Heather Cole

Research Project Coordinator

hacole@utexas.edu / CV

Heather PhotoHeather Cole joined the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin as the Research Project Coordinator for the Generations Project in October 2015. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Ph.D. in Education in May 2015.

As a former civil rights attorney and education policy advisor, her research has focused on issues of marginalization, access and social justice.  Her work has looked at the ways public education systems discriminate and perpetuate intolerance and deficit thinking through teaching and administrative practice.  She is interested in researching promising new approaches to public education with schools as centers for greater equity, community engagement and inclusive social practice.

Areas of Interest

  • Marginalization by difference in public schooling, teaching and administration
  • Human rights, law and policy issues of discrimination in education
  • School-to-Prison Pipeline and youth at greatest risk of school push out
  • Social justice and school leadership
  • Community engagement and schools as centers for social change


Selected Publications

Pazey, B., & Cole, H. A. (2013). The role of special education training in the development of socially just leaders: Building an equity consciousness in educational leadership programs. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(2), 243-271.

Pazey, B., Cole, H. A., & Garcia, S.B. (2012). A framework for an inclusive model of social justice leadership preparation: Equity-oriented leadership for students with disabilities. In C. Boske and S. Diem (Eds.), Global leadership for social justice: Taking it from the field to practice, (pp. 193-216). Cambridge, MA: Emerald.

Pazey, B. L., Heilig, J. V., Cole, H. A., & Sumbera, M. (2015). The more things change, the more they stay the same: A comparative analysis of urban special population students’ schooling experiences in an environment of longstanding accountability. Urban Review, 47(3), 365-392.

Pierce, N., O’Reilly, M., Sorrells, A., Fragale, T., White, P., Aguilar, J., & Cole, H. A. (2014).  Ethnicity reporting practices for empirical research in three autism-related journals. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, published online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-014-2041-x.

Reed, D., Sorrells, A., Cole, H. A., & Takakawa, N. (2013). The ecological and population validity of reading interventions for adolescents: Can effectiveness be generalized? Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 36(3), 131-144.

Sorrells, A. M., Baker, S., Cole, H., & O’Raghallaigh, M. (2010). Persistent inequality in the wake of No Child Left Behind. In V. A. Green and S. Cherrington (Eds.), Delving into diversity: An international exploration of issues of diversity in education, (pp. 233-245). New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Wexler, J., Flower, A., Pyle, N., Williams, J., & Cole, H.A. (2014). A synthesis on academic interventions for incarcerated adolescents. The Review of Educational Research, 84(1), 3-46.


Selected Presentations

Cole, H. A., & Heilig, J.V. (2010, October). Developing a school-based youth court: An alternative to the school to prison pipeline. Presented at the 2010 annual convention of the University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA), New Orleans, LA.

McFarland, L., Cole, H. A., & Sorrells, A. (2012, April). Neglected children: Special education research on youth in foster care. Presented at the 2012 annual Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) convention, Denver, CO.

Cole, H. A., & Cohen, R. (2012, April). The ecological theory of the school to prison pipeline. Presented at the 2012 annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Cole, H. A., Cohen, R., Heilig, J., Irby, D., Jackson, D., & Nokilwa, N. (2013, May). The (il)legitimacy of school discipline. Presented at the annual AERA conference, San Francisco, CA.

Heilig, J. V., Ward, D.R., Weisman, E. & Cole, H. (2014, November). Community-Based Education reform: Implications for Policy and Accountability. Presented at the annual UCEA conference, Washington, D.C.

Cole, H. A., & Pazey, B. L. (2015, April). Committed to change: A multi-case study of three educators’ transformation to social justice leaders. Paper presented at the annual AERA Conference. Chicago, IL.