Educational equity series to honor late IU professor

“A Year of Examining Educational Equity,” a series of events and activities exploring community education issues and honoring the legacy of Ellen Brantlinger.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

“A Year of Examining Educational Equity,” a series of events and activities exploring community education issues and honoring the legacy of the late Indiana University professor Ellen Brantlinger, will take place over the 2016-17 academic year in Bloomington, according to a news release issued Monday by several sponsoring organizations.

Plans call for community book clubs and discussion groups organized to focus on Brantlinger’s writings, art-focused projects in the community and local schools and a symposium on educational equity. Sponsors are the Community Committee on Educational Equity, the Indiana University School of Education and the Harmony-Meier Institute for Democracy and Equity in Education.

The activities begin in mid-September with the launch of book clubs that will read and discuss “Dividing Classes: How the Middle Class Negotiates and Rationalizes School Advantage,” Brantlinger’s 2003 book that examines inequality in public schools. One group will meet the second Wednesday of every month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Monroe County Public Library; another will meet the third Thursday of every month from 7 to 8:30 p.m., also at the library.

Anyone interested in signing up or in starting additional clubs may contact the book club coordinators via or the project’s Facebook page.

Community and school-based arts events are being planned to honor Brantlinger as a quilter and a lover of quilts. Her friends and colleagues will organize an inclusive project that will invite community members and students to share ideas and create art together.

Finally, a symposium on educational equity is being planned for April, the month of Brantlinger’s birth. The group is also discussing options for archiving her professional and personal writings and making them available for future study.

Brantlinger was a faculty member in the IU School of Education from 1986 until her retirement in 2004. She chaired the school’s special education department and coordinated the doctoral program in curriculum studies. In addition to “Dividing Classes,” her books include “The Politics of Social Class in Secondary School” and “Fighting for Darla.” She died in 2012 at age 71.

Brantlinger was well known as an advocate for educational equity and a critic of class-based segregation, high-stakes testing and privatization of education. After her retirement, she volunteered at the Fairview Elementary School Library and served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate on behalf of children in the family court system.