Photo of CUE even in Memorial Hall

Critical Urban Education Speaker Series

The Critical Urban Education (CUE) Speaker Series is a bi-annual event bringing leading national scholars to Montclair State University. CUE provides a forum to develop attendees’ racial and political analysis through a series of lectures and workshops focused on social and cultural issues influencing urban schools and communities. Attendees include Montclair State University graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty as well as local young people, educators, and community members.

Drs. Tanya Maloney and Bree Picower of the Department of Teaching and Learning coordinate and moderate the CUE speaker series events. The Dean’s Office of the College for Education and Engaged Learning hosts the series. For more information or to contact the CUE coordinators, please email

Upcoming Events

Dr. Deonna Smith

Author of Rooted in Joy: Creating a Classroom Community of Equity, Belonging, and Care, educational justice advocate, and former school leader and teacher.

Thursday, March 21st, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. EST via Zoom

In this CUE talk, Dr. Smith will help you build your toolkit to lead with liberation and community-building in order to reimagine what schools can be. Using accessible academic frameworks, insights from educators, and her own experiences, Dr. Smith will support you to navigate toxic school cultures in order to root your classroom in joy!

The event will open with youth poetry and DJ Shell Spin!


This event is free and open to the public • ASL interpretation will be provided

This event will not be recorded

Prior Events

October 12, 2023

The Critical Urban Education Speaker series (CUE) welcomed Dr. Bettina L. Love, bestselling author, abolitionist educator, and renowned public speaker.

November 29, 2022

The Critical Urban Education Speaker series (CUE) welcomed Dr. Harper B. Keenan, Robert Quartermain Professor of Gender and Sexuality in Education at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Keenan’s talk, titled “Boxed In: Trans Life and the Struggle for Self-Determination at School,” explored the conditions facing trans and gender non-conforming children and teachers in PK-12 public schools and what those conditions reveal about the role of school in society. The evening opened with an act by Per Sia, an educator and drag performer with Drag Queen Story Hour. It was then followed by a lecture by Dr. Keenan in which he addressed the current hostile political environment towards trans people in education and presented data from two studies. The first study included nearly 400 trans-identifying workers in PK-12 schools across the United States and Canada, while the second study was a two-year ethnographic project examining the struggle for gender self-determination in primary education in a large urban school district in Northern California. The findings from these studies provided insights into how schools teach the public about the social meaning of gender, including the intersection of gender and race. After the lecture there was a Q & A in which guests brought up and discussed their questions and concerns relating to this issue. The event was a genuine tribute to the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming individuals in PK-12 public schools, highlighting the importance of educators to generate communal understanding and empathy.

March 2nd, 2022

The Critical Urban Education Speaker series (CUE) welcomed NY Times #1 Bestselling author, Renée Watson as a part of the Transformative Education Network’s ongoing professional development series. Ms. Watson writes poetry and fiction that center the experiences of Black girls and women. This energy was felt in full at the March 2nd CUE event at the intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The evening began with young poets sharing their work and then Ms. Watson opened the space and introduced herself through her heartfelt, honest and profoundly moving poetry. Next she engaged in a conversation with students, student-teachers and educators from Newak and Orange school districts. She seamlessly weaved in the themes she centers in her work: home, identity, race, class and gender as she engaged in discussion. Ms. Watson spoke about the long path to self-love, the writing process, the inspiration for her stories, the resilience of the Black community and of course, Black joy, as she responded to and engaged with students from kindergarten through graduate school. The evening was a true celebration of childhood, specifically Black girlhood, and the power of individual stories to create collective joy.


February 24, 2022

Dr. Carla Shalaby

In her book, Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School, Dr. Carla Shalaby posits that classroom management is a curriculum–a series of lessons students learn from us–and invites us to consider: what do we teach now through our classroom management, and what we might want to teach instead? During her talk, she asked attendees to consider the troubling relationships between traditional classroom management approaches and carcerality, and to begin to wonder how intentionally shifting our models of power and authority in the classroom might instead support the teaching and learning of freedom. By seeing our troublemakers as a resource to leverage instead of a problem to solve, she urges us to imagine classrooms as a space in which we might practice the world we want to inhabit by rejecting disposability in favor of the struggle for love, justice, care, and healing.

Purchase the book

October 21, 2021

Critical Urban Education Speaker Series: Dr. Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen
Radical Care: Leading for Justice in Urban Schools

In her new book Radical Care: Leading for Justice in Urban Schools, Dr. Rivera-McCutchen argues that care, as typically described and enacted, is not sufficient for leading schools, particularly those serving Black and Latinx children. Instead, school leaders need to embrace radical care. During her talk, Dr. Rivera-McCutchen outlined the five components of radical care—adopting an antiracist stance, cultivating authentic relationships, believing in students’ and teachers’ capacity for excellence, leveraging power strategically, and embracing a spirit of radical hope—while sharing vignettes from her personal experiences and research that exemplify each of the components. Calling for educators to thoughtfully challenge existing structures that reproduce inequality, Radical Care offers a much-needed framework that will guide practice with a sense of urgency and a spirit of hope.

February 4, 2021

Critical Urban Education Speaker Series: Black Lives Matter in Schools Event
Presented Jamila Lyiscott and Young People from Newark: Vision-Driven Justice

Inspired by Dr. J’s TED Talk, 2053, this session will move beyond what it means to fight against social inequities by embracing powerful vision and action around what we are fighting for. Framed by what she has conceptualized as Vision-Driven Justice, Dr. J will share key principles of this orientation in conversation with youth who have been working on their visions for social change.

October 14, 2020 

Teachers as Deputies? Confronting ableism, racism, and linguicism, a conversation between Subini Annamma and Maria Cioé-Peña.

June 1, 2020 from 3:30-5:30 pm

Healing America’s Racial Divisions in the Age of Coronavirus: A conversation with Dr. Sean Ginwright featuring Drs. Farima Pour-Khorshid and Christina Villarreal

This event featured a closing performance with Lauren Adams of Sol Development.

February 17, 2020

We Want to Do More Than Survive: A Book Talk with Dr. Bettina Love

This event featured a curriculum fair with residents in MSU’s Newark Teacher Project

March 28, 2019

Language, Literacy, and Ethnic Studies: Mobilizing Insurgent Histories for More Dignified Futures: An Evening with Dr. Cati V. de los Rios

This event featured a local mariachi band.

February 21, 2019

Queering Sexy B(l)ack: Queer Youth and Pedagogies of Sexual Agency: An Evening with Dr. Ed Brockenbrough 

This event featured youth poets from The Loud Project.

April 18, 2018

Critical Urban Education Summit, a day-long professional development event for urban educators with nine guest speakers

January 25, 2018

We All Belong: A Lecture with Dr. Ariana Mangual Figueroa

This event featured a resource fair with organizations across Northern New Jersey.

March 23, 2017

Born Out of Struggle: A Book Talk with Dr. David Stovall 

This event featured a youth poet from Arts High School in Newark, NJ.