Ashley L. Whiteshe/her
Ashley L. White is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Before her appointment at UW – Madison, Dr. White served as the 2019-2020 Joseph P. Kennedy Public Policy Fellow with the Committee on Education and Labor under Chairman Robert “Bobby” C. Scott. Before earning her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida (USF), White taught for 15 years in general, inclusive, and isolated special education settings, and served as a resource teacher, primarily in public schools. During her time as a public school educator, White also conducted professional development for educators across the district.
White has engaged in a host of policy work and self-initiated study, conducting interdisciplinary research with the University of South Florida’s Department of Psychology and the Department of Behavioral Sciences. Additionally, White engaged in intercollegiate research with the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. While teaching and developing initiatives for USF’s David C. Anchin Center, she also consulted for the Pyramid Model Consortium and developed and facilitated her own professional development series. This professional development series focused on culturally responsive and responsible practices within classrooms, schools, and districts. White has also worked with several educational organizations and scholars on various grant proposals and curriculum projects.
As a recipient of the Special Education Policy Studies (SEPS) Grant (provided by the United States Department of Education’s [ED] Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP]), White took a keen interest in special education/disability policy. Her introduction to special education policy began with the Higher Education Consortium’s (HECSE) Short Course, a course prepared and instructed by Dr. Jane West, specifically for doctoral students to gain a deeper understanding of special education policy and processes. Since taking the Short Course, White served as the HECSE intern from 2017-2019 and continues to co-teach HECSE’s Short Course.
White also interned at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) working on policy matters including but not limited to regulatory reforms, grant priorities, and engagement with advocacy organizations. In addition to her HECSE and OSEP internships, White interned for U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14) where she worked on various initiatives, including educational oversight. As a Committee staffer, White worked on other legislation / policy including but not limited to the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the College Affordability Act (CAA), and associated hearings and briefings. In her role, she provided policy insight informed by her experiences as an educator, scholar, and advocate.
As a scholar and advocate, Dr. White is particularly invested in studying policy and practice solutions for multi-marginalized students and individuals with disabilities. Specifically, Dr. White researches the intersectionality of ethno-racial identities and disability in P-postsecondary settings through the consideration of applicable federal legislation and other policies. Additionally, White’s research includes the examination of the socioeconomic consequences of disability and race polices in education as well as the historicized construct of race. White envisions restorative policy and practice as a way to address inequities that persist for individuals with disabilities and believes that equitable policy is made, not by one person exercising their specific expertise, but through grounded research, collaboration, and careful consideration of the political landscape, none of which can be achieved without the intentional building of reciprocal relationships with policy stakeholders. Most importantly, policy should not be discussed, considered, or initiated without the input of students, individuals, families, and communities affected by proposed and instituted policies.
As an educator, Dr. White has merged her teaching and personal experiences with her scholarship and policy advocacy towards the ever present goal of ensuring equitable outcomes for individuals with disabilities and beyond. In addition to her scholarship, White also serves as the inaugural Educational Fellow for Equity Access and Opportunity, with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In this role, she works to merge the Association’s programmatic efforts with a burgeoning policy agenda that supports marginalized student groups and communities and the Association’s broader membership.
In addition to her roles as faculty and educational fellow, White has also worked with multiple school districts and organizations in the pursuit of educational equity. In addition to conducting professional development related to race, disability, and equity for educators across the P-20 spectrum and developing her own professional learning series, Dr. White has also conducted research for selected district initiatives and completed reports for educational organizations. Most recently, Dr. White completed a report for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) related to censorship in higher education. With this report, she has been able to discuss the state of education censorship with educational stakeholders nationwide, including higher ed. faculty and P-12 staff. White’s acuity when discussing issues of equity in education are informed by her fifteen years as a P-12 educator, personal student experience, and her research, teaching, and policy work. White has used her personal and professional experiences to develop a distinctive approach for discussing the difficult but necessary subject matter that is essential for both maximizing the capacity of educators and for ensuring equitable learning experiences for students. In her approach, Dr. White also embeds essential tools for how educational stakeholders such as parents and educators can influence policy and practice mandates through advocacy efforts. Dr. White’s work has been featured in scholarly journals and books, on national education and civil rights organization platforms, and in various media outlets.