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Dr. Linda McSpadden McNeil

Dr. Linda McSpadden McNeil

Linda McSpadden McNeil is the Director of the Center for Education at Rice University and a member of the Rice Education faculty. Formerly on the faculty of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, she has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, visiting professor at the University of Washington–Seattle, and Department Chair of Education at Rice University. 

A curriculum theorist and analyst of school structure and reform, she is the author of Contradictions of Control: School Structure and School Knowledge, which has become a classic volume in the field of education.  Contradictions of Control cut new ground in the understanding of the effects of bureaucratic structures of schooling on teaching and learning. 

  photo of Linda McSpadden McNeil
Her second book, Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing, released in 2000, is having a strong impact on public understanding of the negative consequences of legislated standardization. Dr. McNeil has written extensively on teaching and learning in urban schools, on school organization, and on policy and standardization.  Her scholarly writings are cited in more than 90 scholarly publications, in fields ranging from curriculum theory and teaching and learning, to school administration and organization, educational policy, equity, and urban schooling.  A recent publication is "Faking Equity: High-Stakes Testing and the Education of Latino Youth," which addresses the intersection of equity, learning, and policy.

Cover of book, Teach Boldly Dr. McNeil's recent chapter, "Teaching Boldly in Timid Schools: Reflecting on Knowledge Access and Knowledge Control," is part of the book Teach Boldly!, a collection of letters to teachers urging them to use wisdom and courage to do what they know is best for their students despite the obstacles.

Among her leadership roles, Dr. McNeil served as Vice President of the Curriculum Studies Division of the American Educational Research Association, and she chaired the national AERA/Spencer Foundation Doctoral Training Fellowship Program.  She recently completed a three-year term as editor of the Social and Institutional Analysis section of the American Educational Research Journal

In addition to her teaching and scholarly activity, Dr. McNeil, with scientist Dr. Ronald L. Sass, founded in 1988 the Center for Education to support research and teacher enhancement programs which would address the persistent problems of inequity and uneven quality in urban schools.  She and her colleagues in the Center for Education have for the past twenty years designed, created, funded, and operated programs to retrain urban teachers in their subject fields and in children’s learning and cultures.  The Center for Education is unique in its staying power, its attention to the long-term developmental approach to teachers’ learning, and in its commitment to raising the funds needed to make these programs accessible to teachers in the poorest schools.  The Center is a lead organization in urban school reform and research.  In addition, Dr. McNeil is the central author of The Child-Centered Schools Initiative: A Proposal to the Annenberg Challenge for Public School Reform which brought the $20 million Annenberg Challenge Grant to Houston.  In 2003 Linda McNeil was recognized as Outstanding Alumna of the University of Wisconsin School of Education.