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Michael Hines

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"As a history nerd looking at education, I try to unravel the roots of the inequities we see today.”

Michael Hines,
Assistant Professor

Finding lessons from the past

Michael Hines always spent more time in schools than most young people. His mother and both grandmothers were educators, and in addition to often helping out in their classrooms, he spent summers during college working with special-needs students at the school district in his Illinois hometown. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a history degree, he joined Teach for America and taught ninth grade English in Maryland, then worked for two years at a charter school in Washington, D.C.

“Being up in front of a classroom, working with young people—it just felt right. It was a good fit,” says Hines, who joined Stanford GSE as an assistant professor this year. But seeing the inequities among school systems made him want to have a broader impact, so he headed to graduate school at Loyola University Chicago to focus on cultural and educational policy studies.

There he wrote his doctoral dissertation on a woman named Madeline Morgan, an educator and activist who created an African American studies curriculum in the 1940s—the first to be implemented in a U.S. public school system. “It was mandatory in the Chicago Public Schools for about three years during the war, which was very unusual for that time period,” says Hines. His research became the basis for his upcoming book, The Blackboard and the Color Line, to be published by Beacon Press.

Here at Stanford he is intent on bringing historical context and perspective to a wider audience, teaching courses on the history of education in the United States and specifically the history of African American education. “Where can we draw parallels and get lessons from the past? As a history nerd looking at education, I gravitate toward that—trying to unravel the roots of the inequities we see today.”

February 24, 2020
Photo: Holly Hernandez

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