Director of the School of Education, School of Education
Rachel Oppenheim spent several years as a public school teacher in urban inclusive and bilingual classrooms in Compton, California and New Orleans, Louisiana. While pursuing her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University, she developed a passion for working with both current and emergent educators, helping them develop their pedagogical skills, and facilitating a deep commitment to high standards and equitable practices for all students. For over a decade she has been teaching adult incarcerated people, first in New York City on Rikers Island and now in Washington through the University Beyond Bars program. Her scholarly interests revolve around identity, power, and fostering educational equity for those who have experienced structural discrimination and marginalization. Her research has focused on the educational lives of incarcerated women as well as on investigating correctional education and scrutinizing the ways that schooling is positioned in US jails and prisons.
- BA, Wellesley College
- MEd, Loyola Marymount University
- EdD, Teachers College, Columbia University
- Oppenheim, R. (2015). “What Kind of Woman are You?” Performing Decency and Motherhood Behind Bars. In Literacies, Learning, and the Body: Putting Theory and Research into Pedagogical Practice. (Enriquez, G.; Johnson, E.; Kontovourki, S.; & Mallozzi, C., Eds.). New York: Routledge.
- Oppenheim, R. (2012). Surveillance. In Keywords in Youth Studies: Tracing affects, movements, knowledges. (N. Lesko & S. Talburt, Eds.). New York: Routledge, p. 54-58.
- Sonu, D.; Oppenheim, R.; Epstein, S.; & Agarwal, R. (2012). Taking responsibility: The multiple and shifting positions of social justice educators. Education, Citizenship, and Social Justice, 7(2), p. 175-189.
- Agarwal, R.; Epstein, S.; Oppenheim, R.; Oyler, C.; & Sonu, D. (2010). From ideal to practice and back again: Beginning teachers teaching for social justice. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2).
- Johnson, L.; Oppenheim, R.; & Suh, Y. J. (2009). “Would that be social justice?” A conceptual constellation of social justice curriculum in action. New Educator, 5(4), p. 294-311.
- Oppenheim, R., et al. (2009). The view from inside Rikers. Village Voice, February 10, 2009.
- Oppenheim, R. (2009). Selected entries for Encyclopedia of American Disability History. Burch, S. (Ed.). New York: Facts on File.
- Jordan, K-A.; Oppenheim, R.; Snow, C.; & Wong, J. (2006). Review essay: Educational perspectives on the encyclopedia of disability, in three parts. Disability Studies Quarterly, 26(4).
- American Educational Research Association (AERA)
- Washington Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (WACTE)
- Curriculum Studies Division: American Education Research Association
- Disability Studies in Education (DSE) SIG: American Education Research Association
- Queer Studies SIG: American Education Research Association
- University Beyond Bars (UBB)
- Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS)
- Coalition for Women Prisoners (CWP)
- Women’s Prison Association (WPA)
- Correctional Education
- Feminist, Poststructural Theory
- Critical Race Theory
- Justice-oriented Teacher Preparation
- Gender and Gender Identity in Educational Settings
My experience as an educator spans nearly twenty years and crosses a number of educational settings. Whether teaching students in urban public schools, pre-service and in-service teachers at the university level, or adult incarcerated people in jails and prisons, I have come to understand that education has the power to transform lives and combat injustice, but it can also separate, stratify, and alienate. As both a teacher and a teacher educator I feel an intense responsibility to insure that my own work contributes to greater equity and helps to expand possibilities for all students. In a world often marked by oppression and discrimination, education has the ability and the obligation to work toward eliminating disparities and narrowing the gaps that divide us.