For those keeping up with or interested in learning more about the situation at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) resulting from the Dean’s denial of Prof. Mark Warren’s tenure case below is a press release prepared by students and alumni who are organizing to speak back to this decision and the overall direction in which HGSE seems to be heading.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 22, 2011

Cambridge, MA: When a candidate for tenure at Harvard is universally acknowledged as one of the foremost thinkers in his field, has the support of senior faculty, and is a model student advisor and community member, one would think that getting a fair shake to be considered for tenure is the least he could expect. Not so for Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Associate Professor Mark Warren, whose bid for tenure was derailed by HGSE Dean Kathy McCartney when she informed him on April 12th that his tenure case with the university would not be advanced.

The decision comes as a shock to many, but students and alumni are concerned that this is part of a longer, disturbing trend. Under Dr. McCartney’s leadership—and before—HGSE has shown a pattern of systematically narrowing coursework and curriculum in a way that seriously limits the methodological and epistemological training available to its students. In addition, the senior faculty as a whole continue to lack the breadth of training to fully support the diversity of interests of new and continuing graduate students.

Indeed, the most recent tenure decision also threatens the success of the newest degree program at HGSE: The Doctor in Education Leadership (EdLD).  The EdLD cohort—comprised of 25 mid-career educational leaders—is charged with “Transforming the Education Sector” through their leadership and organizing ability. Unfortunately, Mark Warren is the only faculty member at HGSE who studies educational organizing. In a day and age when public education is facing crises and debates over the lack of community voice in school reform, the lessons learned from Warren’s research could not be more important for the success of the leadership and other degree programs.
“I’m shocked and disappointed,” said Keith Catone, current HGSE doctoral candidate and senior research associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.  “Pushing Dr. Warren out of HGSE will leave the school with a gaping hole when it comes to understanding the importance of community influence on schools.”  Dr. Warren’s colleague and former student, Dr. Soo Hong, Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Wellesley College, stated, “In almost a decade at HGSE, Professor Warren has made a tremendous impact in the field of education by breaking new ground in scholarship and developing the academic careers of emerging leaders in research and policy.  The contribution of his scholarship, teaching, and service at Harvard University has been profound.”

In a display of solidarity with Dr. Warren and to express their disapproval of McCartney’s decision to halt Warren’s tenure case, over 50 students and alumni gathered in person for a demonstration outside of the HGSE Faculty of the Whole meeting on Monday, April 18th from 2-4pm.  Nearly 30 off-campus students and alumni were also represented.  Students, alumni and faculty will again gather this Monday, April 25th outside a meeting of Senior Faculty from 2-4pm in Longfellow Hall to continue to express their concerns upon Dean McCartney’s return to the campus from travel abroad.

Dr. Warren, author of three books and an array of academic journal articles, is widely acknowledged as one of the top scholars in the world who researches community organizing and school reform.  His first book, Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton University Press), is, according to Harvard University’s William Julius Wilson, “the best empirical study ever written on multiracial collaboration to address social inequality.”  Harvard University scholar Marshall Ganz calls Dr. Warren’s second book, Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Social Justice (Oxford University Press), “a genuinely unique contribution to our understanding of why we do what we do.  Warren’s book, like his first one, is of unusual value to scholars, practitioners, and the interested public.”  His newest book, A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Oxford University Press), is praised by University of Maryland’s Patricia Hill Collins as an “important volume” that offers “a provocative mosaic of not only what is possible, but what people are actually doing. . . .must reading for those who see how important quality public education is for building a strong democracy.”

Beyond his pivotal work at Harvard, he is also a founding member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)’s special interest group in Grassroots Community and Youth Organizing, where he has helped to establish a new and emerging research community with over 100 members in just its first three years. During his time at Harvard, Dr. Warren also brought about $750,000 in external grants to the institution, mentored a large number of doctoral students, served on key academic committees, and taught qualitative research courses required for all doctoral students.  In just the last two years, two of his advisees were awarded prestigious Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowships for their work on school reform.