Voices in Urban Education (VUE) publishes themed issues and does not accept articles on a rolling basis. Please review our current active call prior to submission. 

Before submitting you should read over the guidelines here, then register an account (or login if you have an existing account).


VUE is an open-access journal published twice annually that endeavors to serve as a “roundtable-in-print” by bringing together diverse education stakeholders with a wide range of viewpoints, including leading education writers and thinkers and essential but frequently underrepresented voices in educational scholarship, such as students, parents, teachers, activists, and community members.

Each issue of VUE is organized around a theme and strives to provide cutting-edge analysis of a vital issue in urban public education—formats include visual arts, articles, interviews, video and written documentaries, poetry, and autoethnographies.

Our newly structured editorial board currently runs VUE. It consists of our lead editorial team, composed of faculty members in the roles of the editor-in-chief and the deputy editor. The Editorial Board also includes doctoral fellows who step into Senior Fellows, Junior Fellows, and Content Editor Fellows positions. These doctoral students join the board from various higher education institutions and bring a breadth of expertise to the board. 

Focus and Scope

Voices in Urban Education (ISSN 1553-541X) is published twice a year in Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter by the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. It features articles and other works of scholarly and general significance to a wide range of interests and communities who experience urban education through a variety of entry points.

Articles seek to cover a wide range of disciplines with a strong emphasis on trans-sectional and transdisciplinary perspectives aimed at examining successes, problems, and questions in policy, advocacy, and teaching and learning practices in urban education. VUE pays particular attention to pieces that highlight the experiences, hopes, dreams, and concerns of historically underrepresented and vulnerable groups in education along lines of gender, race, sexual identity, dis/ability, language, ethnicity, religion, and indigenous or immigration status. As an open-access journal, VUE aims to disseminate important, topical, relevant, and urgent research, thoughts, and commentary to a wide audience.

Conversations in Urban Education consist of interviews (in-person transcripts or electronic correspondence) with thinkers, leaders, advocates, and students at the forefront of struggles for equity in schools. Interviews may contain footnotes but require few or no references and should be vetted for factual accuracy by the interviewer prior to submission. Interviews may range between 3,000 and 5,000 words, but word counts may be adjusted at the discretion of the editors. In addition to completed interviews, VUE accepts offers to be interviewed as potential submissions. Potential interviewees should indicate the topic(s) about which they would like to be interviewed, a summary of their relevant background or expertise on the topic(s), and how their interview might add to the body of knowledge around a specific conversation of interest in urban education.

Research Perspectives in Urban Education consist of more traditionally academic research pieces, either studies conducted with an urban education focus or technical commentaries on existing research or strands of research. VUE has a preference for transdisciplinary, trans-sectional, participatory or partnership (researcher-practitioner, practitioner-student, practitioner-advocate, advocate-student, etc.) pieces that are inclusive of broader perspectives and experiences within urban education. However, we will consider more traditionally academic pieces that add to the body of knowledge or to important topical conversations around equity, liberation, abolition, and justice in education. Action research and design-based studies with an equity focus conducted by teachers and/or students/parents will be considered. Research pieces should include an abstract, introduction, and up to 40 references (hyperlinked if possible) and may include up to six tables/figures.

Commentaries in Urban Education consist of technical comments, opinions, and narratives of experience and/or guidance from leaders at the forefront of important conversations and issues in urban education, including but not limited to: school integration, school funding, disproportionality, school culture and climate, school discipline, campus safety, racial bias, culturally responsive/sustaining education, the decolonization of education, critical theories in education, etc. VUE considers anyone a potential thought leader, from students and non-instructional school staff through district and state leadership, as well as within and beyond the frames of what is traditionally thought of as leadership. Thought leaders’ pieces should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words and may contain up to 10 references to scholarly or other contextual sources.

Expressions in Urban Education consist of any pieces relevant to expanding the understanding and horizons of urban education that do not fall within the three main genres listed above. Such pieces may consist of lyrical, slam, poetic, video, musical, documentary, narrative, artistic, or other pieces traditionally un(der)represented in academic scholarship. Because a variety of formats and modalities that go beyond textuality may fall into this category, Expressions in Urban Education Voices in Urban Education pieces may appear in the online-only version of VUE but will be credited in both the online and print versions. Submission size and guidelines will vary by piece, but all submissions that potentially fall into this category are welcome and will be reviewed.

Call for Submissions:

Education, as Paulo Freire described, either functions to bring about pacification through conformity to capitalism and state repression or “it becomes the practice of freedom” (Freire, 2000, p. 34). As Freire taught us, there is a dialectical relationship between study and struggle. Political organizations and grassroots formations have long designed and utilized educational processes in order to critically understand how the world works in order to change it. From the schools established in liberated zones by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) freedom schools in Mississippi—oppressed groups have built liberatory models of education and fought to reclaim their right to educational resources and time. 

Rigorous, politicized education projects have also long existed in unlikely sites—like within the death-dealing institution of the prison, where student-scholars and comrades on the outside have struggled for freedom through education. Advancing liberatory approaches to education in carceral institutions requires critically examining the rise and role of the prison industrial complex (PIC). The PIC is a term that was first used by Mike Davis (Davis, 1995) and later popularized by the grassroots, political organization Critical Resistance in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The PIC emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, and refers to the “overlapping interests of government and industry that use imprisonment, policing, and surveillance as solutions to economic, social, and political problems” (“What is the PIC?” n.d.). In 2008, US incarceration rates peaked with an estimated 2.3 million people imprisoned (Kang-Brown et al., 2021); fast forward to present-day and there are approximately 5.5 million people under supervision by the criminal legal system (Wang, 2023). The doubling down on investments in the PIC over the past 40+ years represents a consolidation of state power in surveillance, containment, and social control.

This organization of state capacities toward punishment is part of the bi-partisan neoliberal austerity agenda that has divested from social welfare, including the institution and idea of public education. As Nancy MacLean has documented, this attack against public education has its roots in the theories of neoliberal economists like Milton Friedman, who waged a life-long campaign beginning in 1955 to defund public education amidst the white supremacist backlash against desegregation (MacLean, 2021). As economic and racial inequality has widened in the decades since, state investment has shifted further from schooling to punishment. For instance, in California and New York public post-secondary education was tuition-free until the late 1960s and 1970s, yet over the past three and a half decades both New York and California have consistently spent more on imprisonment than on education. 

Moreover, as our society continues to prioritize punishment over learning, schools are reconfigured into carceral spaces. Policing in schools has spread throughout K-12 and higher education systems in the US. In K-12 schooling, Black students in particular are disproportionately suspended, expelled, and targeted for criminalization (Whittenberg & Fernandez, n.d.). Additionally, educators and students are forced to navigate and confront the more than 300 bills that have been introduced in over 30 states throughout the US since 2021 restricting the teaching of Queer, Trans, and Black histories in classrooms (PEN America Index of Educational Gag Orders, n.d.). This right-wing campaign to end so-called “woke indoctrination” uses the tools of the PIC, namely policing and criminalization. At the university level, radical teaching and student organizing continues to face repression. Senior university administrators rely on punitive disciplinary processes, and increasingly militarized campus police forces and partnerships with local police departments to curb radical dissent. This ongoing shift towards carcerality within colleges and universities is happening amidst a resurgence of university-sponsored college-in-prison programs, a critical contradiction for PIC abolitionists to engage.

How can we as students and educators (most broadly defined) working and living in these conditions, continue to advance education as a practice of freedom against the PIC? Although the prison is a social and physical partition–separating people from their communities and controlling their mobility–it is also a permeable public institution. Most people who are incarcerated will return home, and those who face death by incarceration remain vital members of society, retain important links and make important contributions to social life. William Anderson has explained that what happens inside prisons ultimately permeates across the walls, shaping society at large and affecting us all to varying degrees (Anderson, 2022). As fascism continues to rise in and outside of carceral institutions, education is a key terrain of struggle on both sides of the wall. 

Education as an abolitionist practice is a process of radical transformation through which we change ourselves as we struggle together to build the world we need. In the words of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, the struggle for “abolition is not absence, it is presence. What the world will become already exists in fragments and pieces, experiments and possibilities. Abolition is building the future from the present in all the ways we can.” (Gilmore, 2018). While the term abolition has become more popularized following the 2020 uprisings, reflecting a broadening of the common sense that incarceration causes more social problems than it purports to solve, it remains imperative to get evermore clear on what exactly the presence of abolition means. In this spirit, for the Fall 2024 issue of Voices in Urban Education we invite you to contribute to this struggle, to articulate and map the contradictions, challenges, and radical possibilities of abolitionist praxis and education across prison walls. We are especially interested in pieces that engage the following questions/themes:

For educators and students working within or confined within the death-dealing institution of the prison, how do we facilitate learning and nurture liberatory communities under severe state repression and institutional unfreedom? 

How do we gain and expand access to resources and the right to education for incarcerated people without reinforcing the PIC or playing into reformist plans towards “carceral humanism?”(Kilgore, 2014) 

As originally posed by the Education Justice Project of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, “How do we argue for expansion of higher education in prisons across the state (and beyond), while at the same time insisting on the need to close prisons?”

How do we safeguard cross-wall communication and access to imprisoned loved ones and comrades, while organizing against prisons? 

What are the risks to abolitionist movements and incarcerated people when Universities, with their own carceral investments and security logics, run educational programs inside of prison?

What is the value of programming and accredited degrees as a counterweight to the stigma of a record and the time that is stolen from prisoners? 

How do writing, reading, and reflection (or the cultivation of an intellectual life) fortify the will to survive and fight against the PIC? 

How are intellectual activity and various forms of radical political education targeted and repressed inside of prisons and jails? 

How does the PIC and state censorship repress international solidarity organizing and consciousness-raising work inside of prisons and universities?

How is the fight for police-free schools and greater investment in public education connected to educational access for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people?


Anderson, W.C. (2022, October 4). What happens in prison becomes the norm. Prism.

Davis, M. (1995, February 20). Hell factories in the field: a prison-industrial complex. The 

Nation, p. 229-234.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.). Continuum.

Gilmore, R.W. (2018, December 18). Making abolition geography in california’s central valley. 

The Funambulist, (no. 21),

Kang-Brown, J., Montagnet, C., and Heiss, J (2021). People in jail and prison in spring 2021.

Vera Institute of Justice .

Kilgore, J. (2014, June 6). Repackaging mass incarceration. Counterpunch.

MacLean, N. (2021). How milton friedman exploited white supremacy to privatize education.

Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series, (161).

Wang, L. (2023). Punishment beyond prisons: incarceration and supervision by state. Prison 

Policy Initiative.

What is the PIC? what is abolition? Critical Resistance (n.d.).

Whittenberg, T., Fernandez, M. (n.d.). Ending Student Criminalization and the School-to-Prison 

Pipeline. Advancement Project and the NYU Steinhardt Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

PEN America Index of Educational Gag Orders. (n.d.). Airtable.



Submission Checklist

Guidelines for full draft version submissions:

Upon acceptance of your proposal, you will be invited to submit a full draft of your submission. Below, you will find guidelines on the full submission. The deadline to submit full manuscripts is March 31, 2024.

Manuscript length: 2,000-5,000 words depending on format of submission (see formats in Focus and Scope section), excluding cover page, abstract, references, tables and figures. Please indicate the submission format for which you wish your manuscript to be considered.

All manuscripts must include an abstract of 100-150 words. Below the abstract, include five keywords for indexing purposes.

All manuscripts will be copy edited to adhere to APA 7th Edition Formatting and Style Guide. You can find guidelines and examples online and/or we will work with you to ensure accurate stylistic guidelines are met.

Once a manuscript is formally accepted, VUE reserves the right to publish it. To request withdrawal of your manuscript after formal acceptance, please contact our managing editor at 

Authors of accepted manuscripts will be required to sign the Transfer of Copyright Agreement form. This is standard practice for journals.

Authors of accepted manuscripts will agree to help promote their work by sharing the journal with others. 

All submissions must be submitted through Janeway via our submissions page.

All manuscripts must follow ADA accessibility guidelines. Please see guidance on how to produce accessible Microsoft Word Documents and Google Docs

We will work with all contributors to ensure that these guidelines are met. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any questions. 

Copyright Notice

Written submissions to VUE are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Permission for use should be obtained from the authors who hold the copyright. Student artwork is not under an open license unless otherwise specified and remains the copyright of the creator.

Peer Review This journal operates under an open peer review process.

VUE (Voices in Urban Education) allows the following licences for submission:

  • - More Information  
  • CC BY 4.0 - More Information  
    Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
Publication Fees

We do not charge a publication fee for Voices in Urban Education. We are currently being funded by the Spencer Foundation.

Publication Cycle

This journal published bi-annually with one issue released in the Fall/Winter and the other released in the Spring/Summer. This current call is for Volume 53, Issue 1 (Fall 2024). The theme for this special issue is Abolitionist Praxis and Education Across Prison Walls.  


Section or article type

Public Submissions

Peer Reviewed



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Commentaries in Urban Education

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Conversations in Urban Education

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Research Perspectives in Urban Education

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Expressions in Urban Education

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Table of Contents