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. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.