Dr. Anna Haskins: Education, Reconsidered.

Think. Pair. Share. Podcast Transcript

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You’re listening to Think. Pair. Share. with me, Audrey Scott.

I’m happy to be joined today on Think. Pair. Share. by Dr. Anna Haskins. Anna is an associate professor of sociology and a dynamic member of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity in the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. 
Anna’s research examines how three of America’s most powerful social institutions—the education system, the family, and the criminal justice system—connect and interact in ways that both preserve and mitigate social inequality. Her background as an elementary educator informs her dedication to studying closely the effects on early educational outcomes, intergenerational impacts, and disparities by race and ethnicity.
Anna’s energy and sense of humor are evident as we got our “ever so comfortable” headphones on to begin our conversation…
First of all, welcome to the podcast. We really appreciate you being here. 
Thanks. I’m happy to be here. I really don’t… This is not working for my hair today.
AS: Okay, yeah, do whatever you want - and I think you look good - but I , I understand. I don’t love this look either.
AH: It is what it is.
AS: Yeah, and so, when we put it in the newsletter we use your official photo—which I saw the other day is beautiful—by the way.
AH: Thanks, yes, they did good.
AS: Yes, that's great! So I think we can kind of jump right in but as has become the practice of the podcast we open with a little bit of a lighter section to get to know you in a way that’s just a little bit outside your area of expertise I think. The first ones are just a few rapid fire ones.
AH: Sure.
AS: And then we'll do a couple little fun ones, and then we'll start talking more in depth.
​​AS: Okay, text or talk?
AH: Talk.
AS: Pears or plums?
AH: Neither.
AS: Big dogs or small dogs?
AH: Big dogs.
AS: Polka dots or stripes?
AH: Stripes.
AS: Peeps or those orange squishy circuits peanuts?
AH: Neither. (laughs)
AS: Okay, good.
AH: Although orange is my favorite color, so, I guess if I had to choose one. Well, actually that's... Yellow is also my favorite color and so then nevermind I was gonna say I was going to try to answer that but I can't even do that. Neither. I actually don't really like sweets that much, but I do like the colors of both those are squishy peanuts and peeps.
AS: Good they both seem kind of happy, in a way.
AH: Uh-huh. Uh- huh.
AS: Do you have a favorite number and, if so, why?
AH: Oh, I do have a favorite number, it's five. Why? I'm trying to... It's interesting. I'm like why? Um, so I ran track in middle - no really - elementary, middle school, and high school and five was always my number and or the number I tried to get - and I don't - so I feel like my love for five is deep. Where it comes from, I'm not really sure, I think I like it, it's odd. I don't know... Five.
AS: I love it and actually mine is very similar. I also ran track and mine was eight, so I I just sort of always got that or, as you say, maybe tried to get it after I first got it.
AH: Yeah.
AS: It's always just been my lucky... and people are like, is it really lucky? I'm like, I don't think I could even say it's lucky for me, but it's just my favorite one.
AH: Yeah exactly. What event?
AS: I was a sprinter.
AH: Okay, I was a high jumper.
AS: Oh, my gosh I always wanted,,, Wow. That’s awesome.
AH: Yeah I was a high jumper. I did the hurdles a tiny bit, and I did the quarter and the mile relay.
AS: I love the mile relay... Okay yeah. Very good, I miss... it's not like you could sort of join the track team like people join a beach volleyball team, or you know, a softball team from work. People don't have a track team going.
AH: They don't and I know I wouldn't say that I really loved running so it's not like I would join a running club to make up for it. So I'm with you. I miss it too.
AS: Yeah, it's a fun sort of fun thing to have in the annals there but yeah. Okay, great, um what's for dinner tonight?
AH: Ooh. I should know this because I plan out dinners every week—a week at a time—because that's the only way you can manage the children and the family and the job and the partnership and the husbands and all the things and so, gosh, oh it's brats! We're having brats. Grilled brats with chips. It's not the most extravagant meal, per se, but Wednesdays are sometimes the days where it's like what's the easy thing to throw in. The kids have some beans and some chicken. Okay, this is what we're having in corn corn on the cob.
AS: Yeah, that's great. I love fresh corn on the cob. And so, what time should I be there?
AH: (laughs) Oh right? Exactly.
AH: We eat very early, like 5:30pm.
AS: Not a problem. No, I love grilling. I love the grilling season. I hope to be able to keep it going into the cool months. I was just wondering like do you like to cook? Some people do, some people don’t.
AH: I love to cook. I love to cook, yeah. I find it as it's very much a place where I can use my creativity and imagination in ways that I think sometimes your job doesn't quite allow you to do. So, I do really love to love to cook so, but today is not so much of a cooking day as it as a feeding day.
AS: That’s okay. Midweek. You need that midweek, I think.
AH: Exactly.
AS: If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?
AH: I mean I have lots of thoughts, like, I would like to like heal people. Really, in some sense. I mean I think there's a lot of pain and trauma and whether it's physical or psychological it would be awesome to have a superpower, where you could heal.
AS: Oh, wow. Okay. Done. You just passed that with flying colors. Okay, are you more likely to collect postage stamps or stamps in your passport?
AH: Ooh, I really love postage stamps. I love the post office. I think stamps are such a creative way to show art. I mean, so traveling is fun, but I am not... Traveling is fine, right, but I actually have always loved stamps. Like actual postage stamps I still buy them, I still mail things, and so, for that it's totally postage stamps.
AS: Me too actually. I love both. I suppose. I wouldn't turn either down, but I do—my dad collected stamps—and so I sort of have a soft spot in my heart for that. Actually, tell me about the path to Notre Dame because it sorta seems like it maybe started out in the Midwest and...
AH: I’m actually from Kalamazoo.
AS: Wonderful.
AH: Yeah so I have two kids. A two-year-old and a six-year-old. And my husband is also a sociologist of education here as well, and so we're both on faculty coming newly from Cornell University to Notre Dame. And so, yes  I was born in Ann Arbor and grew up in Kalamazoo and then went to the University of Michigan which I know is…
AS: It's okay.
AH: It’s okay, but I know that that's a problem, but I am a Wolverine and I'm so new here that it's going to take a little while to get into  being a Irish… man? I don't know, yeah this is how bad I am already about what what is it? a domer maybe I guess, this is the term?
AS: It's maybe a little bit of both, but hey, how do your Michigan friends and family, though, think about that? They might not like that too much.
AH: Well it's funny, it's funny, they're fine. They always ask, how are you doing? How are you doing over there? And I was like, I’m fine. You know, I don't see this as a problem. I will say, I'm a big college football fan, and so in some sense it's really nice to be back in a place where college football is really important, I mean, I think you know we can think we can talk about how valued, it is, and maybe it's too valued and whatnot, but I do think it's nice to be back in a place that likes college football. So I went to Michigan for Grad school, then I was an elementary school teacher for four years in Madison, Wisconsin and then I did my PhD in Madison and so in some sense I've been I had been in the Midwest for a little while and and then that took me to the east coast for my first faculty position. And I was at Cornell for eight years. And so, in some sense it's been a while since I have been back to the Midwest and definitely been a while, since i've been back to sort of Michiana area, and it's nice. I definitely had a flashback of memories from childhood that I had had forgotten since I’d left the area, and so I enjoy that part of it.
AS: It's nice to be back here. And just know you're always welcome here as one of the Irish.
AH: Thank you. Thank you so much.
AS: Sure. Absolutely. I know that you are part of CREO, the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity. What is that like for you? What sort of environment is that? And how does that help your work?
AH: Yeah, so, one of the draws to coming to Notre Dame for me really was—the sociology department at Cornell doesn't—and actually Cornell University, you know Notre Dame's  a little similar, doesn't have a school of education. So it's really hard to be a sociologist of education in a department or university where there's sort of not a critical mass of people studying education. And so I felt felt like after time at Cornell there was really many students interested in education, but not a lot of faculty and sort of not the institutional centers or support for the broad study of education, and so one of the things I think that is really compelling about Notre Dame is the students interest both undergraduate and graduate level students and then CREO is one of the center's that really helps bring all of the people interested in education together and there's just so many of them. And that's a great place to be to be in an environment where there's a lot of people specifically thinking about all schooling children curriculum and education, and so, for me, it's really exciting to be back in being submersed in thinking about sociology of education. 
AS: Well we're happy to have you, and I know I know Mark is excited to have that team going and CREO is certainly doing a lot of great work so I'm glad that you're in the mix there. The focus of your work is very fascinating to me. You look at the intersection of three of America's most powerful social institutions: schools, families, and the criminal justice system and how that intersection affects children's educational outcomes, among other things.  First, what sparked your interest in it initially, and was there a human element—something that moved your heart—to make you sort of get into this difficult, I mean—the subject is difficult.
AH: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, I think a lot of things sort of meshed together. To do research, you have to be pretty specific in what you study, and so I would say a lot of things led me, you know, sort of in a big funnel, to thinking about this as what I end up doing my research in. You know, one of the things is that in sociology we often think about these institutions very separately, and so you know, what do families do for kids? There's a whole bunch of research that just does that. There's a lot of research on schools. And then there's a growing body of research, trying to understand what is the role of the criminal justice system really in sort of society, and sort of perpetuating or ameliorating inequality? A lot of this work was really being done separately. And so, where I came to thinking about these things as interconnected has to do with sort of my my path to graduate school. And so I, as I mentioned briefly, you know my degree from Michigan as an elementary education and I went to being an elementary school teacher and, but I would say, the reason why I was interested in schooling and education in college was because I was always really interested in the relationship between schools and and social mobility and particularly for black families and black children.
Some back backstory is that my father is a black male and he might he was one of 19 black men to integrate an East coast boarding school in the 1960s. This was at the time, where Brown versus the Board of Education, had already implemented desegregation in public schools and so that was in the 1950s. And there were private schools really trying to figure out, how do they desegregate? Because there's no court order to desegregate private schools. And so the private schools that did want that—some private schools were sort of hard like—would, would never want to desegregate and sort of we're using that as a space to, many times what we say, is white flight from public schools into private schools, but there were private schools that were trying to figure out what we don't have a court order to desegregate, how do we do that? And at that time there was a program that was just started. It still exists today but it's called the ABC program. It stands for A Better Chance and and what the a better chance program or the ABC program did in the 60s, was it, it took the best and the brightest students of color out of a number of inner city metropolitan cities. My dad is from Detroit, and so my dad went from Detroit and my uncle also went. And they took you know nominations from families of really smart kids of color: Puerto Rican, black students, and had those kids integrate east coast boarding schools. And so my dad actually integrated Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. And my grandmother really valued education, thought—this is a good opportunity for my children.
And it was, but it was also really terrible and painful and difficult, but having that as sort of part of my family's history and relationship with education helps me think about the ways in which education can promote social mobility and can’t. I mean, my dad was the first in his family to go to college and I was the first in my family to get a PhD. And so it did open up doors and this opportunity for education. But it didn't say that it wasn't without harm. And it's not to say that education works that way for everyone. And so my interest in schooling and education, starting at a young age, was really because I was thinking about… I was really thinking deeply about these relationships with schools and families and race. And that led me to teaching and then that led me to graduate school, when I was thinking, I was at a point where I wanted to, think about the black white achievement gap in particular and the ways it persists, despite our attempts to really address in some ways, formal racial segregation and discrimination within schools. And so that led me to graduate school and in that first year I was really thinking about how I would go about studying this. And it just happened to be that a faculty member, came in and talked to us first years about the criminal justice system and, and the racial disparities in that system that were burgeoning at the time. In Wisconsin, the black/white incarceration ratio was 20-1, so 20 black men to every one white man in the state. And so, seeing that there was this racial disparity in criminal justice involvement and this persistent racial achievement gap in schools, I was starting to think about, well, we live in a society where everything is interconnected. There has to be a relationship between these. And then also thinking as my father is a black men male, black men mean a lot to families in various ways, and I think the literature on families didn't really portray black men very positively. And so then sort of thinking about, so again you're like what's the personal? Like all of these things: what does an absence of a father mean to a family? What does an absence of a father mean to children? What does the absence of a large swath of black men from black communities, given the rise in mass incarceration, mean for families? And then, what does that mean for education of children? Particularly because we still hold a lot of emphasis on education and schooling, as the way to climb up the social mobility ladder in the United States. And so, all of these things kind of funneled into trying to think about how do I carve out these big ideas into a researchable research question. Which led me to think about: how does the effect of a parent’s incarceration, impact their children's educational outcomes? And so that is what the bulk of my work has done. And so thinking about intergenerational transmission of disadvantage from exposure to the criminal justice system at the parents level and what that might mean or do for kids and their schooling outcomes.
AS: What are you finding in your research so far? Are there actionable items?
AH: That's a good question. And I think different types of research questions answer that better or worse, and so what I'll say is that the work that I have done earlier in my career was an attempt to just show that this was the case. Because I think prior to the work that I did, and I'm not the only one, so there's other scholars at the time that we're doing this work too, but prior to our work, I think there was an assumption that these are bad dad’s and it has nothing to do with an institution, it has to do with sort of a personal level accountability or criminality or individual level characteristics and that's why kids are doing poorly. And so the first stage of my research was really just to say look—here is evidence to show that I can control for these individual characteristics that you might think are actually the cause of these outcomes and I can show you that really it is involvement in the criminal justice system that is causing these poor outcomes for kids. And so that was the first step. That step doesn't say there's anything that you or I can personally do, but it is changing our understandings of the dynamics and changing our understanding of where the problem is because I think oftentimes when we think the problem is in poverty or in black communities, then we think Oh, we can wash our hands or or it's very individualistic approaches. But when we recognize that the problem is at an institutional level, then there's different things that need to change. And so I think the first step was to show there is, in addition to poverty and, in addition to neighborhood disadvantage, in addition to a number of other individual level characteristics there's something also unique about having a parent involved in the criminal justice system that causes negative educational outcomes for kids. 
And oftentimes what's really important here is to say that the kids didn't do anything. So if we're if there's something that is harming a five year old, who didn't do anything because because of the way in which the criminal justice system over the last five decades has become more racialized and more disproportionate in how people get involved in it, and then the harms of those are then disproportionately impacted on on racial groups within American society that's the problem. So I think in some sense it's saying we need to move our eyes to also thinking about how to change the criminal justice system or policing. And so that's like part one of of the work. Now, I will say I feel like we as a society are better at understanding that the criminal justice system has done harm  for everybody involved in it, regardless of race, but also, in particular, to black and brown communities.
And so you know where my work has gone now is is more, I think, where you're where you're asking, which is sort of at a mezzo or micro level, what can we do, what are the things that can be done? And that's a mechanisms question right? So, then there's the what question of does this exist? And if so, okay. And then there's the if it does, how is it happening? And that's a mechanisms question, and so the work that I'm doing now is trying to answer those questions after we've sort of established that we do see this as a social problem. How does it manifest? And so it manifests in many ways. And so we can think about the individual level. I'm a sociologist that really is interested in institutions and so I'm going to look at sort of what I will say is a mezzo level, and so what role do schools play in, in harm or or help with this broader social problem right where we can think about mass incarceration social at the macro scale and individual families at a micro scale, so what role do the schools play in that? And so that's the work that I'm doing right now. And that work is qualitative so it's talking to people and asking those questions.
So my work with  schools is really asking the question of can schools help or and I think they do both right so it's not the and/or but in what ways do schools help and in what ways do schools  continue to potentially harm and exacerbate this relationship. That question offers a chance to be able to get more tangible, what can we do type things and so thinking about how do we create a school community that seems to be more supportive and welcoming to families that have criminal justice backgrounds, because, again some of my work will say,  that schools, given their more security and apparatuses are starting to look a lot more like prisons, particularly in urban areas: barbed wire, metal detectors, locked vestibules, armed guards, right, and so, if schools are starting to look like that, and you are a parent that has just been released from prison, or you're a parent has a warrant out, or you're on parole are you going to want to engage with your kid’s school in meaningful ways? Potentially not, because the way the school looks reminds you of what you just left. And it's not just what the school looks, it's also how one feels like they're treated. And so I'm interested in parent involvement in schooling as the potential mechanism. As a way in which we might see that schools either can help reduce the broad negative effects of a parental a parent's incarceration and kids educational outcomes or worsen it.
AS: It's been a very difficult year or two at the very least with diversity, equity, inclusion and policing, etc.
AH: Yes.
AS: Yeah, I know this is… Do you have a thought there, maybe in general or tied to your research?
AH: I have lots of thoughts. I mean, I think you know after George Floyd and so... There's the pandemic and then there's George Floyd and George Floyd is not new, right? I mean, I think the issue, again, we're getting off really off the research part but as a sociologist I think a lot about sort of what are the social dynamics happening in the country, to give rise to this particular murder being something that people will actually stop and listen to. Because there's been lots of murders of black men and women, for centuries, and so it's not about it being new or surprising. So what is it about this? And I think you know when I was teaching at Cornell and I was teaching undergrads I teach a class called Controversies About Inequality, or I taught a class there. And so this was a lot of stuff we talked about so then it's in the middle of a pandemic, and I think a lot of students were like why now? And I think the answer is that we all were sort of away from work, you know you know, at home, in an economic downturn, in sort of a very you know so it's like it's a confluence of a whole bunch of stuff happening at the moment. I mean in a lot of sense, a lot of people were free in some sense to protest and were frustrated and I think the big political swing between Obama and Trump was a really big. It says a lot about sort of our society in the moment, and so you know I think in many ways it's it has been a really difficult two years because a lot of this is just happening at the same time in ways that bring out an ability to see inequality, see struggles and be able to sort of, say, I feel that way and if I feel that way, then I can see why they you know, whatever the other is, can feel that way. There's been a lot of things happening socially in our world around inequality, where we are becoming aware of those that have and the many that have not and and we can think about what that looks like along racial lines, and class lines, along gender lines, along sexuality lines, and I think that's really allowed us to sort of think about all this at the same time and realize, wow, we have a lot of work to do. That I think we were sitting in, I felt like an easy space for a little while, thinking oh look at all the progress we've made we don't actually have to dig deep and think about that. So anyway, I think it's a lot. There's just a lot happening, and I think the inequality hit everyone. I think, really, in some way during the pandemic and in a way that I think like, not a single person felt like they were safe and comfortable and I think that allowed us to see the position that we have as very tenuous and see the inquality that's out there and be able to side when you see that there's injustice because you're feeling it right now too.
AS: Very well said. Thank you. Thinking about the Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Alliance for Catholic Education, are there ways that those can or are already being helpful in your research?
AH: I think IEI and the way it's paired with ACE and a number of the other programs here do a really good job of offering avenues to impact and/or help communities, schools that want help in ways that are not the formal research way but still help and make change and sort of engage the community and thinking about the resources that they have and how they can meet the needs of folks.
AS: Because of your elementary education background—are those the faces that you saw things start to manifest in and you thought hey let's get here at an earlier time to help because, if not now, when?
AH: In some sense, yeah. I think my background in elementary education gave me insight… A lot of the work that had been done before this was really looking at high school kids. And I you know my recognition is that all this stuff starts a lot sooner—our trajectories through schooling, by the time we get in high school are pretty much planned out by third grade. And so, in my mind, it was like if we're talking about interventions at middle school high school that's really too late. And so, yes I think in some sense recognizing having been a teacher and thinking about you know when you know decisions on special education placement, for example, or decisions on school retention or grade retention and the pathways when we put on our part, I mean, yes, yes, you can move around a little bit, but really, and so it did it did for me say this is why I want to study five year olds and not you know 14 year olds is because we're making decisions for five year olds. And if we don't know and we're not aware of the ways in which those five year olds can be impacted their educational trajectories can be impacted by what's happening, you know, outside of the home outside of the school, we need to be thinking about that stuff earlier on, so absolutely I would say that knowing that about elementary school made me really become a very strong advocate for earlier and then people believing me and recognizing, Okay, she said she's coming from a place of experience as knowing that like elementary school is really the place to start.
AS: Yeah. Gotcha. Taking what you said about maybe someone who had been in jail and they want to go to their child's school and it's got all cameras and barbed wire and metal detectors etc. Is there a good suggestion for something like that that could de-escalate.
AH: I think the thought is: it's complicated, right? So there's always this, like we need schools to be more safe and also what we see as safe in society, often means sort of like more armor. You know, against weapons in some sense, and so I think I think it's complicated because I think any parent would say I want my kid to be safe in school. Even parents formerly incarcerated, right? And so what's interesting is to say, you know, is it, I guess my my answer wouldn't be let's just like take all that stuff away from schools and then schools will be safer and and parents that are criminal justice involved would feel more welcome I don't think it's just that. And so, and actually that's that's again another empirical question that I have to parents is that you know, is it the built environment of the school? How much is it what parts of that.
Because it could be, but it also maybe that's like that's actually fine because I realized my kid is safe inside there. It's the way I'm treated or it's the way that the teachers or the school principal that's actually the problem. And so it's I think that's where it's like I I don't know yet. Yes, I think it would be probably more healthy for society, as well as children to not feel like they're entering into like an armed place every time they go to learn. So going through metal detectors and being searched and having cameras all the time, but also again, we are in a new stage in society, then we weren't before with more potential for harm to be done within schools and so it's a it's a delicate balance, I think you know, one of the things I just encourage as a sociologist that we're thinking about these things like what does this do? So if we need to move to this direction, for whatever reason, we should be cognizant or thinking through like what does that mean for student learning what does that mean for schools as places that as safe spaces? What does it mean to be safe? For who does safety mean what? You know, like these are all the questions I think are really important to be asked. Because I think the answers are different, depending on the position in power, privilege, or in society that you have. And I often think we sort of think, Oh, the way to make school safer is to just make them more armored and I don't you know, maybe that is not really the way to make school safer. You know the other thing that I think—this is this is pretty controversial, I think, in some ways, but the other thing I often think about is that if we didn't think of schools in in American society as really important institutions where they house food, right? With free reduced lunch right they house food sometimes some schools across the country you have nurses and doctors, they do eye exams they do hearings, if they are like a central location for services. And oftentimes services for those at a disadvantage and so, if schools, if we didn't treat schools as if they were supposed to be the center of all help then some of this wouldn't matter. It wouldn't matter if we wanted families to come in, or not, because schools aren't supposed to be that, like they're not supposed to be a central resource or not supposed to be this hub. Because I think for me it's all about what is the role of schooling in society and oftentimes it's we think about it in many ways, but one way is let's have it be the place where families get resources where students are aided in need. And so, but for for the most for the youngest of kids if we were to continue to for schools do that we need to have buy in from families and parents. And so parent involvement in schooling is still really important for the youngest kids. And so, if we didn't care about parent involvement and family as a way to access resources then I don't think this would be that big of a deal, so I think in some sense I often say, well, we could we could make schools less important and then maybe we wouldn't matter, but in some sense that's like a that's a Meta question like what do if we want schools to continue to be this, then we need to make sure that it's reaching and meeting the needs that that we're claiming it should. What I worry about with system involved families is that there is a group of families and children - who could get resources because schools are these avenues of support and resources - that are choosing to sort of disengaging avoid schools, because of worry that they're going to be re-engaged in some of these harmful surveilling institutions as opposed to using schools as those avenues and then they're missing out on the resources and the opportunities that are that are in schools, waiting for them. Because of the way in which we have set up schools to potentially feel like they're more in line with police and immigration enforcement and child protective services, instead of helping helping families meet students young young children's needs.
AS: That's a great point. You're touching on that obviously what, what are the consequences for the young child? How are they affected when a parent disengages?
AH: I think they're affected in a couple of ways. At the individual level, I mean, so I have a first grader right now. And there's a lot of expectations that the parent is involved in the kids' schooling. So there's homework that comes home. There's help that needs to be done, there's a level of communication that is sort of basic and given. And if a parent isn't capable and/or is afraid to engage in some ways - and part of the, part of the disengagement isn't just about fear - it's about inability to engage given busy schedules or things like that are given the sort of the extra bonus of having a partner gone due to incarceration, for example. And so there's the individual level that could be psychological or academic right, so the kids not getting the help that the school expects or assumes the kid will have because of the expectation of the parent-school partnership or a family-school partnership that sort of underlying expectation of parent involvement and schooling. I also do think that teachers create perceptions about families that are not involved. Particularly if there are families that are involved, and so the difference between a non not involved in a parent that's high involvement in low involvement. And I have work that does say that there are differences in how kids are then rated or graded based on the teachers perceptions of criminal justice history and so again that's another reason, where we see this play out at the individual level for kids so controlling for kids actual test scores, teachers perceive kids that have incarcerated parents as less able to do the work, and so that does say something about sort of teachers roles as as agents in in the relationships. 
And then the other level that is more sociological in thinking in some sense is that parents' relationships with institutions kids see those and I often see I often think that if a parent has distrust or mistrust with schools kids can then carry that into the parenting that they do later. And so, when you see the modeling - if a parent doesn't disengages with schools and sort of doesn't engage in the way that mainstream American society sees parent involvement in schooling to be, and the kids sort of sees that, when the kid is a parent they see their - I would call this intergenerational transmission of institutional distrust - that was a very sociological term but in in many sense it's saying the parents institutional distrust is transmitted to the child in a way that then the child, maybe, without having a chance to build their own relationships as a parent to schools has that as their understanding and then also has institutional distrust and so, I think that that's a really important mechanism that is again sociological and thinking about how things are passed on and what does institutional distrust mean? We can think about institutional distrust with the police, we can think about it with the medical system. Sociologists do this all the time right. I'm just adding schools as another institution in which we were thinking about how we can distrust institutions and what does that mean? And I do think it can be transmitted intergenerationally, in terms of modeling, as well as the way in which families talk about schools to their kids as places: don't tell the teacher this, don't let the school know this. And we've been talking a lot about the criminal justice system, but my work is also tiptoeing into immigration enforcement and child protective services. And there's a lot of institutional distrust in both of those arenas that can be passed along too and so again don't tell, don't say what happens at home don't you know, and so, and then in that sense that's setting up a framing of schools as not a place of help, but a place of harm that can then be transmitted. Regardless of what is actually happening in the home, you know?
AS: There's so many levels and it's all very interconnected, so it does sort of feel like it can be overwhelming at some point, because you're learning all this and want to make a difference, ultimately…
AH: You know, for me, to be able to stay invested in the work that I am doing, I have to feel like it's doing something. And it's not just doing something for me, but it's doing something for the communities that I am interested in working with, learning from, and helping. And so, part of coming to understand things is also just being aware, you know coming into awareness, and so I think a lot of the practice and or policy or sort of public part of the - you know that’s a lot of “p’s” - that I do is is really showing how we're - because you said you know - even students sitting next to faculty or staff at Notre Dame, yeah, one in four, one in 25 kids has an incarcerated or ever incarcerated parent. And that's just on average right. So, then we can break that down by race. And it's one in four, for black children, it's one in 10 for Latino children, and it's one and 25 for for white, well I think it's one in, I think it's like one and 17 for white children. That's that's easy to find like you and it's very hidden because people's because of the stigmatized nature of it so part of it is talking about it brings an awareness. Often I've done this. At Cornell, students will come to me and say I haven't told this to anybody, but my so and so, you know, my uncle and my brother, my mom, right? You know and so that you know that allows one to be able to talk and speak their truth and become a, you know be aware that there that this is some valid you know concern and something that they can take up and think about and study and share.
AS: Yeah and I think that part of what we were saying is people think oh that's someone else's problem, or that's you, but actually it's probably most people sitting in a room.
AH: Yeah. I think I have now realized, you know the bigger stat that's really worth sharing, I think, is that one in two Americans have a family member, you know so again, this is a family member it's uncle, aunt, grandfather, mother, sibling, cousin that has been incarcerated in prison or jail, and that is the stat right now for the United States and so thinking about, you know just one in two, like between you and me, right? Like and so, and so I think when when we are able to hear that and and recognize it and put a face to it, then that's part of the public work of why research is necessary.
AS: Yes, as you say, raise awareness and maybe those are the steps that every single person can take is to be more aware and to be more sensitive and to give grace to the people sitting in those chairs, especially those really young children who might be in a difficult place but need the extra grace to flourish.
AH: Yeah.
AS: Are you hopeful for the research and the future for this group?
AH: Yeah. I mean I'm hopeful, in that I think there's attention being given to this topic in ways that hadn't been previously. I also think that there is a more universal understanding that the way the criminal justice system is currently set up is not working. And so, and then I think there's a growing understanding that that bleeds into other spheres of life. Whether it's the Labor market or marriage and you know families marriages or schools, and so I you know I do think that there is a an understanding. 
But I think we're at the stage of like what you know all the questions you're asking—what do we, what do we do about it? I think research is one avenue to help answer those questions, it's not the only. But it's one and so and that's what I'm trained best to do and so that's the avenue that i'm taking right and so yeah I'm optimistic. The only way we can continue to do work that you're passionate about is to be optimistic in some sense that something will come of it that will make the change that you think will better address the concerns and address really in my sense: racial inequality in America.
AS: I like that. That's wonderful and thank you so much. I appreciate all your thoughts and your time. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. 
AH: Sure.
AS: When I talk to someone like you, with so much passion, I want to be able to help, and I want to provide our listeners with—Oh, we could do this, but it's such a deep problem and it's such a wide ranging problem...
AH: Yeah. It's hard and I also think like continuing to talk, I mean this is the that's part of it, right? Like... 
AS: Yes.
AH: And I'm happy to come back and talk again about where, where the work is going and what's new and…. Did you say talk or text? Was that one of the first questions?
AS: Yes!
AH: Yeah talk. Always talk.
AS: Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for talking…
AH: (Laughs) I’m such a caller and also I'm like still a finger chicken pecker texter. So I'm not very efficient with texting anyway, and so the dictation makes it a little bit easier now but, anyway, talk all the way, because I like talking.
AS: And I really do too, and I so enjoyed, this time with you, Anna. Thank you so much for being here.
AH: Sure, thank you for asking you to join. It was fun.