In the classroom at Kit Carson Middle School in Sacramento,
Michal Kurlaender sits at one of four small desks pushed to face
each other. The walls are papered in yellow, red and bright blue,
and wavy corrugated borders frame a flutter of papers under the
Kurlaender is interviewing a teacher as part of her evaluation of
the school’s teacher development program to improve students’
college readiness skills. The sudden, grating buzz of the class
bell startles everyone. Kurlaender smiles. “It’s nicer when it’s
the music instead,” she says.
In his lab by the freeway in Davis, Ross Thompson, a
developmental psychologist, pulls a plush monkey puppet onto each
hand and stands behind a cardboard “stage.” A red curtain hangs
across a cutout in the front.
“We would normally have animated voices and all the rest,” he
says. “If you do this in a way that is within the child’s
capabilities, you will find that they have a much richer sense of
themselves psychologically than we give them credit for.”
During Ariel Kalil’s visit in April as a Center for Poverty
Research Visiting Faculty Scholar, snatches of conversation could
be heard from her temporary office. One student asked about how
to make his work more relevant to public policy. Another talked
about what it was like being a first-generation college student.
“I guess in some part they wanted to find out more about the path
that I had taken, because it is a bit unusual,” says Kalil.