Why UCLA Ed&IS is Really #1 — Diversity Leads to Excellence

By Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and Christina Christie

Great news! The Department of Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies has been named the nation’s top graduate school of education by U.S. News and World Report in their annual rankings of American Graduate Educational Institutions. We are number one!

While it is essential to keep the relevance and importance of such rankings in perspective, we are indeed honored to top a much-watched list of excellent institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, the University of Wisconsin- Madison, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Columbia and others. All of these fine universities are making important contributions to the field of education.

Here at UCLA, we are striving to be the best program in education possible, one that is making important contributions to research and scholarship, and making a difference in the classrooms, schools and communities of Los Angeles and beyond. Our work is driven by a quest for educational excellence through diversity, a passion for social justice, and fueled by the talent and energy of Los Angeles, the great global city at the gateway of Asia Pacific and Latin America. In addition to the indicators used in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, we think there are important reasons we are one of the nation’s top graduate programs in education, and one of the most important. We would like to share some of those reasons with you here.

Our Students. Our students are highly talented and tremendously diverse. More than 70 percent of our graduate students are people of color representing a wide range of races and ethnicities. They look like the children of Los Angeles, the children they will help to educate. Our graduate students are the future. Their energy, sense of purpose, and dedication give us hope.

Our Faculty. Our faculty members are extremely talented and committed to excellence and opportunity in education. Together they are making essential contributions to educational research and practice, and forging a culture of excellence in scholarship. And like our students and community, they are extraordinarily diverse. More than half – 57 percent – are people of color. And nearly half are women. They understand and care about the diverse communities we serve in Los Angeles and set important examples for our graduate students to follow. They are building the future of education.

Our Leadership. The leaders of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies are committed not only to excellence in scholarship, but also care deeply about equity, diversity, opportunity and social justice. They are innovative scholars providing a vision for our school and critical support for our students, faculty and staff.

Our Scholarship. At UCLA, we are bringing research and practice to bear upon the defining issues of our times. Our faculty and staff are preparing teachers and school leaders to succeed in low-income urban schools, learning and harvesting effective instructional practices, and developing strategies for the transformation of schools. We are also endeavoring to understand and support the needs of immigrant children, conducting research and developing strategies to serve neurodiverse children and complex learners, cultivating cutting edge methods of research, evaluation and assessment, investigating the challenges facing higher education and more. And we are doing it all through a lens focused on furthering social justice, equity and educational opportunity.

Our Community. There is no better place to study education than Los Angeles. Our community is extraordinarily diverse, with students from across the globe. Many young people and their families face significant economic challenges, but they bring talent, energy, and optimism that is making important contributions to UCLA, to California and to our nation. They are the new future of America. We are deeply engaged with our communities and working to share our knowledge and resources in ways that will increase learning for all. From the development of new models of community schooling to better serve the children of Los Angeles, to efforts that seek to strengthen children and families and keep them out of the foster system, we are working to be a true and committed community partner. And our students and faculty learn from the experience everyday.

Our University. The intellectual and material resources of UCLA are a tremendous benefit to the UCLA Department of Education. We draw on the research and ideas of faculty members in Information Studies, our partner in the Graduate School, and work collaboratively with colleagues at the Semel Institute, the Luskin School of Public Affairs, the UCLA Law School, and other schools and departments to strengthen our knowledge and practice. In addition, we engage thousands of volunteers who spend time working in our community schools and on our projects to improve learning opportunities in Los Angeles and beyond. Our work is supported by our engaged Chancellor and other university leaders. Most importantly, the generous support provided by our alumni and philanthropic funders makes our work possible. It is in large part this support that has made it possible for a public university’s graduate school of education to be ranked among the top university education programs in the nation.

We are proud of our efforts but realize that much remains to be done. We seek no less than the transformation of education and the flourishing of all students. We look forward to working with you to achieve that goal.

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco is Dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Christina Christie is the Chair of the UCLA Department of Education