Professor honored for innovative community education programs

SF State Associate Professor Jeff Duncan-Andrade stands in front of the ethnic studies building.

Jeff Duncan-Andrade named 2019 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate  

Visit Jeff Duncan-Andrade’s office in San Francisco State University’s Ethnic Studies & Psychology Building and you’ll see boxes filled with plaques and statues — honors he has accrued over a 25-year career in education. But the San Francisco State associate professor of Latina/Latino studies says accumulating kudos has never been his goal.

“I think they are a way to acknowledge you for what you’ve done, not for what you will do,” Duncan-Andrade said. “I want to stay present about what I can do next and what I can do better.”

Despite that lack of interest in racking up acclaim, Duncan-Andrade just received more: He was named the 2019 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate. The award is bestowed annually on an innovative educator chosen from an international field of nominees. Duncan-Andrade was officially presented with the honor last week at a symposium in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

A co-founder of the Roses in Concrete Community School, a lab school in Oakland that provides an alternative model for urban education, Duncan-Andrade is also a faculty member in SF State’s Race and Resistance Studies department. And through the Community Responsive Education Group, which he co-founded, he works directly with schools around the world to improve education for underprivileged and at-risk students.

“We are honored to have Jeff Duncan-Andrade as our 2019 Laureate,” said Brock Prize founder John A. Brock. “The prize is about educational ideas that make a difference, and his work in creating and helping others create positive, equitable learning environments is significant in transforming educational outcomes for all children.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Duncan-Andrade first nourished his love for teaching as a youth sports coach. After graduating with a major in literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1992 he became a middle school and high school teacher in Oakland. After enrolling in and graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, he joined SF State as a faculty member in 2004 and later resurrected the University’s Step to College Program, a collaboration with local high schools that promotes higher education for underrepresented minorities and low-income students today.

“I would sometimes be teaching my high school English class with a student’s baby strapped to my chest,” Duncan-Andrade said of his Step to College students, a cohort of 30 he taught for four consecutive years. “Ninety percent of those kids would go on to four-year CSUs and UCs, and that was in a school where the graduation rate was hovering around 50 percent.”

Today, Duncan-Andrade spends much of his time traveling to schools around the country on behalf of the Community Responsive Education Group, sharing his experiences as a teacher and community member as well as his deep understanding of educational research.

“Teaching in schools can be very challenging, and it’s easy to get down on yourself,” said SF State Professor of Asian American Studies Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, who co-founded the group and has collaborated with Duncan-Andrade on developing community-responsive pedagogy for more than 10 years. “Jeff really embodies that sense of hope that helps people feel like they can take on the work and move forward. He’s extremely inspiring to so many people, including myself.”