Image of RichMilner

Rich Milner

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning

Expert on urban education and teacher education, centering on equity and diversity.


Rich Milner is a researcher, scholar and leader of urban education and teacher education. Centering on equity and diversity, he has spent hundreds of hours observing teachers’ practices and interviewing educators and students in urban schools about micro-level policies that shape students’ opportunities to learn. He examines the social context of classrooms and schools and looks at how the ways in which teachers talk (particularly about race) influences student learning, identity and development. His research in urban schools and his book, “’These Kids are out of Control:’ Why We Must Reimagine Classroom Management,” (Corwin Press, 2018) has influenced designs and practices of teacher education courses and programs.

Media Appearances

  • OPINION: The time has come to stop assigning letter and number grades

    Schools should move away from assigning letter and numeric grades during the pandemic and beyond. It’s time to eliminate both the way we grade and the grades we have assigned in the past. No student should be told that he, she or they are failing — particularly during or after the pandemic.

    June 17th, 2021

  • At the Capitol, There Was Much Ado About Critical Race Theory — or Was There?

    “Critical race theory is a theoretical framework that emerged from critical legal studies to analyze the ways in which race and racism intersects with laws,” says Rich Milner, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt Peabody College.

    May 26th, 2021

  • 27% of teachers are considering quitting because of Covid, survey finds

    Richard Milner, professor of education at Vanderbilt University says these figures do not surprise him. “In fact, I suspect those numbers will probably increase over time,” he says. “Many teachers are barely keeping their heads above water and we don’t know how much longer we’re going to be in this space.”

    December 14th, 2020

  • How to Really Close Opportunity Gaps During Our National Racial Reckoning

    The Black Lives Matter movement strengthened dramatically this year, as millions of Americans took to the streets to protest police violence. Schools have an opportunity to use this momentum and movement to reimagine their curriculum and teaching. Rather than returning to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic—to stale, dated, predetermined, irrelevant, under-responsive, disconnected, and “racially neutral” curriculum and instructional practices that maintain a white-centric status quo—teachers have a renewed chance instead to address opportunity gaps in education.

    October 22nd, 2020

  • Mostly white schools need to focus on racial justice the most | Featured Letter

    Far too many believe that students in mostly white schools do not have to focus on racial justice. This notion is especially present in schools where there are very few students and teachers of color.

    September 10th, 2020

  • MNPS teacher placed on leave for homework about the n-word

    "It's difficult for sure in this particular context if the assignment is appropriate, but based on what I see, those are the kinds of questions we need to engage with our young people," said Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Education Richard Milner.

    November 19th, 2019

  • Opinion: Why we should worry more about school equity than desegregation

    In the landmark 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. However, many schools remained largely segregated even after the ruling. When some schools eventually became racially desegregated, systems of inequity proliferated, ensuring that students from different races would still remain separate in schools and that black students in particular would be negatively affected.

    November 13th, 2019

  • OPINION: Parents, here’s why your most important partner may be your child’s teacher (and vice versa)

    As teachers return to the start of school following summer break, I hope they will take some time to reflect on ways to effectively communicate and partner with the families of the students they teach. Particularly for educators in early and elementary education, they have a chance to set the course for how families imagine school and family connections. As a parent of young children, I know for sure that I am doing the very best I can to support them for school success. But, even as a university professor of education, I still experience a deep level of anxiety and vulnerability about how best to partner with teachers to support my children.

    August 29th, 2019

  • Opinion: Who is to blame for Nashville's school struggles? Not Shawn Joseph.

    When Shawn Joseph came to Nashville with an equity agenda, he was hailed. When he actually implemented that agenda, he was vilified.

    May 6th, 2019

  • 65 Years After 'Brown v. Board,' Where Are All the Black Educators?

    And black students are more likely to be placed in gifted education programs if they have a black teacher, and less likely to receive suspensions, expulsions, or detentions from black teachers. Research has found that black teachers have higher expectations for black students. “I think in general, black students benefit from working with teachers who deeply understand and are invested in their educational progress and success,” said Rich Milner, a professor of education at Vanderbilt University. “With the decline of teachers post Brown, we see that these students are often underserved and are not supported in ways that would be advantageous to their academic and social success.”

    May 14th, 2019


Doctor of Philosophy, The Ohio State University

Master of Arts, The Ohio State University

Master of Arts, South Carolina State University

Bachelor of Arts, South Carolina State University


VUStar is a broadcast facility that links experts to you 24/7. The studio offers HD and SD transmission and an ISDN line for radio interviews. The studio, staffing and phone lines are free when using Vanderbilt experts.