Professional News

College of Education Dean’s Essay Featured in Public Education Book

Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education Julian Vasquez Heilig
Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education Julian Vasquez Heilig

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2021) — A newly released book, “Public Education: Defending an American Cornerstone,” features a chapter by University of Kentucky College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig. 

Edited by David Berliner and Carl Hermanns, the book’s contributors focus on the essential roles that schools serve in society. The essay by Vasquez Heilig, “Scrutinizing the School Choice Equity Ethos for Black Parents,” provides analysis of whether the privatization of schooling leads to gains in student achievement and an increase in opportunity. 

“Among concerns about equity, charter schools have the power to select the best and least costly students, while denying services and enrollment to diverse learners,” Vasquez Heilig said. 

Research published by Vasquez Heilig has shown charter school students are more likely to attend racially isolated schools than their public school counterparts. His research has also pointed to disproportionate and excessive discipline for students of color in neighborhood public schools, and it is an issue prevalent in charter schools as well, he said. 

"It is important to scrutinize the equity issues that arise in charter schools since they tend to locate in urban areas where Black families are concentrated," Vasquez Heilig said. 

The featured essays in “Public Education” serve as a rousing defense of public schools and highlight the importance of preparing youth to be informed citizens and active participants in the democratic process.  

Vasquez Heilig, a professor of educational policy studies and evaluation, has served as dean of the UK College of Education since 2019. He is an award-winning leader, teacher and researcher and dynamic voice for equity in education in the U.S. and around the world. He works to move ideas from academic journals into the national conversation, making academic research useful and relevant to policymakers and the communities they serve. He has consistently been ranked among the top U.S. scholars for his influence in shaping education practice and policy in the Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. He currently serves as co-education chair for the Kentucky State Conference of the NAACP and on the board of the Schott Foundation. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.