Education Justice

Racial equity and justice in education is a core focus of the IRISE research and programming mission and purpose.  Since the launch of IRISE 2.0 in the 2017-2018 academic year, IRISE has established numerous collaborative partnerships across campus and in the community, providing much needed support and amplification of cutting-edge interdisciplinary and community-led programs and research.   Projects supported by IRISE through grant funding include the One Tribe Family Freedom School led by IRISE Affiliate Faculty Dr. Maria Salazar in partnership with IRISE Community Scholar Hasira Soul Ashemu and the Righteous Rage Institute, This is My Denver led by Esteban Gomez, and La Cultura Cura and Hip Hop as Medicine programs led by IRISE Postdoctoral Fellow Johnny Ramirez with GRASP.   

Our 2021-2022 year will open on November 11th with a Denver Public Schools and DU Engagement Day introducing new superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero to our campus with the goal of establishing a robust relationship with DPS for racial equity research.   Please check back to this page for event updates, research spotlights and resources! 



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DPS & DU Engagement Day

IRISE is pleased to host a full day of on campus events with Dr. Alex Marrero, Denver Public Schools Superintendent culminating in a public conversation with Dr. Maria Salazar on racial and healing justice, and the way forward for education justice for historically marginalized communities.  

Event Recording


DPS & DU Engagement Day Speakers

Dr. Alex Marrero, Denver Public Schools Superintendent

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Dr. Alex Marrero became superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Colorado’s largest school district, on July 6, 2021. Dr. Marrero leads with a vision of supporting students the way educators supported him growing up and into his career. As the child of a Cuban refugee and an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Alex prides himself on representing many of the Latinx students in the communities he has served as a school leader and in district leadership positions. He attended New York City public schools, and began his education career there as well, serving as a guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal. He believes that every child can accomplish what he has, not only overcoming obstacles but being recognized as a leader in their chosen field.

His life experiences showed him both what a difference-maker a great education can be, and how shamefully different the opportunities are for Black and Brown students in a system of stark inequities. And he has made it his life’s work to–in his own words–“pursue equity and excellence for all students and help others see the diversity within our schools as a strength.”

Alex has been honored as an outstanding administrator by the Latino Caucus of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators and inducted into the New York Academy of Public Education. He received a Leadership and Excellence in Education Award from the Association of Dominican-American Supervisors and Administrators and was recognized as a Latino Administrator of the Year by the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

In January 2020, Alex joined the City School District of New Rochelle as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. In September, he became the first Latinx head of the city’s school system, serving as acting and then interim superintendent. Prior to that, as Assistant Superintendent at East Ramapo Central School District, Alex supported schools into Good Standing and increased graduation rates.

Alex’s doctoral dissertation—Dominican Parents’ Involvement in Children’s College Aspirations and Achievement Motivation—speaks to his dedication and commitment to engaging families. His life exemplifies a bit of wisdom he borrows from Nelson Mandela; “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Dr. Maria Salazar, Morgridge College of Education

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Dr. Maria Salazar’s research and scholarship center on transformative teacher preparation through empirical research on equitable and effective teaching. Salazar has authored numerous publications on humanizing pedagogies, equitable and effective teaching, culturally responsive teaching, and college access and success for Latinx students. She has given over 100 scholarly presentations and 20 national and international keynote presentations on her research areas. In addition, she is the lead author of a widely circulated policy document titled, "The State of Latinos 2008: Defining an Agenda for the Future." This document was presented to members of the U.S. Congress in 2008. Dr. Salazar served on the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), a national collaborative to revise model content standards and develop learning progressions for teacher licensure, assessment, and development. She was a key contributor in the development of the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards and Learning Progressions. She also served on the Colorado Quality Teachers Commission.

Dr. Maria Salazar presented three sessions at the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) on infusing equity across program components, and developing valid and reliable candidate assessments. She also gave the conference keynote presentation which was titled: Cultivating equity in teacher education - The hope, despair, and tenacity of a rose that grew in concrete. Dr. Salazar also recently participated in a summit on quality, recruitment and selectivity of teacher candidates which was held in Washington, DC by the National Education Association (NEA). She has also agreed to serve on CAEP's Equity and Global Initiatives Advisory Committee. Dr. Salazar recently presented at the AERA Conference, and was selected to participate in an IES grant-writing workshop.

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Season 5: Education Justice

The IRISE RAGE Podcast will produce a series of episodes featuring interviews with the DPS and DU Engagement Day participants including Dr Marrero, Dr. Salazar and more.   Episodes will be posted here!