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Who is Gholnecsar Muhammad?
Gholnecsar Muhammad describes herself on her Twitter account as a “Disruptor of Oppression.”
An associate professor of language and literacy at Georgia State University, Muhammad, known as “Gholdy,” received her Ph.D. in literacy, language and culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is director of the Urban Literacy Collaborative and Clinic at Georgia State University.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded her $750,000 to study “culturally and historically responsive literacy in STEM classrooms.”
On Jan. 31, 2018, Muhammad established HILL Pedagogies LLC, based in Douglasville, Georgia, according to Georgia Secretary of State records. It is an “educational consulting company that works to advance and respond to students’ Histories, Identities, Literacies and Liberation,” according to its website.
On Nov. 13, 2020, she founded Hill Pedagogies Services Inc., also based in Douglasville, Georgia, according to Georgia Secretary of State records.
As of Oct. 10, 2021, her website said Muhammad “leads efforts and provides consultation based on culturally and historically responsive education.”
It continued: “We offer professional learning that shapes theory, policy and practice for educating youth who have been underserved in and around schools. Following content within the best-selling book, Cultivating Genius, we work with parents, leaders, teachers and young people across the United States and abroad toward best pedagogical practices.”
Muhammad described herself as a “leader who strives to shape the national conversation for educating youth that have been underserved.” Her biography notes that she has worked as a school district curriculum director, leading K-12 literacy instruction, assessments and professional development, a reading, language arts and social studies middle school teacher and “school board president.”
On Jan. 1, 2020, she authored, “Cultivating Genius: An Equity Model for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacyl”
In an article coauthored by Muhammad, headlined “Teaching Toward Genius: And Equity Model for Pedagogy in Action,” she wrote, “criticality” is “the capacity and ability to read, write, think, and speak in ways to understand power and equity in order to understand and promote anti-oppression.”
She continued: “In Cultivating Genius, I (Gholdy) define oppression simply as any wrongdoing, hurt, or harm, including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, or any other oppression. Unlike lower case “c” critical, which is just deep and analytical thinking, Critical with a capital ‘c’ is related to power, equity, and anti-oppression. As learning takes place, one asks, ‘How am I developing an understanding of power, equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression?'”
On June 23, 2020, Haymarket Books hosted a conversation with Muhammad, Bettina Love, founder of Love Educational Services, LLC, consultant Dena Simmons and Brian Jones, associate director for education at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, about “abolitionist teaching and antiracist education.”
She spoke about reading the Qur’an as a child and reading a hadith, or saying or action of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, that said to protest injustice with “the voice” as one of three actions.
Love repeated a theme of hers: “They’re spirit murdering our babies.” (24:00)
In mid-July 2021, Muhammad taught a course, “Cultivating Genius & Joy in Islamic Schools,” hosted by Islamic Schools League of America. She is author of a book, “Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.”
What services does Gholnecsar Muhammad offer?
Through her company, Hill Pedagogies, Gholnecsar Muhammad offers a number of services, including: “book club/article studies,” “curriculum review and evaluation,” “consulting with school or district leadership,” “equity audits,” “grant writing or consulting,” “instructional coaching,” “instructional modeling,” “literacy audits,” “lesson study; curriculum writing,” “keynotes” and workshops.
In an interview headlined, “Cultivating Genius,” on Education Week, Muhammad said: “Black Historical Excellence is necessary because what we have been doing for decades has not fully served all children, especially Black children. We have been failing children. We have been failing teachers. We have been teaching within school walls of whiteness.”
What K-12 work has Gholnecsar Muhammad done?
U.S. Department of Education
In 2018, Muhammad received a grant of $749,896 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study “Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program, “STEM is LIT(ERCIES): A Culturally and Historically Responsive Model for Teaching Literacy Across STEM,” according to an announcement by Georgia State University.
In her resume, Muhammad detailed that she received $794,030 in “funded grants” between 2015 and 2018.
Castro Valley Unified School District
On Feb. 25, 2021, Muhammad participated in a panel, “Black Futures & Black Joy,” moderated by Bettina Love, cofounder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network and founder of Love Educational Services, LLC.
The registration.page for the event said: “Our future is BLACK and filled with JOY. This beautiful panel will take us on a journey of a Black future filled with joy, justice, art, and love.”
The other speakers were Stacey Robinson, assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, an associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Los Angeles Unified School District
In February 2021, the Partnership for Los Angeles Unified School District sent a letter to parents, introducing Muhammad as its “Equity Champion in Residence,” supporting instructional staff and strengthening “anti-racist” work.
Muhammad promoted “Historically Responsive Learning,” which included critical race theory as one of four significant elements to be included in planning lessons. She went to one school and said that that it wasn’t possible for a community to be “not racist.” Teachers spent up to five hours in professional development on units that teach intelligence, skills, identity, and “criticality,” or “oppression, equity, and antiracism.”
Naperville Community Unit School District 203
The school district paid Muhammad $2,875 for a two-hour virtual workshop.
Olentangy Local School District
On Dec. 1, 2021, Muhammad signed a contract with Olentangy Local School District to deliver a one-hour keynote address, “Cultivating Healing and Joy Through Culturally and Historically Responsive Pedagogy,” for a fee of $4,000.
The outcomes included educators getting an “understanding of culture, equity, anti-racism, joy, and culturally & historically responsive instruction,” which she called “CHRE.”
The contract stipulated:
In the virtual, foundational session, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad will present for 30 minutes clearly defining culture, equity, anti-racism, joy, and culturally & historically responsive education. Together, culture will be explored and revisited in deep, multifaceted ways. We will consider our own cultural identities and approaches to learning the cultures/identities of students. By the end of this session, the educators will understand culture and will be charged to engage in self-identity work. The facilitator will also introduce educators to the model of culturally and historically responsive education. Educators will learn a brief history of CHRE and the power of education among communities of color in the United States. In addition, educators will be introduced to a four-layered equity model for teaching and learning (1) identity, (2) skills, (3) intellectualism and (4) criticality. Exemplar CHRE lesson and unit plans across the contents and grade levels will be shown and discussed. The participants will engage in 30 minutes of questions and answers.
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