scholarlypartnershipsedu Spring 2007 • Volume 2, Number 1
Contents Introduction ..................................................................................................................3
In the Shadow of Brown ................................................................................................5 Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence: Trust and Empathy on the Path to Multiculturalism ....................................................25 Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on the Urban Education Contexts of Race and Social Class in the Current Climate of Standards and Accountability ...................................................................................45 Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams
Schooling in India: Eﬀects of Gender and Caste .........................................................59 M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton
Introduction Welcome to the second volume of scholarlypartnershipsedu. We have received positive responses from our initial venture in fall 2006 to provide an outlet for scholarpractitioners to disseminate their theoretical, practical, and/or applied discussions and research to the broad ﬁeld of education. To this end, all research and submitted manuscripts continue to be coauthored by educators from the university setting and those in P–12 schools. Our focus remains the same: to encourage the professional development of both parties as they co-construct meaning from their writing and research relationships. This issue speciﬁcally focuses on topics of race, class, and gender equity in education. Each of the authors approaches equity in diﬀerent ways, and all bring critical perspective to these issues. As our educational system continues to evolve and as our teachers and teacher educators face ever greater demands of equity issues in our communities and schools, it is important to confront these issues in their many conﬁgurations. The ﬁrst article in this volume revisits the issues of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas after the 50th anniversary of this monumental court decision in 1954. Brown’s legacy in a local school corporation is aptly explored by Murphey and Martz as they examine the history of a local high school and its political, demographic, economic, and racial balance struggles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Their examination from an historical lens assists the reader to construct new solutions and meaning to race, equity, and economic issues that schools continue to face. The second article, Little Things That Make a Big Diﬀerence: Trust and Empathy on the Path to Multiculturalism, explores a university-school outreach program designed to provide the local school with professional development opportunities to assist its teachers to improve the overall learning environment for recently arriving immigrants and new English Language Learners. The authors, Korth, Martin, and Sotoo, discuss school-based needs for trust and empathy along with practical activities aimed at increasing these positive school environmental attributes. To quote the authors, “together, we represent three of many constituent actors working collaboratively to learn from, beneﬁt from, confront challenges in, and share with a diverse community of scholars, practitioners, and students.” 3
Introduction Article three by Horn, Conway, and Williams examines reﬂections on urban education as it centralizes the discussion on race and social class within the current climate of national standards and accountability. The authors begin with a discussion and deﬁnition of the fundamental tenets of scholar-practitioner leadership, and then expand their narrative to critical analysis and reﬂection of important educational issues. The authors’ comments come full circle as they argue that to most eﬀectively examine issues of race, class, gender, and equity, one must examine and explore these issues through a scholar-practitioner critical lens. The ﬁnal article provided by Hickey and Stratton examines the educational opportunities of rural females living in India using a methodology of immigrant narratives, educational reports, and ﬁrsthand observations in an Indian rural primary school. These authors examine the political, social, and economic issues that surround Indian female non-participation in formal schooling suggesting that class, caste, and gender socialization each contribute to limited advantages and poor opportunities for upward social mobility. In conclusion, Hickey and Stratton compare and contrast their ﬁndings to American schools and the formal education of American women. We hope you enjoy this edition of scholarlypartnershipsedu that brings diﬀerent critical lenses to pressing equity issues, issues that we know are a common struggle for all of us. We invite you to contact and dialogue with the authors about any questions or comments you may have; we also invite you, scholarly partners, to submit rejoinders to the articles we’ve published in our journal. We’re looking for articles in which the distinct voice of the diﬀerent authors is clear, so that together they give us an enriched perspective on an issue that they are grappling with together, from their diﬀerent settings. In addition, we encourage you to submit manuscripts coauthored by university and P–12 scholar-practitioners for the spring 2008 open-themed edition. As the educational environment continues to become more complex and as we all attempt to meet the needs of a growingly diverse and diﬀerentiated community of learners, it remains important to educators, both in the university and P–12 school setting, to become critical examiners of research and practice and therefore practical partners in the care and education of children, and in eﬀect, the schooling process. We continue to invite you on this journey of exploration and growth. The Editors, scholarlypartnershipsedu
In the Shadow of Brown Kathleen A. Murphey, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, & Dawn Runger Martz, Educator, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Abstract In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), master’s students in a History of Education course were inspired to investigate Brown’s legacy in local school corporations. One student explored the history of a local high school that appeared to be racially imbalanced relative to the corporation as a whole. She delves into the history of the high school, focusing on the political struggles about consolidation and racial balance that enveloped the school corporation in the 1980s and early 1990s, then places these struggles within the context of economic and demographic change in the school corporation as well as in the county. The student and the course instructor reﬂect on what it means today to be living in the shadow of the Brown decision, and how historical research can help us construct new solutions for understanding and dealing with race and equity issues, as economic and demographic factors continue to reshape the reality that schools face.
Brown’s Shadow: History as a Lens on the Present — Kathleen A. Murphey I teach a course, EDUC H504, the History of American Education, at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne. In this master’s-level course, usually taken by practicing teachers and administrators as part of their graduate degree programs, the students study educational history by completing a local educational history project. They locate and interview people involved in the history, search through school board minutes, and read archived newspapers as they track down concrete evidence for their project. They “construct” the history, discovering in the process how diﬃcult it is to pin down what exactly happened; when, by, and to whom; and how to make sense of it all. The students become detectives, and through their searches they construct interpretations of the past. It is an exercise in constructing knowledge about the past to use as a lens for understanding educational policies and praxis of today. The students’ papers always seem 5
In the Shadow of Brown to show that schooling is inseparably embedded in the historical, economic, political, and social fabric of the community. In 2004, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) celebrated its 50th anniversary, which led to renewed reﬂection among educators and others about the impact and legacy of that legislation on racially segregated school systems (Altenbaugh, 2004; Anderson, Attwood, & Howard, 2004; Bell, 2004; Carter, Flores, & Reddick, 2004; Cottrol, Diamond, & Ware, 2003; Perlstein, 2004b; Morris & Morris, 2002; Patterson, 2001). The legacy of Brown has been, and continues to be, much contested, especially at a time when resegregation is becoming the norm (Boger & Orﬁeld, 2005; Clotfelter, 2004; Ladson-Billings, 2004; Orﬁeld & Eaton, 1996). The anniversary year became a springboard for much renewed historical scholarship about desegregation struggles in individual cities (Dougherty, 2004; Formisano, 2004; Heaney & Uchitelle, 2004; Perlstein, 2004a; Smith, 2004). The 50 years of distance we now have on Brown allow us to reanalyze the racial equity policies and practices of the past as we search to make sense of current realities. The reawakened interest in Brown has had an impact on my H504 classes. We read about the eﬀorts of a ﬁfth grade class to study the history of desegregation in their town in New Jersey (Anand, Fine, Perkins, Surrey, & the Renaissance School Class of 2000, 2002); we read reports written by the Fort Wayne Urban League that document The state of Black Fort Wayne at the beginning and end of a 40-year period (1964; 2003). These readings, along with the 50th anniversary of Brown, have inspired several students to look into racial balance issues in local school districts. In 2004, one student, Dawn Runger Martz, chose to look at the history of Paul Harding High School, a high school whose student body is now predominantly African American in a local school district just east of Fort Wayne, East Allen County Schools (EACS or East Allen), whose other four high schools are predominantly white. Allen County, in northeast Indiana, includes 20 townships that house four school corporations. Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS), in the southwest corner of the county, is comprised of two townships: Aboite and Lafayette; Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS), in the northwest of the county, is comprised of three townships: Lake, Eel River, and Perry. Both SACS and NACS, now mainly suburban, have developed in the past 20 years from what were rural communities. Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) is an urban district in the middle of Allen County comprised of four townships: Washington, St. Joseph, Wayne, and Pleasant. East Allen (EACS) lies east of FWCS and continues to the Ohio border. It is comprised of 11, or over half of the townships in the county. It is the biggest geographic district in the state and includes urban, suburban, and rural schools. Several Amish communities thrive in the rural areas. A large part of the southeast quadrant of Fort Wayne, Adams Township, is one of the 11 townships in 6
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz EACS, thus bringing an urban, and increasingly minority, population into East Allen (See Allen County Townships map in Appendix, p. 24). Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen’s closest neighbor to its west, has been struggling since the 1960s, now successfully, to desegregate its schools, which have a roughly 30 percent minority population (Altevogt & Nusbaumer, 1978; Clark, 2006; Fife, 1997a; Fife, 1997b; The Fort Wayne Urban League, 2003; Martone & Mensing, 2006; Murphey, 2005; Stith, 2006; Quinn, 2006). In EACS the issue of racial balance did not appear until the 1980s and 1990s. Even then, it did not appear in isolation, but as a contextualizing force behind a movement to consolidate schools due to an overall declining school population. As the number of racial minorities has grown at Paul Harding and its feeder schools, and the economic base of East Allen has shifted, race has remained an issue. The EACS community struggles with the realities of economic developments, declining enrollment, a more diverse student population, and the challenge of providing high quality schooling for all of its children. As we were developing this article, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments, on December 6, 2006, that challenge race-based student assignments to achieve racial balance in schools (Burns, 2006, December 4; Savage, 2006, December 5; Stockman, 2006, December 5). The arguments presented interpret the Brown decision in two very diﬀerent ways: 1) one argument speaks against race-based strategies to achieve integration, and 2) the other speaks precisely for race-based policies to achieve integration, since separate facilities were declared “inherently unequal” (Haney-Lopez, 2006, November 3; Liptak, 2006, December 10). Dawn Runger Martz found both of these views expressed historically in the ongoing EACS debate over racial balance. We realize that there is the potential for the Supreme Court to overturn Brown, which could initiate a major rethinking about racial balance and equal opportunity in schools. This anticipated legal decision could return us legally to “separate but equal,” as articulated by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). However, since many who believe in the message of Brown have been disappointed with the results and continual resegregation, this could also force us all to rethink the racial equality equation anew, perhaps with new insights gained from historical studies of Brown’s impact in local communities. Martz, a student in the master’s program in education, researches the birth of Paul Harding High School in 1973, follows school board battles over consolidation and racial balance in the 1980s and early 1990s, and then, ties those developments to the present. In our concluding reﬂections we suggest further areas of research that Martz’s paper invites, and reﬂect on the power of local educational histories for understanding and re-examining the legacies of past educational policies on the present. Both Martz and I are white.1 7
In the Shadow of Brown
In the Shadow of Brown: The History of Paul Harding High School — Dawn Runger Martz The road to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) began shortly after the Civil War ended, when three constitutional amendments and a signiﬁcant civil rights act were passed. In 1865, slavery ended with ratiﬁcation of the Thirteenth Amendment; Southern states immediately enacted Black Codes limiting the rights of the newly freed slaves. Congress responded with the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and ratiﬁcation of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, which declared that no state can take away rights guaranteed to all U.S. citizens. Ratiﬁcation of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 prohibited federal and state governments from removing a citizen’s right to vote because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. In 1876, Jim Crow laws in the South were established making these amendments virtually irrelevant. In 1896, Jim Crow laws became the basis for Plessy v. Ferguson which then became the legal rationale for segregating by race in all institutions, including schools; it supported “separate but equal” facilities for people of diﬀerent races. In 1954 the Supreme Court reversed Plessy v. Ferguson in Brown v. Board by ruling that “separate but equal” is “inherently unequal” (Anand et al., 2002): In the ﬁeld of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiﬀs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. (Brown v. Board, 1954) While the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was landmark in declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, years of struggle followed to implement the ruling. I chose to research the history of Paul Harding High School in the East Allen County Schools (EACS), Allen County, Indiana. The students are predominantly African American, but the students at the other four high schools in the school corporation are predominantly white. In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of Brown, a local newspaper reported on the lack of integration in EACS: Instead of waiting for a lawsuit to force the issue of desegregation, East Allen County Schools leaders took it upon themselves [in 1989] to come up with options to integrate the inner-city black students on the southwest end of the district with the small-town white students in New Haven and the rural, Amish students on the northeast end of the district. …But nearly two decades later, the schools are still not integrated. And a half-century after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separate schools cannot 8
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz be equal, the schools in the Paul Harding High School area are even more racially isolated than they were in 1986 when the issue of integration ﬁrst appeared. (Stockman, 2004, May 16) I wanted to know how that came to be, especially since Brown stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The EACS corporation was established in 1964 as a result of the Indiana General Assembly’s passing of the School Reorganization Act in 1959 which required school consolidation of Indiana’s many small school districts, so that every corporation had an enrollment of at least 1,000 students. By 1968, the number of school corporations in Indiana decreased from 939 to 382 (Reese, 1993). In Allen County, a comprehensive plan was proposed which initiated community-wide negotiations about the future of Allen County’s then 15 school corporations. Originally, it was proposed that the county be divided into three districts: the Allen County School System, Fort Wayne Community Schools, and New Haven Public School System, New Haven being a small city to the east of Fort Wayne (Stath, 1991). In the end, four school corporations were established out of the 15: Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS), Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS), Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS), and East Allen County Schools (EACS or East Allen), which included New Haven. East Allen, geographically the largest of the four corporations, includes 11 of the county’s 20 townships, representing 330 square miles, more than half of the county, within its boundaries (Allen County Genealogical Society, 2004). While originally mostly rural, it now includes rural, suburban, and urban schools. In 1959 before the new school districts were formed, a white administrator, Paul Harding, was at the helm of the New Haven Public Schools; he had the challenge of leading the system through the reorganization of the Allen County school districts. He then became the ﬁrst superintendent of the newly created EACS on June 16, 1964, when the board held its ﬁrst meeting. Four years later on August 7, 1968, Superintendent Harding died in oﬃce. Six months after his death, on February 17, 1969, a unanimous board voted to build a new high school located on Wayne Trace Road, near Fort Wayne’s southeast border. It would be the ﬁfth high school in EACS, and it would be named after Superintendent Paul Harding. On December 7, 1970, the ﬁnal plans for Paul Harding High School were unanimously approved (Minutes EACS School Board: 1959, February 2; 1964, June 16; 1968, August 19; 1969, February 17; 1970, December 7). The doors of the new school opened in 1973. Growing enrollment drove the decision to build the new high school. During the mid-1960s the business growth in southeast Allen County, an area served by EACS, generated substantial tax revenues for the district. This growth in business drove the housing and retail markets in the area and brought a subsequent increase in population. 9
In the Shadow of Brown The school district grew from approximately 9,500 students in 1965 to over 12,000 in 1972. There were at the time four other high schools in EACS, Leo Junior/Senior High School in the suburban north of the district, Heritage Junior/Senior High School and Woodlan Junior/Senior High School in the middle rural areas, and New Haven High School in the city of New Haven. New Haven High School, built in the early 1920s for 1,500 students, had an enrollment in the late 1960s of more than 2,500 students. The question was whether to build an addition onto New Haven High School or construct a new building (Uebelhoer, 2002). After making the decision to build Paul Harding High School, the school board appointed Michael Bonahoom, the white assistant principal at New Haven High School, to develop the curriculum and structure for the new high school. Bonahoom studied the research and teaching of J. Lloyd Trump, also white, who had a vision of individualized learning where students determined their own pace and progress. Bonahoom’s desire was to build the new high school with an individualized system of education, which would include resource centers by subject area — math, science, English, and technology — with smaller classrooms surrounding each resource center. The smaller classroom would be used for teaching speciﬁc subjects with individualized learning taking place in the adjoining resource center. Walls could be moved as teachers, aides, and students developed ideas and needs. Paul Harding High School was the ﬁrst individualized concept school built in the Midwest (Uebelhoer, 2002). When Paul Harding High School opened its doors on August 29, 1973, the enrollment was 1,057 for grades 9, 10, and 11 (EACS, 1974). The student body at Paul Harding High School was predominately white and upper middle class; estimates suggested that “82.6 percent of this student population would attend Harding for their entire high school career” (EACS, 1976). In 1978, ﬁve years later, the North Central Visitation Summary Report outlined the strengths and weaknesses of Paul Harding High School during its ﬁrst ﬁve years. The strengths included a well-qualiﬁed and experienced staﬀ, a welcoming building, a variety of course oﬀerings, involvement of parents and the community, an active student congress, good teacher-student relationships, and well-equipped classrooms. The challenges were mostly related to the structural design of the building and the ﬁscal issues created by that design. Challenges included class size; discipline, due to the openness of the building; lack of adequate personnel to monitor the individualized education program; lack of state and district funding for continued innovation; busing expenses being paid with salary and special program funds; and an inconsistent heating and air-conditioning system. The report indicated the majority of the students were not disciplined enough to handle the responsibility of an individualized education program. Overall, it appeared the open concept design was not eﬀective and the school was 10
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz transitioning to a more traditional pattern of teaching and study. The major problems with this transition were the structural changes it required and the funding needed to make the necessary changes (EACS, 1979). Thus, Paul Harding High School opened with an innovative pedagogy and building design; its students came from fairly aﬄuent white families. The corporation couldn’t sustain the innovation economically, and many students did not adjust to the lack of structure the open concept approach oﬀered them. In 1981 International Harvester, a major employer located on the east side of Fort Wayne, near New Haven and the EACS school district, closed with a loss of thousands of jobs. This loss impacted all of Allen County, but particularly the Paul Harding attendance area in East Allen County Schools, the area physically closest to the closed plant. The area began to lose population and tax revenue; those who stayed or moved in were far less prosperous than those moving out. The population became more transient, and the number of minorities rose. School enrollment in all EACS schools began to fall. In 1982 Michael Benway became the superintendent. Benway understood how the then-current changes in population, enrollment, and revenue would impact the district. Although he is white, he was particularly concerned with the issue of racial balance. In February 1989, Benway, in conjunction with consultants hired by the school board and district staﬀ, prepared a report entitled Focus on the future: Options today for continued excellence tomorrow. The report documented East Allen County Schools’ peak enrollment of 12,518 students in the 1973–1974 school year, the year Paul Harding High School opened, and indicated that district enrollments had declined each year since with one exception in 1986–1987 (EACS, 1989). This trend was also evident at Paul Harding High School with enrollment declining to 906 students in grades 10 through 12 in the 1983–1984 school year (EACS, 1984). These changes in enrollment, along with predictions from the consultants hired to study the district, resulted in the development of recommendations in the report for reorganization of the schools in EACS. Focus on the Future provided several options for reorganization of the district’s student population and the closing of school buildings to address the implications that the declining enrollment would have on district ﬁnances (EACS, 1989). Through consolidation and reorganization of the schools, racial balance could also be achieved. Between the issuing of the report in February 1989 and the school board’s vote on its recommendations in February 1990, the community’s divided opinion over consolidation and desegregation erupted. On Tuesday, February 20, 1990, the East Allen County School Board voted 4-to-3 “to approve plans to consolidate ﬁve high schools into three and convert to a system of middle schools for sixth- through eighthgraders.” Minutes after the meeting, while police waited for outbreaks of violence, parents indicated they would make sure that new board members, who would overrule the decision to consolidate, would be voted into oﬃce in May. The plan approved by 11
In the Shadow of Brown the board allowed for a “two-year window of opportunity” for declining enrollment and increases in the minority population to reverse (Von Frank, 1990, February 21). This battle, which on the surface appeared to be mainly about reorganization through consolidation, was also about race. East Allen County Schools received national attention when David Maraniss, a white reporter for The Washington Post, wrote the ﬁrst of ﬁve stories covering the controversy (1990, March 4). Maraniss, who was investigating the interracial dynamics in public schools and other key institutions in American life, studied the struggle in East Allen County Schools. His article’s major points focus on Superintendent Benway, the reorganization proposal, and the board vote: When Mike Benway became superintendent of schools in Allen County eight years ago, he told the board of education that the number one problem he hoped to resolve was the system’s racial imbalance. He came closer to reaching the goal than many people expected, but not as close as he hoped. And soon he will be departing, leaving behind a ﬁve-year contract, a ﬁle of hate mail and a telephone that buzzed with racist insults. (Maraniss, 1990, March 4, p. A1) Maraniss notes that the East Allen situation, as in other communities across the United States, “revealed both the promise and the failure of public school integration in the United States.” Maraniss links the developments in EACS to the Brown decision: It has been 36 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the seminal school desegregation case in American history. More constitutional law, blood, sweat, time, money, research and political eﬀort have been expended over the issue of race in public schools than in any other major institution in American society. This was the arena that was thought to be the nation’s major success story, but in many ways the frustrations of Superintendent Benway in northeastern Indiana are representative of larger failings in the north and south. (Maraniss, 1990, March 4, A22) Consolidation and racial balance were both parts of the reorganization plan that the school board put forward: The concept [consolidation] was incorporated into proposals to close two underpopulated rural high schools [Heritage Senior High School and Woodlan Senior High School] and a physically deteriorating predominantly black grade school, and redraw boundaries so that 10 of the district’s 15 schools would have populations that would be 15 to 25 percent black….The issue of racial balance and equity was juxtaposed against the desire of predominately white communities to retain their 12
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz local schools. The pressure on the seven-member school board to back away from change was intense….In an eﬀort to ﬁnd common ground between those pushing for reorganization and racial balance and those seeking to preserve old schools and ancient boundaries, the school board brought in an outside mediator. (Maraniss, 1990, March 4, A22) There was peace for a while, but when the mediator left the “polarization became stronger than ever” (Maraniss, 1990, March 4): The climactic moment occurred on the night late last month when the board ﬁnally gathered to vote on a racial balance plan. It was a compromise proposal that would not take eﬀect for two years, and then only based on trigger mechanisms of declining enrollment in the rural white schools and enrollment increases in the minority schools. Benway and [Mary] Barksdale [the only black school board member, who worked closely with Benway] thought it was the best they could get. They were unsure about the vote. It appeared that three board members supported it and three were opposed. The swing vote was Steve Stieglitz, 29, a soybean farmer who graduated from the one of the rural white schools slated for closing and whose family had tilled the soil here for generations. When his “aye” vote resounded through the auditorium, there was a clamor. “We’ve got to take Stieglitz out!” a woman in the back yelled to her compatriots...After a few black citizens shook his hand and thanked him, the young farmer found himself engulfed by the hostile crowd, “Traitor!” someone yelled. “How could you?” yelled another. (Maraniss, 1990, March 4, A22) In May 1990, the sentiments of the woman who yelled, “We’ve got to take Stieglitz out,” were supported by voters who felt the same way. Stieglitz ran for re-election, but was soundly defeated and replaced by a person who did not favor consolidation or reorganization (Von Frank, 1990, May 9). Thus the 4-3 balance in favor of consolidation and reorganization was reversed, 3-4. In the EACS School Board election in May 1992, the ouster continued. One of the three board members, John Glass, who had supported reorganization, chose not to run for re-election. The two remaining supporters of reorganization, Mary Barksdale and Kay Meyer, lost their bids for re-election; thus, all the supporters of the reorganization plan were oﬀ the board (Von Frank, 1992, May 6; Creek, 1992, May 6). The election results show that Barksdale and Meyer actually received the majority of votes in the area they represented, District 5, which included the Paul Harding and New Haven High School attendance areas. Their opponents, Connie Heckler and Steve Gordon, both white, who 13
In the Shadow of Brown had opposed the reorganization plan, won in Districts 2, 3, and 4 by 4-to-1 margins, areas that included Woodlan and Heritage High Schools — the two high schools that would have been closed if the reorganization had been implemented. EACS includes ﬁve districts, each district with one representative, except District 5 which has two because of greater population; one at-large member is also elected. All voters, however, vote on all candidates (“EACS Voters,” 1992, June 23). Gordon, who for two years had participated in a group that actively opposed reorganization, was quoted as saying that the voters did not want to be forced to do something they didn’t want to do, i.e., have children bused out of their neighborhoods: “They realize that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. …There’s been too much talk of closing schools as the only viable alternative.” He went on to say that “New ideas, educational reform…it’s too dangerous. Most people want to stay with the style of education that has worked for so long” (Dooley & French, 1992, May 6). The need for East Allen County Schools to address declining enrollments and reorganization was due, in large part, to the change in the economic base in Allen County. In September 2000, a report published by the Community Research Institute of Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne detailed the economic performance of northeast Indiana’s nine counties — Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley — from 1970 to 2000 and documented the reasons for that performance. During the years 1979–1982, the economic stress in northeast Indiana was, in large part, due to the closing of International Harvester and the almost immediate loss of 10,000 relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs. The loss of Harvester impacted the tax base in Allen County, and in particular, East Allen County Schools. It also created a void in the job market for non-college-degreed students (Guthrie & Richardson, 2000). As Allen County began to rebuild itself economically, there was a focus on recruiting a broader business base, and that would require a highly skilled available workforce because Allen County — the core county — provides many services — e.g., medical and legal — to the outlying counties. Allen County has approximately twice the percentage of its jobs in services as do the remaining eight counties. Also, it has a markedly higher percentage of jobs in wholesale trade, ﬁnance, insurance and real estate, and transportation, communication and public utilities. (Guthrie & Richardson, 2000, p. 3) Although Allen County was successful in building a broader economic base, the “growth in manufacturing employment in northeast Indiana since 1979 occurred 14
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz solely outside Allen County — manufacturing employment in Allen County actually decreased…” (Guthrie & Richardon, 2000, p. 2). If the economic base depends on production tasks that require workers to have few skills, then employment is not always dependent on education, but high performance ﬁrms demand workers with signiﬁcant and sophisticated social and intellectual skills (p. 69). When a community moves from opportunities for employment in agriculture, to opportunities for non-college educated workers in manufacturing, to a demand for workers that can translate information and knowledge into productivity, then workers possessing high-level skills are needed. (Payne, 2003, December 12). Thus, EACS had the challenge of preparing students to work in the disappearing rural, disappearing industrial, emerging high-tech economy. Demographic data from the townships in EACS give further perspective on the community that the Paul Harding attendance area serves. In 1960, the population of Adams Township (EACS) was 18,428 and by 1970 it had increased to 31,034, which is one of the reasons school enrollment increased and made it necessary to build Paul Harding High School. Between 1970 and 2000 the population only grew by 371 people. It is important to note that ﬁve of Allen County’s 20 townships — Aboite (SACS), Adams (EACS), St. Joseph (FWCS), Wayne (FWCS), and Washington (FWCS) — had 82 percent of the population (See Appendix, p. 24). The 2000 census data indicates that 74.4 percent of the black population lived in 17 census tracts where the population was, and is, at least 30 percent black. Additionally, 86 percent of Allen County’s black population lives in the census tracts located in Adams (EACS) and Wayne (FWCS) Townships. The census data further reveals that this has been true only for Adams and Wayne Townships since 1990. One population trend identiﬁed in the 2000 census shows the increase in the non-white population from 7.3 percent in 1970 to 16.9 percent in 2000. The non-white population is substantially younger than the white population and birthrates are higher, thus the future impact on school enrollment would be greater (Guthrie & Richardson, 2003). Although the population has remained stable in Adams Township, the people living in the township have become more impoverished. The overall poverty rate in Allen County is 9.1 percent, but the poverty rates in Adams and Wayne Townships range from 17.9 percent to 51 percent. The elderly population living in poverty primarily resides outside of Adams and Wayne Townships while children in poverty reside primarily in Adams and Wayne Townships. As Adams Township became predominately black, the middle and upper-middle class whites moved to homes in other parts of Allen County (Guthrie & Richardson, 2003). In 1980–1985, Paul Harding High School’s minority enrollment was 24 percent. That enrollment reached 79 percent in 1995–2000 and is 80.6 percent today. The changes in enrollment have resulted in de facto racial segregation in the school, segregation perpetuated by changing residential housing patterns, which have been driven by economic developments. The dramatic closing more than 25 years 15
In the Shadow of Brown ago of a major manufacturing industry, International Harvester, became a harbinger of an emerging pattern of deindustrialization throughout the county, and the country, a development that continues at an even more rapid pace today (Cochren, 2000; Guthrie & Richardson, 2003). The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) data show East Allen for the past 10 years, 1996/1997–2006/2007, becoming slightly more black, from 16.5 to 17.5 percent, and slightly less white, from 80.8 to 73.5 percent, with a small but growing Hispanic population, from 1.5 to 4.0 percent (IDOE, 2006a). Statistics for Paul Harding High School during the same years show a starkly diﬀerent racial balance than the school corporation as a whole, with the school becoming 14 percent more black, from 64.3 to 80.6 percent, and 21 percent less white, from 31.1 to 9.9 percent (IDOE, 2006b). During those same years the free and reduced lunch statistics, a barometer of poverty, increased markedly at Paul Harding. In 10 years the percent of students paying for lunch has been cut in half, from 75.8 to 37.1 percent; the number of those receiving free and reduced lunch has more than doubled, from 24.2 to 63 percent (IDOE, 2006c). Tentative enrollment data at Paul Harding for the 2006–2007 school year is 588 students in a school that once held more than 1,000. Paul Harding’s current and ﬁrst African American principal, Neal Brown, has served the school corporation in various positions since 1981. He has been principal at Paul Harding since 1997 and has enabled it to endure. He is in a position to provide vision and wisdom to the youth at Harding, oﬀering opportunities for them to succeed both academically and personally. In May 1999, the Eﬀective Schools Climate Survey: Paul Harding High School was completed by Paul Harding faculty and students. Faculty reported that high expectations for success were communicated to staﬀ, programs in the school enhanced learning, discipline problems were handled by the school’s administration, teachers were satisﬁed with the school, and sources for professional development were available. Students believed school work was challenging and required “best eﬀort,” teachers asked questions to make sure materials were understood, and teachers held high expectations for student learning (1999, May). One hundred percent of the faculty and 75 percent of the students completed the surveys. Today, Paul Harding High School oﬀers a comprehensive four-year program with advanced and honors courses in English, math, foreign language, social studies, and science. In addition, academic classes in business, vocational technology, and general studies are available for students. Harding is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and is designated as a First Class School by the Indiana Department of Public Instruction (Brown, 2003). Thus, in spite of Paul Harding’s declining enrollment, increasing impoverishment, and growing racial imbalance relative to the school corporation, its principal, faculty, and students view 16
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz it as a success and are very proud of its eﬀorts and accomplishments. That positive, hopeful environment, however, has not protected Paul Harding from having to struggle academically. While its scores on the state’s ISTEP+ test improved in 2003–2005, in the last round of state testing in 2006 it fell behind to its lowest level in 10 years. The EACS administration is hoping this is an anomaly and has promised full support to get the scores back in the acceptable range by working collaboratively with all schools in the Paul Harding attendance area, as well as with parents. (Stockman, 2006, December 22). In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that school segregation was unequal and a violation of rights. Brown explicitly states that “‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Paul Harding High School’s complex history shows a school that was built to meet expanding enrollment in EACS, but since then has faced declining enrollment, as has the whole school corporation. The racial and economic proﬁle of its students has also dramatically changed. Paul Harding originally served a predominantly white, middle class population. As the economic situation in Allen County changed, Paul Harding High School eventually began to serve a predominantly black, non-middle class population. The corporation tried unsuccessfully in the early 1990s both to consolidate and racially balance its schools. A complex mix of social class, race, and tradition stymied change and, in fact, seems to have reinforced continued and even accelerated separateness by class and race. In the end, the history of Paul Harding High School reﬂects the vicissitudes of a community impacted by economic and demographic change beyond its control, and that has led to challenges it has yet to resolve.
Reflections on the Shadow of Brown — Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz In the shadow of Brown, Paul Harding High School is striving to carve out its own place, irrespective of statistics that show racial imbalance relative to the East Allen County Schools corporation. A de-industrializing economy has impacted all of Allen County and has had ramiﬁcations for the demographic and economic growth of all of its school corporations. Economic developments have triggered population migration within the county, which has redistributed wealth and school enrollment among the school corporations. Racial divisions have been closely tied to those developments, as have social class divisions (IDOE, 2007). Paul Harding High School’s attendance area, which serves an urban community, is located in a school corporation that is not primarily urban. East Allen is comprised of contiguous urban, rural, and suburban communities. Most recent historical studies of desegregation, noted earlier, have focused on urban areas that have undergone decades of struggle to work toward racial balance. The unit of study is the urban school corporation. Some recent studies critiquing urban school reform analyze the relationship between 17
In the Shadow of Brown race and class within the context of the United States’s changing, deindustrializing economy (Lipman, 2004). While the economic context is national, as well as global, and the deﬁnition of inequities has broadened, an urban center is still the focus of study. Additionally, scholars who have traditionally been interested most in race and gender, are now looking more seriously at the intersections of race and gender with class, as bell hooks does in where we stand: class matters (2000). Here, too, the context in which race is discussed is broadening. Since the 1960s educators have tended to see urban education as in need of intense study, however, a deindustrializing economy, an increasingly impoverished school population, and declining school enrollment challenge any school corporation, even if it isn’t primarily urban. Thus, East Allen’s concerns with consolidation and racial balance are similar to those an urban corporation faces. The issues may appear more extreme to the EACS community, because of perceived rural/ urban cultural diﬀerences, but they are less visible to the outside world, precisely because EACS is not a large urban metropolis. We’re all living in the shadow of Brown, yet racial, demographic, and housing patterns have been shifting to such an extent that we wonder if Brown will ever have the power that its supporters and advocates have hoped for, or if schools like Paul Harding will be called upon to redeﬁne new ways to live successfully with an identity that is explicitly and proudly race conscious and separate. Perhaps the Supreme Court decision expected in spring 2007 will lift the shadow of Brown and reconﬁgure the discussion, as well as the policy, on what is “inherently unequal.” We both grew up in the shadow of Brown, believing in its assertion that “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This study, however, shows us that many other factors that foster racial segregation in schools are also “inherently unequal.” The distribution and redistribution of wealth, jobs, and quality housing operate independently of school corporations and do not respect borders between them. A school corporation is, however, challenged with responding to the redistribution. We conclude that inequity in all of its community forms needs to be studied historically, and the forces that drive those inequities need to be analyzed, so they can be addressed. Martz’s class project, which became for us a scholarly partnership, demonstrates the power of studying local educational history. In 1954 Brown became the clarion call for righting inequalities by race. In the 1960s other social movements built on Brown, which was rooted in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1981, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Terrence H. Bell, created the National Commission on Excellence in Education which wrote A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform (1983). It signaled a new era in education with concern for higher academic standards and assessment of learning outcomes, not the equity of access and opportunity that Brown had championed for three decades, but excellence in academic achievement for all students. Superintendent Benway in East 18
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz Allen cited the importance of A nation at risk in his report, Focus on the future: Options today for continued excellence tomorrow (EACS, 1989). The excellence, assessment, and standards movements culminated philosophically and politically in the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, which requires yearly testing of K–12 students at various grade levels, with tough sanctions for those schools whose students do not make progress. These movements have reframed the debates about equity and, to a great extent, have muted the discussion about race and class, except as it relates to academic achievement. Focused historical studies of communities can document and connect the various data about race, class, political and economic developments, and achievement, as they intersect in changing conﬁgurations over time. Historical studies can reach beyond the geographic boundaries of a school corporation; they can also make visible the impact of individuals and ideas within the social, cultural, economic, and political constraints that frame historical options. Such studies help us assess the strengths and limitations of school policies, like those developed in response to Brown. As researchers we see the limits of our own views, as we learn from evidence of the past. With gained understanding and historical perspective, we are in a better position to construct new policies to address age-old educational equity dilemmas. We see both interpretations of Brown that were recently argued before the Supreme Court — both the colorblind and the color-conscious interpretations — as roughly those espoused by the opponents and supporters, respectively, of desegregation in EACS in the 1980s and early 1990s. The issues before the Supreme Court mirror the positions that the East Allen community has long struggled over, which perhaps demonstrates the extent to which East Allen’s struggles are echoed throughout the country. In East Allen some people, both black and white, agree with the major tenant of Brown that “‘separate but equal’ has no place,” while others, both black and white, disagree. Perspectives are complex and reﬂect diﬀerent experiences and histories, not necessarily deﬁned by race. Through democratic governance procedures, the EACS community elected school board members in 1992 who reﬂected the majority view at the time, which favored no reorganization, in spite of the school corporation’s shifting economic and demographic proﬁle. The history of Paul Harding High School reveals to us a quarter century of ongoing change, as its school population has dwindled and a traditional pedagogy has replaced a progressive one, an urban school population has replaced a rural one, a minority school population has replaced a majority one, and a non-middle class population has replaced a middle class one. Striving for success — by the principal, teachers, staﬀ, and students — has, however, not been replaced. East Allen, and all of us, still stand in the shadow of Brown. Even if its shadow is lifted, we still face the issue of equity in educational opportunity by race. We need richly textured histories to understand the complexity of our seemingly conﬂicting views, which are 19
In the Shadow of Brown inseparably embedded in the economic, political, and social fabric of our communities. We need to examine and analyze that history, as we seek to understand how it can constrain, or unleash, imaginative educational policies that deal boldly and courageously with race and equity issues. History, like a magnifying glass that the past puts up to the present, helps us to understand today’s complex realities, so we can, then, build educational policies that prepare all children well for a better, more socially just future.
To tell this story most eﬀectively, we have chosen to identify the race of all persons identiﬁed by name, including ourselves. This helps underscore our point that people’s interpretations of the Brown decision vary, whatever their race. Also, we want you to know that our own perspectives are not neutral. We came to this research with our own assumptions, which reﬂect our own histories. It is our hope that this study opens up new ways of thinking for us and our readers about race and equity issues.
References Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana. (2004). Allen County Township Map. Allen County Indiana GenWeb Project: Townships. Retrieved March 5, 2004, from http:// users.rootsweb.com/~inallen/townships.html. Allen County Township Map. Retrieved November 26, 2006, from http://www.stats.indiana.edu/ maptools/maps/boundary/townships_2000/allen_township.gif. Altenbaugh, R. J. (2004). Liberation and frustration: Fifty years after Brown. History of Education Quarterly, 44(1), 1-9. Altevogt, B. A., & Nusbaumer, M. R. (1978, July-August). Black parents and desegregation in Fort Wayne. Integrated Education, 16(4), 31-34. Anand, B., Fine, M., Perkins, T., Surrey, D. S., & the Renaissance School Class of 2000. (2002). Keeping the struggle alive: Studying desegregation in our town: A guide to doing oral history. New York: Teachers College Press. Anderson, S. L., Attwood, P. F., & Howard, L. C. (Eds.). (2004). Facing racism in education. 3rd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing Group. Beatty, J. D. (Ed.). (2006). History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700–2005, Vol. 1. Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Bell, D. (2004). Silent covenants, Brown v. Board of Education and the unfulﬁlled hopes for racial reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Boger, J. C., & Orﬁeld, G. (Eds.). (2005). School resegregation: Must the South turn back? Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. Brown, N. (2003). Transition Plan 2003–2004, Paul Harding High School. East Allen County Schools. New Haven, IN. Brown v. Board of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Burns, R. (2006, December 4). High court weighs race in schools, “Color-coded’ admission at issue. The Washington Post, reprinted in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, pp. A1, A6. Carter, D. J., Flores, S. M., & Reddick, R. J. (Eds.). (2004). Legacies of Brown, Multiracial equity in American education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing Group.
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz Clark, W. S. (2006). Race relations in the twentieth century: Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana. In J. D. Beatty. (Ed.), History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 17002005, Vol. 1 (pp. 642-651). Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Clotfelter, C. T. (2004). After Brown, The rise and retreat of school desegregation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Cochren, C. R. (2000). Minority student distribution: An historical case study of the East Allen County School Corporation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana State University, Terre Haute. Cottrol, R. J., Diamond, R. T., & Ware, L. B. (2003). Brown v. Board of Education, caste, culture, and the constitution. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. Creek, J. (1992, May 6). EACS voters toss incumbents. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, p. A4. Dooley, M., & French, R. (1992, May 6). Housecleaning ends in East Allen. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Retrieved December 18, 2006, from http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/ fortwayne/9201050203.htm. Dougherty, J. (2004). More than one struggle, The evolution of black school reform in Milwaukee. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. EACS voters protest election format. (1992, June 23). The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Retrieved December 18, 2006, from http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/9206230084.htm. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1959-1970). Minutes School Board, East Allen County Schools (1959, February 2; 1964, June 16; 1968, August 19; 1969, February 17; 1970, December 7). New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1974). Annual Report: Paul Harding High School. New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1976). School and Community Report: Paul Harding High School. New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1979). Summary Report: Paul Harding High School. New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1984). Secondary School Annual Report: Paul Harding High School. New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1989, February). Focus on the future: Options today for continued excellence tomorrow. New Haven, IN. East Allen County Schools (EACS). (1999). Eﬀective Schools Climate Survey: Paul Harding High School. New Haven, IN. Fife, B. L. (1997a). Eﬀective school desegregation in a changing world. International Journal of Educational Reform, 6(4), 455-463. Fife, B. L. (1997b). School desegregation in the twenty-ﬁrst century, The focus must change. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press. Formisano, R. P. (c1991, 2004 Epilogue). Boston against busing, Race, class, and ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. The Fort Wayne Urban League. (1964). The report of a study of the socio-economic circumstances of Negroes in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1963. Fort Wayne, IN: Richard Sommerfeld Associates. The Fort Wayne Urban League. (2003). The state of Black Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne, IN: The Fort Wayne Urban League. Guthrie, T. L., & Richardson, V. A. (2003). A demographic proﬁle of Allen County, Indiana. Community Research Institute, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.
In the Shadow of Brown Guthrie, T. L., & Richardson, V. A. (2000). The performance of the northeast Indiana economy over the past 30 years, The major forces shaping that performance, And some thoughts on appropriate economic policy to enhance future performance. Community Research Institute, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne. Haney-Lopez, I. F. (2006, November 3). Colorblind to the reality of race in America. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(11), pp. B6-B9. Heaney, G. W., & Uchitelle, S. (2004). Unending struggle: The long road to an equal education in St. Louis. St. Louis: Reedy Press. hooks, b. (2000). where we stand: class matters. NY: Routledge. Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). (2006a). Indiana Department of Education School Statistics. Retrieved December 3, 2006, from http://mustang.doe.state.in.us/TRENDS/ enr_time.cfm?schl=&corp=0255. Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). (2006b). Indiana Department of Education School Statistics. Retrieved December 3, 2006, from http://mustang.doe.state.in.us/TRENDS/ enr_time.cfm?schl=0279&corp=. Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). (2006c). Indiana Department of Education School Statistics. Retrieved December 3, 2006, from http://mustang.doe.state.in.us/TRENDS/ ﬂunch_time.cfm?schl=0279&corp=. Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). (2007). Indiana Department of Education School Statistics for Allen County. Retrieved January 4, 2007, from http://mustang.doe.state. in.us/SEARCH/s3.cfm?county=02. Ladson-Billings, G. (2004, October) Landing on the wrong note: The price we paid for Brown. Educational Researcher, 33(7), 3-13. Liptak, A. (2006, December 10). Brown v. Board of Education, Second round. The New York Times, pp. WK2-3. Lipman, P. (2004). High stakes education: Inequality, globalization, and urban school reform. NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Martone, P., & Mensing, L. (Section Eds.). (2006). School organizations & institutions. In P. Robb (Ed.), History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700–2005, Vol. 2 (pp. 317340). Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Maraniss, D. (1990, March 4). Integration: Its promise and failings — after ﬁghting for balance, superintendent moves on. The Washington Post, pp. A1, A22. Morris, V. G., & Morris, C. L. (2002). The price they paid: Desegregation in an African American community. NY: Teacher College Press. Murphey, K. A. (2005, October). Seeking legacies, Searching memories: Desegregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the History of Education Society, Baltimore, MD, October 20-23. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. US Public Law 107-110. 107th Congr., 1st sess., 8 January 2002. Orﬁeld, G., & Eaton, S. E. (1996). Dismantling desegregation: The quiet reversal of Brown v. Board of Education. NY: New Press. Patterson, J. T. (2001). Brown v. Board of Education: A civil rights milestone and its troubled legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Payne, R. K. (2003, December 12). Where do we go from here? How do communities develop intellectual capital and sustainability? Paper presented at Foellinger Foundation Workshop, Fort Wayne, IN. Perlstein, D. H. (2004a). Justice, justice: School politics and the eclipse of liberalism. NY: Peter Lang.
Kathleen A. Murphey & Dawn Runger Martz Perlstein, D. H. (2004b). A kernel of hope: Educational leadership and racial justice. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 19(4), 288-309. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). Quinn, A. M. (2006). History of African-Americans in Fort Wayne to 1870. In J. D. Beatty (Ed.), History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700–2005, Vol. 1 (pp. 606-615). Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Reese, W. J. (1993). Indiana’s public school traditions: Dominant themes and research opportunities. Indiana Magazine of History, 40(4), 289-334. Robb, P. (Ed.). (2006). History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700–2005, Vol. 2. Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Stath, M. (1991). The history of the reorganization of East Allen County Schools. Unpublished manuscript, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne. Savage, D. G. (2006, December 5). Justices criticize race guidelines in schools. Los Angeles Times, reprinted in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, pp. A1, A6. Smith, S. S. (2004). Boom for whom? Education, desegregation, and development in Charlotte. Albany: State University of New York Press. Stith, H. (2006). Illuminating an ignored legacy: The African-American history of Fort Wayne. In J. D. Beatty (Ed.), History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700–2005, Vol. 1 (pp. 617-638). Evansville, IN: M. T. Publishing Company, Inc. Stockman, K. J. (2004, May 16). EACS still struggling with integration. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, p. A6. Stockman, K. J. (2006, December 5). FWCS equality plan threatened, Decision next summer by high court could alter means of desegregation. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, pp. A1, A6. Stockman, K. J. (2006, December 22). Harding’s passing rates fall to lowest in 10 years. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Retrieved December 22, 2006, from http://www.fortwayne.com/ mld/fortwayne/16298160.htm. Uebelhoer, J. (2002). The rise and fall of individualized education at Paul Harding High School. Unpublished manuscript, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne. United States. National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform: A report to the nation and the Secretary of Education, United States Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Commission of Excellence in Education: [Supt. Of Docs., U.S. G.P.O. distributor]. Von Frank, V. (1990, February 21). EACS approves consolidation. The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Von Frank, V. (1990, May 9). EACS consolidation backer ousted. The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, pp. A1, A13. Von Frank, V. (1992, May 6). Voters oust school board incumbents. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, p. A4.
In the Shadow of Brown
Southwest Allen County Schools: Aboite and Lafayette Townships Northwest Allen County Schools: Lake, Eel River, and Perry Townships Fort Wayne Community Schools: Washington, St. Joseph, Wayne, and Pleasant Townships East Allen County Schools: Cedar Creek, Springﬁeld, Scipio, Maumee, Milan, Jackson, Jeﬀerson, Adams, Marion, Madison, and Monroe Townships
Little Things That Made a Big Difference: Trust and Empathy on the Path to Multiculturalism Barbara Korth, Indiana University, Yoko Martin, Unityville (pseudonym) Consolidated School Corporation and Indiana University, & Naomi Sotoo, Indiana University
Abstract This paper reports on the collaborative IU-Unityville Outreach project aimed at creating a positive learning environment for recently arriving English Language Learners. The ﬁndings of this paper focus on little things that resulted in positive diﬀerences at one American high school in the Midwest. Speciﬁcally, the authors discuss school-based needs for trust and empathy along with activities aimed at increasing these.
Introduction In fall 2002, Unityville Schools contacted Barbara Korth with a problem. The problem was this: There was an increase in the number of non-English–speaking transnational, immigrant, and migrant students in the district, and local educators were unprepared. A small number of faculty in the district approached Korth with the hope that she would be able to “ﬁx” the students. Notice the disjuncture between these two diﬀerent characterizations of the problem (local educators unprepared and students needing to be ﬁxed). Our1 IU-Unityville Outreach project emerged from this initial request for assistance despite divergent conceptualizations of the problem. IU members felt the highest level of simpatíco with those teachers who sought professional growth, though it was easy for all of us to empathize with the frustrations teachers expressed when their successful practices turned into failure with ENL students. Through collaborative means and integrated purposes, Unityville personnel (like Yoko Martin), a team of university students (like Naomi Sotoo), and Barbara Korth (IU faculty) began a critical project aimed at creating a multicultural school corporation for whom the beneﬁts of a transnational student community were educationally mined. 25
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence It was our hope that new possibilities could replace old problems (Freire, 1974). The project consisted of research eﬀorts, program development, support services for students, and training for teachers. We describe one very small but signiﬁcant part of the overall project — the way small, somewhat ordinary, eﬀorts have marked progress toward the project’s goals. The little things we did together seemed to bring about some of this undoing of patterns that contributed to the problems. This was not a singular, uncomplicated process, but rather a series of contentious and diﬃcult moments stitched together through tenuous sets of possibilities, intentions, frustrations, ethics, legal impositions, hopes, and fears. We decided to write on the little things that have made a big diﬀerence at Unityville’s high school because we want to honor the partial outcomes of a diﬃcult and rewarding process. Also, by sharing these small eﬀorts we hope to document the possibility of making advances in a situation that has seemed too overwhelming to tackle. The changes we describe here are uneven and do not reﬂect agreement at the site, but instead expose work at the intersection of education and diﬀerence. In this paper, we reﬂect speciﬁcally on changes related to (1) establishing trust and (2) developing empathy. But what can we learn from looking closely at one school in one district? A new report indicated that from 1990 to 2005, there was an increase of 150 percent in the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) attending U.S. schools (Waters, 2007). Indiana was recently named one of the nation’s “new Growth states” (Capps, Passel, & Fix, 2003). When we examine these numbers (more than 5 million total in schools now nationwide) in light of the pressures of No Child Left Behind, we ﬁnd many schools in the situation that Unityville found itself. Even states with longer histories of a more international school population, like California, have reported that teachers are underprepared and under-skilled for meeting the needs of ELLs (Jacobson, 2006). Why should we look at the three domains of change (trust, empathy, and expectations)? These priorities deﬁnitely reﬂect the needs and priorities of the site. That is, these are the three areas that we experienced as most pressing and that garnered the greatest motivation for those of us working on the project. These needs, however, are not peculiar to Unityville. Numerous studies have demonstrated the educational value of caring in schools (Valenzuela, 1999; Noddings, 1992). The language terrain itself is so complicated that extra measures of trust and empathy are required while at the same time being compromised by language diﬀerence. A quick look at classroom interactions demonstrates this. Active verbal classroom participation is highly valued in American education. Students who do not speak out in class are devalued and penalized by teachers (Vandrick, 2000). Many ethnic and language minority students who felt pressured to participate in the classroom failed to do so and then felt upset, embarrassed, and ashamed. ELL students reported (a) feeling 26
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo insecure about their ability to express themselves clearly in English and (b) feeling afraid of making mistakes or not being understood (Woodrow, 2006). Some of these minority students come from cultures in which the educational traditions are diﬀerent, and in which students are required to listen respectfully to the professor rather than speaking out (Vandrick, 2000). Accordingly, some ELL students interpreted their own verbal participation in the classroom as disrespectful misbehavior. Studies revealed that ethnic and language minority students felt isolated and excluded from the daily life of their peers because they did not understand what was taught and because they were not able to participate in class discussions (Shaw, 1994). Their feelings of discouragement had deleterious eﬀects on their performance in school. The evidence suggested that if trust and empathy contributed to positive educational experiences for all children, then an extra dose was both required and put at risk with language-minority children. More research is deﬁnitely warranted. In the next section of the paper, we provide a description of site and the methods. That section is followed by the lengthiest section of the paper, Relevant Literature and Findings, which is organized according to these three main categories of change. Each subsection introduces relevant literature and describes relevant ﬁndings. This is an unusual way to report on research, but we wanted to ﬁnd a way to keep the ﬁndings in close proximity to the scholarly literature because this was a better reﬂection of our experience.
Newcomers in Our Midst: Site Description and Methods Unityville is the site for a consolidated school corporation in the Midwest. Certainly, by the accounts of people who preceded this recent infusion of newcomers, Unityville was thought of as monocultural. Even the few African Americans who lived in the area were described by white people as “practically white.” People of the town and in the schools also thought of Unityville as monolingual. Once newcomer students started arriving at schools in the corporation, principals began practicing an English-only policy. This policy supported an unquestioned set of beliefs about monolingualism, language learning, and the function of schools. Few school employees throughout the corporation were recognized as proﬁcient in any language other than English, and few claimed any cross-cultural expertise. Actually, as the project progressed, we discovered that these assumptions stiﬂed the use of Spanish and Japanese amongst Euro-American students and teachers who had taken several years of languages in school. Moreover, the assumption of monoculturalism was so deeply embedded in the stories Unityville folks told themselves that valuing monoculturalism formed a “legitimate” rationale for strong insider/outsider dynamics. For example, white folks often bragged to interviewers that their European ancestors had to give up their languages and cultures to become Americans and if these newcomers did not want to do likewise, they should return to their homelands. 27
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence The IU-Unityville Outreach project worked through an integration of inquiry and service/program implementation. Three years’ worth of observation notes, tape recordings, interviews, and focus groups have produced a corpus of data about the change process and everyday experiences of schooling including contestations, needs, hopes, and tensions. The data were naturalistically obtained through everyday educational activities, project strategies, and program implementation collaboratively obtained with both Indiana University and Unityville community members. These activities were responses to locally identiﬁed problems and involved a cadre of people interested in promoting the well-being of newcomer students disadvantaged in the schools through myriad of policies, practices, and attitudes. Such critical values (Carspecken, 1996) were the fuel that drew people to the project. The project was also critical in the sense that together we raised questions about the power relations and distortions to consciousness that seemed to inﬂuence the way we did schooling (Carspecken, 1996). Moreover, the study was a close ﬁt for the ethnographic design typically requiring long-term engagement in the ﬁeld, emphasizing participants’ perspectives and describing naturalistic experiences in order to reconstruct the way members understand themselves and others. The problem-solving focus with local-level generation of solutions gave the project its actionorientation (Kincheloe, 2006). Thus, the qualitative design of the project was a hybrid version of critical ethnography and action research. During the past eight years, the population of English-as-a-New-Language learners2 has grown signiﬁcantly. In fact, until 2000 there was no English-as-a-New-Language teacher designated for newcomer students. Then, a secondary English teacher was partially reassigned to teach two classes for ENL students. This began the district’s eﬀorts to address the needs of ENL students. According to the Department of Education (2006), during the period from 2000 to 2002, the white student rate of the overall high school population decreased from 95 to 90 percent while the Asian student rate increased from .5 to 1 percent and the Hispanic student rate increased from 1.2 to 1.4 percent.3 In 2005 Yoko Martin was hired as an ENL classroom aide, and in January 2006 a second ENL aide was hired. In 2006, 1,027 students enrolled in the high school. Of the language-majority students, 91 percent were self-identiﬁed as white and 1.4 percent as black. Of the language-minority students, 6 percent were self-identiﬁed as Asian, 4.6 percent as Hispanic, and 3.1 percent as multi-racial (a group that does include language minority students) (DOE, 2006). In 2002 most of the teachers at the high school expressed frustration and confusion. Many seemed unable to relate to the newcomer students. The newcomer student problem seemed insurmountable given the teachers’ lack of preparation and limited cultural knowledge coupled with the high demands that teachers regularly faced. In our ﬁrst set of focus groups with educators, teachers persistently talked about ENL students 28
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo in non-empathetic terms. Most teachers talked about ENL students according to their language abilities and their participation in the ENL class. These same teachers did not identify the ENL students as their own, even when such students were enrolled in their classes. These characteristics are not atypical of other districts (Valenzuela,1999; Delpit, 1999). Fear and lack of understanding depicted most of the teachers’ talk about ENL students. For example, when teachers mentioned sanctioning children for speaking a language other than English in the classroom (something most teachers seemed proud of doing), that same teacher would justify this by saying that the students were likely to be cheating or saying things they shouldn’t if they were using a language other than English. Teachers expressed exasperation and frustration with the students’ inability to learn. Teachers tended to blame the victim. In other words, it was perfectly acceptable within the school community to blame ENL students for the academic failure. Again, this was not peculiar to Unityville (Ryan, 1976). The newcomer students were also frustrated. At the start of the project, all of the students we interviewed expressed concerns about the school and indicated that they were struggling to reap educational beneﬁts. In fact, many kids described their lives in terms that are usually associated with depression, including a student who talked of not wanting to live if life was going to continue this way. ENL students were skipping school, crying in the bathrooms, avoiding interactions, and feeling afraid because of bullying both inside and outside the school. When ENL student experiences have been studied, negative accounts of schooling have prevailed (Davidson, 1996; Valenzuela, 1999). For these reasons, it seems plausible to interpret the experiences at Unityville within a broader set of reports of similar phenomena. It is important to provide some description of insider/outsider dynamics experienced at the schools in Unityville. Most fundamentally, Unityville has not readily welcomed those who were not raised here. One member of the high school staﬀ told us that although she lived in Unityville for 18 years, she was still not considered “from” Unityville by locals. Being an insider was also linked to being white, Christian, and English-speaking. In the current times, being patriotic was another mark of being an insider. In the past, being associated with the Ku Klux Klan was a mark of being an insider. People who were considered outsiders were not easily included in school activities, talked with, or acknowledged. Yoko Martin faced this personally as a Japanese person employed in the school. She was ignored by other faculty (not in a seemingly purposeful way, but more as a manner of people paying attention to who they thought was important). Teachers who resisted the “extra” demands of teaching ENL students also expressed the idea that their students (the white insiders) should not have attention diverted away from them for the sake of these newcomers (outsiders). A few teachers (and this marks one extreme) actually 29
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence voiced the wish that the newcomer students and their families would leave the town. People at the site seemed keenly aware of these dynamics as they were openly talked about. One ENL student put it like this, “I changed everything about myself and still I am not accepted.”4 A district administrator told vague stories about ancestors who came to the country and learned English. This was the administrator’s way of distinguishing insiders from outsiders. It is important to realize that these insider/outsider dynamics formed part of the context for the ﬁndings presented below.
Relevant Literature and Findings The project was about change and it seems ﬁtting that our ﬁrst publication should report on some of the tentative, contested, promising changes that have come about as a result of the Outreach project. We discuss changes in two categories of school-related activities: (1) establishing trust and (2) developing empathy. Each subsection begins with a brief review of the relevant literature. This is followed by a report on the ﬁndings related to change and a description of the little things that made big diﬀerences. While these changes cannot be assumed to characterize the school at large, they oﬀered promise and direction to a school in ﬂux. We realize that this is an unorthodox presentation, but it best depicts the zeitgeist of the project with its reciprocal and recursive relation to action, ﬁndings, and literature.
Establishing Trust According to the literature… Basic trust between teachers and students is important for facilitating learning in the classroom. Rogers (1969) argued that facilitative learning depended on teachers recognizing the basic trustworthiness of students. Since trust is a relational construct (Roessingh, 2006) it seems plausible to extend Rogers’ (1969) argument to suggest that students should also recognize the basic trustworthiness of teachers. Congruent with our intuitions, research tells us that it is even more important for trust to infuse the teacher-student relationship when the students are newcomers. For example, according to Roessingh (2006), new immigrant students and their parents have to trust and rely on the teachers to help them navigate their new lives in America. At the same time, many of the structures usually involved in establishing trust (Yalom and Leszcz, 2005) were not found functioning in the teacher–newcomer student relationship. Not enough studies on trust have been published for us to have a full account of the role of trust in the education of newcomer students. Putnam (2000) identiﬁed two outcomes of trust in social relationships: (1) building or bonding social capital and (2) bridging social capital. Putnam explained that when people who are quite similar to one another form trusting relationships, they build and 30
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo bond their social capital. Trust in these relationships provides a mechanism for looking inward. Moreover, when trusting relationships develop amongst people who are quite diﬀerent from one another, those involved will bridge social capital. Trust that bridges social capital supports people looking outward. Roessingh (2006) furthered this point by arguing that it also takes bonding and bridging social capital to develop trust. Trust is both the structure and outcome (Giddens, 1992) of bonding and bridging cultural capital. Trusting relationships between teachers and newcomer students/families has not developed easily (Clemons-Brower, 1997). Nevertheless, educators like Roessingh (2006) claimed that teachers inevitably played a key role in developing high levels of trust with ESL students and their families. It was especially important for the teacher to take the lead in bridging cultural capital and in ﬁnding ways to bond with ESL students whose cultural capital would be strained in the new setting. What we found in Unityville… On no particular day, work as usual, Yoko Martin had one of many “aha” moments. In this one, Martin realized that the teachers and students did not trust each other and that the lack of trust was a barrier in the teaching/learning process. Indeed, we found that at Unityville Consolidated High School, issues of trust formed an understated tension in teacher-student and school-home relations. There was an expressed lack of trust on both sides of the relationship, and this seemed to confound breakthroughs. Early in the life of the project, distrust was openly and continually expressed in a way that made it seem as if the distrust was a sensible and appropriate response to the situation. One teacher said, “Well, how can I know [that] they’re doing their own work [if they are speaking Spanish]?” Several teachers said, “If they are speaking Spanish, they might be cheating or talking about me. So of course I don’t allow it.” Many others echoed these sentiments when talking about newcomer students and their potential for dishonesty or illegal activity. The local papers reported on police activity and many teachers informed us that their most valuable source of information about the new immigrant families came from those reports. Educators also intensely speculated about which Latino families might be legally residing in the country and which ones might not (while not expressing the least bit of interest in discerning which local employers were willing to hire undocumented workers). Negative attitudes about language diﬀerences fueled the distrust that school oﬃcials and Euro-American students felt for newcomer students. Many of the white students who were interviewed said that they did not trust their “foreign” classmates because those students had bad attitudes. When probed about how this bad attitude showed itself, the Euro-American students said that students “who did not speak English had a bad attitude and were not to be trusted.” Not all students felt this way, but those who didn’t feel this 31
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence way knew that they were in the minority. One such student wrote a note to the principal voicing his disgust for the way one particular newcomer student from Israel was treated by peers. In the note he said that he had tried to stand up against his peers’ prejudiced actions toward the newcomer, but he was unsuccessful. He said that even the teachers do not stand up to those who bully the newcomers, leaving him with the idea that they must condone such negative activities. Not all newcomer groups were treated equally bad with respect to establishing trust. Latino students were talked about in much more suspicious terms than students of other groups. For example, longtimers tended to explain Latino presence in the community diﬀerently and more negatively than they explained the presence of other groups. We heard many teachers and Euro-American students claim that “Latino families were here to take their jobs,” but on the contrary Japanese families were welcomed to town because their commerce was welcomed. Latino children were often referred to in criminal terms, and this just didn’t happen for Japanese youngsters (Brantmeier, 2005). Remembering that trust is a relational activity, it is important to also acknowledge that new immigrant and transnational students experienced some distrust for teachers and peers. The students did not know how to interpret their teachers and peers, plus they felt harassed and bullied. Their primary experiences early on included alienation and fear. Several students reported hiding in the bathrooms in order to avoid the lunchroom where they experienced serious amounts of taunting, such as “Beano, go home.” They very quickly developed a shared network of information that touted which teachers and students could be trusted. This limited list was primarily constituted of the teachers, aides, and project members that they spent the most time with and with whom they could converse in their home language. Parents of new immigrants initially expressed a basic form of trust for teachers and school oﬃcials with respect to their children. The parents did not always understand what was going on, but they expected the teachers to behave in a trustworthy manner and they seemed to trust that their children were being treated well. All of the parents we initially interviewed expressed this basic trust. Their concerns had mostly to do with their own limitations and complications related to language, cultural, and economic diﬀerences. Their children realized this and tended to act in ways that kept their parents’ trust in the school up. One student told us that he could not bear to tell his parents how he was treated like a criminal at school because his parents made great sacriﬁces so that he could be educated in a U.S. school. There were implied limitations to the trust parents expressed for the school. Namely, parents did not have enough information about the school or its staﬀ to be able to enter the school, participate in its activities, or raise questions about their children’s experiences. This produced something like a ceiling in their capacity to trust the teachers. They did not DISTRUST the school, but they also 32
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo were not drawn into it. We suspected that increasing their trust could facilitate greater motivation and expectations for involvement in the life of the school community. What we did in Unityville… Many of the activities we engaged in to build trust utilized and complicated the insider/ outsider dynamic. We found hope in those who could straddle the insider/outsider lines as we began the process of building trust. For example, Naomi Sotoo and Yoko Martin made themselves easily accessible to Japanese parents, and being Japanese themselves, were able to help establish interactions between parents and schools. Doing this helped parents to better understand teachers and administrators so that it became more likely for parents to think of teachers and administrators as trustworthy. Sotoo and Martin were relative outsiders in Unityville, but were interpreted as partial insiders by newcomer Japanese parents because they acted on behalf of the school. There were four main ways that Sotoo and Martin were involved in building trust with parents personally. This personal trust translated into parents trusting school personnel more. First of all, Sotoo and Martin, along with other members of the project team, hosted “Parent Nights” where newcomer parents were invited into the school to raise questions and get information. These events were held in the home languages with only members of the team meeting with the parents. Refreshments were served and an informal atmosphere was created. Secondly, Martin’s everyday presence at the school and Sotoo’s scheduled presence there served as an invitation for parents to come to school with questions. If they came to school when Martin or Sotoo was working, they had someone they could talk to, someone with whom the community of newcomers was developing a relationship. The third activity was something that Martin did. Martin made a serious eﬀort to begin learning Spanish. She enrolled in classes, found opportunities to speak Spanish at school, and thereby demonstrated to parents the importance she placed on being able to reach out to newcomers and their communities. Soon after Martin started speaking Spanish with students, she started receiving phone calls from Latino parents concerned about their children’s English skill development and their academic success. Fourth, members of the Outreach team created welcome brochures for newcomer students in both Japanese and Spanish. These were developed for each school in the district. The high school brochures were being used, though this had not yet happened at all the schools. Each of these activities provided opportunities to bridge cultural capital and to heighten the capacity for trust. With students, building trust was a more intense, conﬂicted process. Martin was immediately accepted as “one of the newcomers,” an outsider to Unityville but an insider to the newcomer, non-native English-speaking community. This created some 33
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence opportunities that would not have been as readily possible without her dual role as “newcomer insider” and “ENL classroom aide.” This “insider” image enabled Martin to help students bond with native-English-speaking educators and with the content of schooling. For example, Martin was able to facilitate positive connections between the students and Holly (pseudonym), the newly hired second ENL classroom aide (who was a longtime member of the Unityville community). When Holly was hired, many ENL students, at ﬁrst, experienced a problem trusting her despite her nice, passionate, and inclusive personality and her skills at teaching (a retired English teacher with the district). Martin suspected that the primary reason newcomer students had diﬃculty trusting this new aide was because of her “American”ness. Holly was, so-to-speak, a local, white, monolingual, veteran (formerly retired) English teacher, and as might be expected, we observed that many ENL students associated those features with “untrustworthiness” or trauma from their past experiences with other teachers. Martin and Holly formed a strong trusting relationship with each other and this proved heartening for students who identiﬁed with Martin. Martin consistently encouraged students to get help from Holly, implicitly letting them know that they could trust Holly because Martin trusted her. Holly also followed Martin’s lead and began learning Spanish in order to talk with Latino youth. Students eventually become acquainted with her and sought her help. Here we see that Martin’s trusting relationship with the students became a source of bonding and bridging cultural capital in relation to this new ENL aide. Similar connections were forged with other educators at the school. This also worked in reverse. Holly openly demonstrated respect for Martin’s language skills and academic expertise. Because Holly was an insider with school personnel, her respect inﬂuenced many teachers to start trusting Martin. Additionally, Martin was thought of as the “safe” foreign-language–speaking ﬁgure to American students. When we started collecting data, we did not observe any cases of American students greeting ENL students in languages other than English. This began to change as students felt safe approaching Martin. The hallways became the site of a conversion: Quite a large number of students began speaking in Japanese or Spanish to Martin. Because the students knew she was an educator, they felt safe enough to try out their “ﬂedgling” language skills where Spanish and Japanese were two of the languages oﬀered by the foreign language department. Occasionally, this happened when Martin was with ENL students. Euro-Americans speaking Spanish and Japanese in the hallways impressed and amazed ENL students. The linguistic exchanges, even at a very early level of conversational skill, served to bond non-native and native English speakers for a moment. Such experiences chiseled away at the seemingly static insider/outsider divide. It became more and more common to hear Spanish and Japanese languages being spoken. Monolingualism was tacitly called into question. 34
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo Sotoo facilitated one of four bi-weekly “socialization connections,” in which groups of four to six high school students met with an IU project team member via videoconferencing “courses” in home languages. These connections took place for one hour every other week and occurred during the students’ scheduled ENL class. During the connection, students raised questions about school culture and about their experiences in the United States. They discussed their similar and varied experiences, their concerns, feelings, and ambitions. The IU facilitators, like Sotoo, helped the students understand their experiences while also learning about the perspectives of educators and the norms and values common in American schools. Sotoo and the others bridged cultural capital and empowered students in a way that made it possible to break through the distrust. Later in the life of the project, Sotoo began meeting once a week, face-to-face with a Japanese female support group. Sotoo, who is earning a degree in school psychology with a minor in counseling, used the support group format to wrestle with challenges, celebrate successes, and empower potential associated with being a Japanese newcomer. Both the socialization connections and the support group provided opportunities for bonding with cultural capital (as newcomer, non-native English speakers with skills unacknowledged in the schools) and bridging cultural capital (as newcomers who were gaining varying expertise with the new culture). Sotoo, like Martin, straddled the insider/ outsider line. We must also report that Sotoo and Martin experienced challenges in their eﬀorts to build trust. For example, both of them (along with other members of the project team) served as translators between parents/students and educators. On occasion educators would ask team members to translate a message to the parents when that team member (because of their “inside” connection to the newcomers) knew the message would be interpreted as insulting or unwelcoming. Sometimes project team members did not agree with the perspective of those educators for whom the translation was being oﬀered. To express the disagreement might result in creating a ﬁssure of trust. To align with something to which one did not agree, was also problematic. Resolving this was not an easy task. Also, because the newcomer students trusted Martin over and above other educators at the high school, they put pressure on that trust. For example, when they were unhappy with another teacher, they expected Martin to side with them. If the coursework seemed too diﬃcult, they hoped Martin would do it for them. Sometimes they hoped Martin would cover for them. A particularly poignant example involved a couple of students who skipped a class and then reported that they had been working with Martin when actually they had not. Martin was asked to verify the students’ accounts. In this situation, the newcomer students expected Martin to be loyal to them, even though it involved 35
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence misleading the administrators. Martin had to convince the students that her concern for their best interest involved securing their attendance in class while simultaneously working to see that such attendance was in their best interests. Using Martin as a cover did not promote their best interests so she was unwilling to go along with that. Martin handled this with the students, trying to use the already established trust as a foundation for working through challenges. Other eﬀorts that beneﬁted trusting relationships between teachers and ENL students involved helping teachers develop skills for supporting the learning eﬀorts of ENL students. One of our ENL students told us about a teacher who nonchalantly held up a protractor when using the word “protractor.” Our student was convinced the teacher was trying to help him in a way that did not embarrass him or call attention to him. When teachers did things like this, the students interpreted them as caring and this became a cornerstone for the development of trust. This kind of teaching activity helped to bridge cultural capital, contrasting with those activities that isolated students or blamed them for being diﬀerent. We did several things that were speciﬁcally designed to develop teachers’ skills as bridging cultural capital. First of all, we oﬀered professional development ranging from teaching basic phrases in languages that newcomers spoke (and we invited the ENL students to provide leadership for these sessions) to exploring their own misconceptions about “outsiders” through Theatre of the Oppressed (Boal, 1985). Secondly, Martin worked individually with willing teachers to modify their classroom practices so that they were more inclusive. Thirdly, Martin and a cadre of other teachers/staﬀ members created and implemented an integrated peace curriculum that focused the inclusion of newcomer students into the Unityville community. The process took nine months of inquiry and development through weekly meetings led by an IU graduate student (Brantmeier, 2005). The peace curriculum eﬀort demonstrated how the inclusion of newcomers could become a source of substance for learning rather than just something to be overcome. Lastly, Martin became an advocate for youngsters with the administrators and other teachers. This helped the administrators take a more supportive stance, which seemed to promote trust. For example, in 2006 there were nationally organized rallies regarding immigration policy. Unityville high school administrators oﬀered excused absences to newcomers for participating in the rallies. Martin was able to advocate for this with administrators and the result was that students entertained the possibility that administrators might be trustworthy. We began the section with literature that said it was important for teachers to recognize the trustworthiness of students. And in our description of Unityville we portrayed a starting scene that was generally marred by teacher distrust of newcomer students. Teachers did not even trust Martin. This problem was traversed a bit because of 36
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo the trusting relationship between Holly (who was a Unityville insider) and Martin. Small steps in establishing trust within the school began to dismantle teacher mistrust, however, we found that a key element involved in fostering teachers’ trust in students involved developing their compassion and empathy for newcomers.
Developing Empathy According to the literature… Empathetic understanding (Rogers, 1969) is the attitude of putting oneself in the other’s shoes to view the world through the other’s eyes and try to understand an experience from the other’s perspective. Rogers (1969) argues that when the teacher has the ability to understand the student’s reactions from the inside, has a sensitive awareness of the way the process of education and learning seems to the student, then again the likelihood of signiﬁcant learning is increased. (p.111) Various research ﬁndings have suggested that teachers tend to have negative views toward culturally diﬀerent students and they tend to have lower expectations toward minority students including newcomers (Franquiz, 2004; Thompson, et.al, 2004). Without examining their own prejudices and stereotypes toward students, it is unlikely that teachers will develop high levels of empathetic understanding. Setting up an eﬀective and positively aﬀective learning environment in the classroom is the teachers’ responsibility. The aﬀective learning classroom welcomes all students and validates and celebrates each person (Fischer, 1990). There are some published exercises for developing empathy among students and teachers. Linse and White (2001) wrote about fostering empathy among monolingual English speakers toward ESL students. Their strategy promoted perspective-taking skills among monolingual students by listening to ESL students’ stories in their native languages. The monolingual students momentarily experienced the isolation, confusion, and rejection that their non-native English speaking peers faced on a daily basis. At the same time, the ESL students become more conﬁdent as their multilingualism (being able to read their own stories in two languages) was displayed as an accomplishment not a deﬁcit (Linse & White, 2001). Nieto (1992) reported that negative attitudes of teachers toward ethnic and language minority students resulted in unintentional discrimination by well-intentioned teachers. Over time, negative teacher attitudes and low expectations developed “learned helplessness” among ethnic and language minority students (Gay, 2000). Studies indicated that educators who are not sensitive to the needs of minority students often are unaware of the cultural conﬂicts that cause barriers in the learning processes of minority students (Larke, 1990). 37
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence In the Context of Unityville… Students and teachers did not talk about each other in empathetic terms. Neither teachers/majority students nor newcomer students could easily understand what their relationships and experiences with one another were like from the Other’s perspective. Strong evidence of this on the part of teachers and majority students surfaced during our ﬁrst interviews and was further evidenced a year later during some professional development work. Speciﬁcally, the teachers participated in Theatre of the Oppressed led by Barbara Korth and another IU member of the project team. Teachers were asked to act out the parts of newcomer students. The teachers’ struggles with doing this were evidenced by their avoidance of the ﬁrst person when acting the role of newcomer student, their inability to act the newcomer roles authentically, and the way they questioned why newcomer students tended to act in certain ways. The diﬃculties these teachers experienced extending their empathy had a lot to do with their lack of relationships with newcomer students and their concomitant inability to position-take with much conﬁdence. Teachers did not know how to identify with newcomer students. In much the same way, many participating teachers did not seem to understand Martin or other personnel who seemed “close” to the ENL students. Diﬀerence was experienced as a barrier to understanding and empathy. For example, teachers said, it was good that the students had Martin to relate to, as if it would not be possible for those same students to relate to them as white, English-speaking folks. Of course, it was good that the students had Martin to relate to, but this did not, in principle, mean that others were exonerated from the responsibility of getting to know the students. Teachers and majority students who claimed general unfamiliarity with culture shock and language immersion could not relate to the challenges of such an experience (at least this is what they believed). So, for example, they interpreted newcomer students sitting together in the cafeteria as an indicator that the newcomer students were behaving standoﬃsh in this obvious refusal to “mix in.” No one questioned why the Euro-American kids all sat together in the cafeteria. Furthermore, teachers and Euro-American students did not immediately identify with the comfort newcomers might feel in each others’ company or the relief that might be found in having an hour to converse in a language of proﬁciency or the compounding of pain that builds up when one is expected to go through the day unable to express herself. Such ideas held by teachers and EuroAmerican students worked against them extending empathy to these new “outsiders.” Teachers and majority students also tended to operate with a set of assumptions about newcomers, their own school, and language learning that seemed antithetical to empathy. One particularly strong assumption was that the “sink or swim” approach to language learning was “proven” to work best for transitioning students into English 38
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo schools. Another strong assumption was that assimilation was the most desirable outcome of education for newcomer students. Lastly, teachers and students believed that having newcomers in the school was a “problem” that could only weaken and compromise the historically strong educational programs at the high school. This last assumption capitalized on the idea that change was negative. These shared assumptions provided rationale for relating to newcomer students on majority cultural terms alone. So long as ENL students were unable to do this, relationships were tenuous at best. This was a very diﬀerent basis for relationship than empathy or trust provide. There was another reason for resisting empathy. Teachers, in particular, viewed empathy as something that would keep them from treating kids “fairly.” One teacher put it like this, “I am not going to do anything diﬀerent for them [the newcomer students] than I am doing for my regular students.” Many teachers said things like this: “What would my students [these were the mainstream students] think if I started giving advantages to these students [the ENL youth]?” Still others expressed it like this: “Why would I want to waste more of my time and energy on these students [again referring to the ENL students] when I could invest that [energy] in my students where it might really make a diﬀerence?” Teachers associated empathy toward newcomer students with being too soft. They resisted providing too much “help” to transnational students without providing that same level of accommodation and support for their other students. This produced an interesting tension because empathy was placed in a zero-sum gain economy of “support” with teacher attention and eﬀort as the primary good to be distributed. When teachers did put in what they thought of as extra eﬀort to support the learning needs of ENL students, they wanted to be able to see the pay oﬀ. Many teachers reported not feeling successful with newcomer students and this had to do with the extent they saw tangible beneﬁts. Moreover, improving one’s teaching skills so that ENL students had better learning opportunities demanded more of teachers. While some teachers sought out opportunities to improve teaching so that they were more successful with newcomers, they also wanted to do this in a way that did not detract from meeting the needs of their more “traditional” students. In contrast, there were teachers who pondered what it must be like to be thrust into a foreign community with little support. This usually led to teachers feeling guilty. Another rather unskilled attempt toward empathy involved teachers making sense of the ENL student experiences by relating them to earlier experiences of other minority groups, like Latinos are the new blacks. This racially premised comment was an attempt on the part of those who oﬀered it (and actually this was a common phrase around the school) to say “We can understand that Latino students might feel discrimination” and “We know it was diﬃcult for black students, and we imagine that it must be at least that diﬃcult 39
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence for newcomer students.” So while these notions of empathy are themselves limited, they reﬂect some awareness that ENL students faced challenges that the more “traditional” students did not face. Newcomer students were not easily empathetic toward teachers and Euro-American students. While teacher empathy is discussed in the literature, we found no publications that looked at the student empathy for teachers. We were interested in developing mutual empathy and reciprocity, though we recognize that the eﬀects teachers could wield made their empathy crucial. Also, as we reported above, we found that limitations in empathy blocked the establishment of trust. We found that ENL students were bullied, punished, and excluded at a higher rate than their white classmates. These experiences made it diﬃcult for them to empathize with white students. When asked if he wanted to develop friendships with white kids, one ENL student said, “They are mean to us. Why would I want to be friends with them?” This was a common sentiment among the newcomers. ENL students did not seem to grasp how vulnerable the “traditional” students felt around groups of students who were diﬀerent. Also, the ENL students were not able to describe how it might feel to be a teacher who lacked the skills to teach some students. For example, newcomer students interpreted teaching inadequacies as intentional not skill-based. There were exceptions to this. For example, when one student told us that her teacher insulted her every day, she conceded that maybe the teacher did not realize she was doing this. The insider/outsider dynamics constrained empathy. For example, teachers saw empathy as something that was asked of them on behalf of newcomer students, but they did not realize that they were already empathetic with Euro-American students in eﬀortless and taken-for-granted ways. All of us do this. To extend empathy to people who are diﬀerent from us can require more eﬀort and so we might notice its demands more. What we did in Unityville… Developing empathy was an important goal for project participants. We wanted to develop our own empathy as well as seek opportunities for this to become a more general area of growth. This goal inspired several project activities. Several teachers participated in our Theatre of the Oppressed workshop (Boal, 1985). After a slow beginning, the teachers began to see their own teaching actions from the perspective of newcomer students. We acted out bullying scenes and though the teachers would immediately denounce the bullying of newcomers with their words, they were initially unable to act out scenes that resulted in eﬀecting the bullying behavior. Eventually, they began to see how the newcomer students might feel diﬀerent if teachers greeted them in the hallways using both the home language and their names. 40
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo This empathy was an impetus for some of the teachers to change how they interacted with newcomer students. Teachers also realized the lack of emotional and cultural resources ENL students had for dealing with bullying and this inspired the teachers to provide support for the disempowered students. Toward that end, there was an increase in homemade, anti-bullying posters hanging in the school along with more explicit conversations within the school community about bullying. Another eﬀort involved translating policies into empathetic responses. At the beginning of fall 2006, one of the assistant principals held a meeting with teachers regarding the governmental policies on ENL education. The administrator explained that giving ENL students equal learning opportunities as other students in class was not enough to meet the mandate for accommodations. Teachers were told about the lawsuit in California in which a Chinese family sued a teacher for not accommodating for the student (Williams vs. State of California, 2004 cited in Sacramento County Oﬃce of Education, 2007). The family won that case. Though many teachers looked frustrated, they took it very seriously. To follow up on this meeting, Yoko Martin and Holly met with each teacher to discuss the accommodation options. At ﬁrst, some teachers were disconnected with Martin because of Martin’s outsider status; however, Holly, who was an insider, extended a lot of eﬀort sharing her own empathy towards the ENL students and describing the ENL students’ struggles. She demonstrated a kind of empathy for the students to which the teachers related. She was heard by teachers when Martin wasn’t. Another activity that helped to develop empathy within the school community involved fostering a special relationship between a Euro-American student and ENL students. During Martin’s study hall hour, an American student worker helped her work with the ENL students. This American student was an honor student who wanted to go to Mexico to teach English after her graduation. Martin’s Latino students built good relationships with her through the class and these good relationships gradually extended outside of class. A few Euro-American students who were friends of the student worker visited Martin’s ENL study hall during their time oﬀ. The students started greeting each other even in hallways. Martin was very happy to witness that. This kind of person-byperson contact oﬀered hope for empathetic relationships among students. Similar things happened when students were paired in language classes. Using newcomer student names was another way to extend empathy. Often, ENL students were not called by name. Turning this around involved helping administrators and teachers learn to pronounce student names. Using the students’ names raised the human aspect of the relationship which opened the door for empathy. This was important to newcomer students. In fact, one boy told us that he liked playing soccer with the Euro-American boys but what he didn’t like was that they did not call him by his name. They called him “Mexico” and he was not even from “Mexico.” 41
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence
And The Story Goes On Although we cannot conclude the story, we would like to use the ﬁnal few paragraphs to reﬂect on our engagement with the project and with these ﬁndings and look toward the future. Together, we represent three of many constituent actors working collaboratively to learn from, beneﬁt from, confront challenges in, and share with a diverse community of scholars, practitioners, and students. The IU-Unityville Outreach project has experienced uneven support, modest success, disappointment, persistent resistance, and friendship. When we walk through the halls in 2007 (four and half years after the inception of the project), we smile. Many of the small eﬀorts have become mainstay in the life of the school. Newcomer students are happier. They are ﬁnding some academic success. Some have entered college. Teachers have become new. Euro-American students have started to ﬁnd ways to appreciate and enjoy their ELL counterparts. Trust and empathy are consistently more prevalent day by day. The school culture is changing and multiculturalism is developing. As for us, we have developed friendships, colleague-ships, and circles of caring. We are in touch with each other, students, and parents. Frankly, all of our work on trust, empathy, and expectations has beneﬁted us as individuals in ways that would take volumes to express. These little things made a big diﬀerence on our lives as students, practitioners, and scholars. Peter McLaren (2006) argued that really inquiry occurs when the researchers are willing to be wounded in the ﬁeld. All of us, wounded and healed, have been aﬀected by the experience in ways neither foreseen nor calculated when we entered this scholarly partnership.
Notes 1. Unless otherwise indicated, ﬁrst person plural references include Unityville employees, IU graduate students, and Barbara Korth who were counted as team members. This was not a monolithic group, but members were united through the goals and activities of the project. 2. English-as-a-New-Language is the speciﬁc name of a kind of program serving English Language Learners (ELLs). We use the terms ENL students, ELLs, and newcomers to refer the same population of students at the high school in Unityville. 3. These labels are the ones the school uses. 4. All student quotes were translated from the home language into English by team members.
References Brantmeier, E. (2005). Constraints and possibilities for intercultural peace curricula: A critical case study of teacher involvement in multicultural change at a U.S. Midwestern high school. Indiana University. Unpublished Dissertation.
Barbara Korth, Yoko Martin, & Naomi Sotoo Boal, A. (1985). Theatre of the oppressed. New York, NY: Theatre Communications Group. Carspecken, P. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: Theoretical and practical guide. New York, NY: Routledge. Clemons-Brower, T. J. (1997). Recruiting parents and the community. Educational Leadership 54(5), 58-61. Davidson, A. L. (1996). Making and molding identity in schools: Student narratives on race, gender, and academic engagement. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Delpit, L. (1996). Other people’s children: Cultural conﬂict in the classroom. New York, NY: New Press. Department of Education (2006). Report. http://mustang.doe.state.in.us/TRENDS/enr_tree. cfm?year=2007&schl=7717 (Accessed November 2006 and January 19, 2007). Fischer, Ruth Overman (1990). Understanding students from other cultures: What they’d have us know. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of The National Council of Teachers of English (80th, Atlanta, GA, November 16-21, 1990). Opinion Papers/Speeches/Meeting Paper. Fránquiz, M. E. & del Carmen Salazar, María. (2004). The transformative potential of humanizing pedagogy: Addressing the diverse needs of Chicano/Mexicano students. High School Journal 87(4), 36-53. Freire, P. (1974/1990). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum. Gay, G. (2000). Cultural responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Giddens, A. (1992). Central problems in social theory. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Jacobson, L. (2006). California urged to address teacher shortcomings. Education Week 26(15), 16-17. Kincheloe, J. (2006). Teachers as researchers: Qualitative inquiry as a path to empowerment. Second Edition. New York and London: Falmer Press: Routledge. Larke, P. J. (1990). Cultural diversity awareness inventory: Assessing the sensitivity of preservice teachers. Action in Teacher Education, 12, 23-30. Lee, Stacey. (1996). Unraveling the “model minority” stereotype: listening to Asian American youth. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Linse, C. & White, K. (2001). ESL fourth graders teach monolingual English speakers about language diversity. Multicultural Perspectives 3(1), 36-38. Nieto, S. (1992). Aﬃrming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. White Plains, NY: Longman. McLaren, P. (2006). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. 5th Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Noddings, N. (1992) The challenge to care in schools: An alternative approach to education, Second Edition. New York, NY: Teacher College Press Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. Toronto: Simon & Schuster. Roessingh, H. (2006). The teacher is the key: Building trust in ESL high school programs. The Canadian Modem Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes 62(4 aune/ juin), 56S590. Rogers, C. R. (1969). The interpersonal relationship in the facilitation of learning. In Carl Rodgers, Freedom to Learn (102-127), Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Co., 102-127. Ryan, W. (1976). Blaming the victim. Revised Edition. New York, NY: Vintage Press. Sacramento County Oﬃce of Education. (2007). Williams versus State of California. http://www. scoe.net/williams/index.html, Accessed January 17, 2007.
Little Things That Made a Big Diﬀerence Shaw, T. (1994). Adopting to the U.S. classroom: Problems and strategies of Asian high school students in Boston area schools. ERIC Thompson, G. L. & Warren, S. & Carter, L. (2004). It’s not my fault: Predicting high school teachers who blame parents and students for students’ low achievement. High School Journal 87 (3), p5-14. Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press Vandrick, S. (2000). Language, culture, class, gender and class participation. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (Vancouver, Canada, March, 2000). Waters, J.K. (2007). The universal LANGUAGE. T.H.E. Journal 34(1) Woodrow, L. (2006). Anxiety and speaking English as a second language. RELC Journal 37(3), 308-328. Yalom, I and Leszcz, M. (2005). The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. 5th Edition. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Scholar-Practitioner Reflections on the Urban Education Contexts of Race and Social Class in the Current Climate of Standards and Accountability Raymond A. Horn Jr., Saint Joseph’s University Thomas Conway, Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter High School, & Michelle Williams, Philadelphia Tech Prep Consortium
Abstract The complexity of urban education continues to be a challenge for urban educators. This paper explores the urban education context of race and social class in the current climate of standards and accountability through the reﬂections of two public school scholar-practitioners. First, the fundamental tenets of scholar-practitioner leadership are presented in the context of a critical pragmatic praxis. The perspectives of two Philadelphia scholar-practitioner urban educators in their attempts to deal with urban educational complexity in relation to the inﬂuences of race, social class, and the standards and accountability mandates are presented. The one educator is a charter school Social Studies Department chairperson, and the other is the academic facilitator for a tech prep consortium at a Philadelphia community college. Additionally, both educators discuss how the scholar-practitioner concept positions them to better deal with the complex challenges of urban education.
Introduction The complexity of urban education continues to be a unique challenge for urban educators whose purpose is to provide an eﬀective, eﬃcient, and socially just and caring learning experience for their students, and for the other educational stakeholders (i.e., teachers, administrators, parents, community groups) in their urban place. Urban public schools are nested within an environmental context that includes similarities between all of the schools within a speciﬁc city and signiﬁcant diﬀerences from one neighborhood to another within that city. Within a city, some schools have higher rates of ethnic, racial, 45
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education and religious diversity, while others mirror the resegregation of the city’s population into areas that are predominately representative of only one ethnic or racial group (Steinberg & Kincheloe, 2004). One neighborhood school may have a high immigrant population and another a student population from families that have resided within that neighborhood for many generations. Crime rates, community resources, and public transportation services may vary from one school to another. However, all urban public schools struggle with administrator and teacher retention rates, standardized testing and accountability mandates, and educational funding limitations. Additional struggles include the systemic poverty, racism, violence and crime, drug abuse, sexism, childhood hunger and inadequate medical care, and challenging family situations that too often mediate and inform urban educational environments. How then do urban educators respond to the complexity of these unique educational challenges? When educators attempt to seek clarity in how they respond to the intricacies of their situation, often the result is a false clarity that does not include the racial, social, economic, cultural, and political inﬂuences that participate in the construction of the educational experience of their unique place. In addition, the false clarity that they perceive does not allow a critical reading of the consequences of their actions in relation to issues of social justice, caring, and democracy. With the above in mind, scholarpractitioner educators are individuals “with a moral and political vision of what it means to educate students to govern, lead a humane life, and address the social welfare of those less fortunate than themselves” (Giroux, 1994, p. 45). The value of an educator who is becoming a scholar-practitioner leader lies in this person’s ability to critique these inﬂuences and their consequences, as well as his or her own understanding of social justice, an ethic of care, and democracy.
Fundamental Tenets of Scholar-Practitioner Leadership The purpose of this conversation is to explore how the fundamental tenets of scholarpractitioner leadership can aid an educator in the educator’s attempt to move towards a clear and critical perception of how these contextual inﬂuences and their consequences mediate and inform the educator’s decisions. My position, as a participant in this conversation, is grounded in a critical pragmatic view that recognizes the complexity of the urban educational environment and the ongoing challenges of becoming a scholarpractitioner leader. I view the term critical as an overarching concern by the individual for the promotion of socially just, caring, and democratic education. Of course, prior to the actions that I take to promote my goals, I must ﬁrst critically examine my own beliefs that inform how I deﬁne social justice, caring, and democratic education and how these deﬁnitions relate to the reality of the educational environment in which I am embedded. My critical pragmatic view accepts the absolute necessity of recognizing and dealing with 46
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams the racial, social, economic, political, and cultural inﬂuences that act from a position of power in the construction of the urban educational experience. More succinctly, this critical pragmatic view requires me to attempt to meet the expectations and mandates of interest groups (i.e., federal, state, and district standards and accountability procedures) while still providing what I consider to be equitable and caring curriculum, instruction, and assessment activities within my educational place. In some cases, what is required by authorities from outside of one’s educational environment may conﬂict with one’s own experiential understanding of how quite diﬀerent curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices may, in actuality, better meet the needs of the local community and students. The argument that supports this purpose is that these multiple and often contradictory goals can be achieved only through the critical pragmatic actions of scholar-practitioner leaders. How then do I deﬁne a scholar-practitioner leader and what do I recognize as the central tenets of scholar-practitioner leadership? A short answer to this question is that scholar-practitioner leaders ﬁrst recognize the complexity of their educational place and then through the employment of critical literacy take informed critical action that will move them and others towards an educational situation that eﬀectively meets the needs of their students in a caring and equitable manner. Of course, as is the case when engaging in a critical pragmatic praxis, scholar-practitioner leaders recognize that a decision and the subsequent action may achieve only a partial realization of the imposed external mandates and their own critical goals. This necessitates an ongoing critical reﬂection that shapes future action.
A Critical Pragmatic Praxis The basis for a critical pragmatic praxis involves critical literacy, critical reﬂection, and disciplined inquiry (Horn, 2006; Mullen, 2003). Critical literacy involves the ability to recognize how power is arranged and how this arrangement aﬀects the identity of individuals and groups, and how power arrangements oppress and empower individuals as single entities and as willing and non-willing members of social, racial, ethnic, gendered, cultural, and economic groups. Through their ability to critically read the situations in which they are involved, scholar-practitioner leaders uncover and critique the representations that others and themselves make in an attempt to dominate and control. The critical reading of power arrangements and their consequences is a diﬃcult activity because the critical reading in which we engage is mediated and informed by our own values and beliefs. Some individuals propose that we all believe that what we do is intended to promote just and caring outcomes. Herein lies the diﬃculty that is encountered when attempting to critically read a situation. What is diﬃcult is the requirement of critical reading to critique our interpretations of the outcomes, which in 47
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education essence is the requirement to critique our own values and beliefs. However, the process of critical reﬂection aids us in this diﬃcult endeavor. Integral to the activities related to critical literacy is the ability to critically reﬂect. In education, reﬂection has been greatly promoted as a means to become aware (Brookﬁeld, 1995; Schön, 1983; Zeichner & Liston, 1996) in order to better adapt and shape one’s actions. In this context, critical reﬂection implies the use of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, grounded in a concern for the promotion of equitable and caring education, to uncover the consequences of one’s actions. Scholar-practitioners realize that they must critically reﬂect on all of the multiple contexts of their action. This not only includes reﬂection on their planning, action, and outcomes of the action, but also on all of the inﬂuences and interests that informed and mediated their own activity. Critical reﬂection also scrutinizes the inﬂuences of these interests on the individuals involved in the activity and the place in which the activity occurred. For instance, when engaging in this critically oriented activity, principals and teachers would critically reﬂect on the mandates that framed their action plans, implementation of the plans, and the consequences of their actions. In addition, they would also critically reﬂect upon the needs and identities of the involved stakeholders and upon the social, economic, political, and cultural pressures acting on those stakeholders. Also, scholar-practitioner leaders would consider how all of this human activity was complicit in the reconstruction of reality and the eﬀects of this activity on the power arrangements that subsequently determine how people live together. Also a dynamically interrelated part of scholar-practitioner activity is the employment of disciplined inquiry. Disciplined inquiry implies that whatever inquiry methods are utilized, they must be utilized in a manner that is deemed credible, valid, reliable, or trustworthy by the professional protocols of the ﬁelds that developed them. Becoming critically aware and taking critically informed action requires a holistic view of human phenomena that can be acquired only through the use of multiple methods of inquiry. The notion of multiple methods of inquiry implies the disposition to use many methods that uncover the nuances of meaning that cannot be uncovered when only one method is employed. Metaphorically, each inquiry method acts as a lens that allows the scholarpractitioner to see more deeply and broadly, thus increasing the scholar-practitioner’s holistic understanding and increasing the potential success of the action that is taken. Simplistically, we cannot understand the whole story from only one picture. To capture the whole story, scholar-practitioners must act as bricoleurs. According to Jenlink (2002), “Bricolage, as the emergent and constantly changing social practice of the scholar-practitioner, is socially constructed through the diﬀerent methods, materials, and practices that work to resolve the deeply complex and often ideologically embedded nature of problems in the scholar-practitioner’s world of practice” 48
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams (p. 4). Kincheloe (1998) argues that this bricolage is a necessary component of critical research that allows the inquirer to engage the deep and hidden complexities of human experience, especially the political and ethical nature of the knowledge that is uncovered. Both of these positions recognize the inherent need for scholar-practitioners to seek a holistic understanding of a phenomenon that aids them in their attempt to critically engage the power arrangements that mediate and inform their educational experience.
Being and Becoming a Scholar-Practitioner Leader Acquiring the abilities to use one’s critical literacy to critically reﬂect and inquire in a disciplined manner are foundational precepts of what constitutes a scholar-practitioner leader. However, it is important to understand that regardless of the degree to which a scholar-practitioner has developed these abilities, all scholar-practitioners are in a state of becoming. The ﬁrst requirement of a scholar-practitioner is the disposition toward selfawareness. Because of the inherent changing nature of individuals, their activity, and the larger environment in which they are embedded, understanding one’s self, others, and the social environment is a project that is always under construction. Therefore, a scholarpractitioner cannot be a scholar-practitioner, but is always becoming a scholar-practitioner.
Two Perspectives on Scholar-Practitioner Leadership in the Urban Environment As stated, the purpose of this conversation is to explore how the fundamental tenets of scholar-practitioner leadership, as expressed through a critical pragmatic praxis, can aid an educator in the educator’s attempt to move towards a clear and critical perception of how these contextual inﬂuences and their consequences mediate and inform the educator’s decisions. Thomas Conway and Michelle Williams, who are doctoral students at Saint Joseph’s University and educators in the city of Philadelphia, will now provide two perspectives on their use of the scholar-practitioner concept in their urban practice. Thomas Conway is the Social Studies Department chairperson at Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter High School (PE&T). In addition to his duties as chair, Conway is the coordinator for summer school programs and all after-school remediation programs in math and reading. PE&T is a racially diverse school located in center city Philadelphia. Michelle Williams is the academic facilitator for the Philadelphia Tech Prep Consortium, which is a support program housed at the Community College of Philadelphia. She coordinates a tutoring program that employs college students to tutor 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in the School District of Philadelphia. Additionally, she conducts college-preparatory workshops and classes for high school juniors and seniors. She has taught developmental English and writing classes to college freshmen at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. 49
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education Thomas Conway’s Perspective Over the last several decades, a few issues have impacted urban education and these issues have created an opportunity for research and reﬂection by scholar-practitioners. Since the Brown v Board of Education case in the 1950s, race and social class have played an important factor in public education. As an educator that has worked in the urban setting for most of my career, I have seen diﬀerent research-based movements (i.e., multiple intelligences and Ebonics) within the educational ﬁeld take hold in the classrooms. As soon as the staﬀ learns about the new theory, they watch the movement fall by the wayside as it is replaced with a new theory about learning. These theories try to address the apparent deﬁciencies of urban students as compared to their suburban and rural counterparts. Public education in the cities has not worked because of the lack of consistency of staﬀ (i.e., teacher attrition rates) and curriculum. The diversity of the teaching staﬀ has continued to decline over the last several years and has become whiter at most urban schools (Milner, 2006). We have entered a time in public school teaching where many teachers are being confronted with a new level of diversity (Milner, 2006). Students are from diverse backgrounds both racially and economically. By becoming scholar-practitioners, educators can use the tools of critical literacy, critical reﬂection, and disciplined inquiry to help them understand how race and social class impact the school setting and how various learning theories can be better implemented in the schools. Critical literacy is an important concept to understand. Power arrangements and the apparent lack of power by many have had a huge impact on the urban educational environment. Court mandates, such as Brown, along with federal, state, and local legislation, at times have tried to rectify the imbalance of power caused by race and social class. The term “African American” is often treated monolithically by society; however, the African American community carries as much diversity within itself as any other cultural classiﬁcation. For so long in American society, African Americans have been denied power, but gradually over the 20th century boundaries and obstacles were removed for some African Americans. Today, you can locate very racially diverse schools in big cities. However, in some other sections of that same city, a resegregation factor has come back into play. This resegregation is either self-imposed or imposed by oppressive economic forces from outside the community. In Philadelphia, there is a charter school with a mission that speciﬁcally addresses an African-centered approach to education in order to address this power issue. In my current school setting, it is interesting to see how students from a non-European lineage interrelate with our primarily white staﬀ. My encounter with African American families has been very positive; however, there have been occasions where I have had the need to prove that I was not operating from an oppressive position. There is still a distrust of authority by some African American students that carries over into the educational 50
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams environment. It is an unspoken distrust, and only through the use of critical literacy can educators understand the multiple relational levels that are in play within the studentteacher relationship. Another factor that creates this imbalance of power is on the level of funding and resources available to urban students. The suburban school districts tend to have a higher level of funding for education because of a higher socio-economic status (SES) in those communities. Students from higher SES backgrounds often come to school with their basic needs met (i.e., proper nutrition and sleep). Some urban students are faced with a cycle of poverty that has gripped their families for years. There are urban teachers and students that have found a way to overcome these diﬃculties, but “in many instances, teachers and students in urban contexts are met with challenges that they ﬁnd diﬃcult to work through and master” (Milner, 2006, p. 346). Some of these challenges are unemployed parents, teenage pregnancy, children raised by grandparents, gun violence, and gang warfare. These are just some of the “power” issues that students bring to the classroom. Through critical reﬂection as scholar-practitioners, educators realize that it is not just the curriculum and standards that they need to understand, but also they must acquire a critical understanding of the background of students in their care. It is through this critical reﬂection that an educator can realize the many forces that aﬀect their students’ learning. Many states have imposed continuing education requirements upon teachers to maintain their certiﬁcations. Educators ﬁrst met these requirements with some resistance. However, if professional development programs and continuing education classes are structured appropriately, these settings can become laboratories for disciplined inquiry by scholar-practitioners. Urban educators know the problems that exist but often lack the time and resources available to make appropriate inquiries. Research-based programs and journals can be a tremendous support to teachers in the ﬁeld. By reading about SESrelated issues, educators will add appropriate lenses to their inquiry methods. As a result, they will become better bricoleurs. In my own career, I have turned toward academic journals for insight and information about SES-related issues. By having this knowledge base, teachers might be able to overcome their color-blind and culture-blind approaches to education (Milner, 2006). Instead of ignoring the diﬀerences in front of them, educators through disciplined inquiry can learn to think “about the enormous, central, and profound inﬂuences of color and culture in teaching and learning” (Milner, p. 352). Through the development of becoming and always becoming a scholar-practitioner, the tools that I need to eﬀectively interact with the diverse student population in my presence become manageable. Teaching in the urban setting can be overwhelming at times because of the many forces at pull within the system. It is by better understanding these unseen and unspoken forces that educators will become more eﬀective in the urban 51
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education setting. By only remaining a practitioner, teachers do a disservice to themselves and their students. Through continued scholarship and inquiry, educators will be able to apply a more holistic approach to their profession. Michelle Williams’ Perspective As the academic facilitator/coordinator of an urban community college support program that exists to help students make a smooth and “seamless” transition from high school to college at one of the largest institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania, I must deal with a multitude of issues that surface when trying to provide a full and meaningful educational experience for students. One of the reasons this is so is the college’s diverse student population. Of the thousands of students enrolled at the college, about half are African American, approximately a quarter are Caucasian, and the other quarter is comprised of Paciﬁc Islanders, Spanish Americans, and Native American (College Facts, 2005). Thus, very often, race and culture become underlying issues in the educational process. Additionally, class and socioeconomic status can be issues as approximately half of all students receive some ﬁnancial assistance (College Facts, 2005). My speciﬁc scope of work, which involves coordinating a program in which college students are hired to tutor high school students in the School District of Philadelphia and tracking/ motivating/supporting college students in our support program, has become more demanding in that our students need advocates who understand their needs and meet them in their attempt to realize their needs. This task has become even more challenging because many of the students we service, in our speciﬁc support program at the college, need additional supports related to academics, cultural diﬀerences, and ﬁnancial constraints. As such, I ﬁnd myself trying to fulﬁll my work assignment by balancing my emphases. I must not only care about the college’s policies, requirements for courses, the student’s progress toward graduation, and the success of our support program, but also simultaneously care for and pay attention to the individual and his/her situation. In essence, investing in the student’s educational success requires that I invest in the student as a whole. In order to do that eﬀectively, I ﬁnd myself relying more heavily on the practices of critical reﬂection, disciplined inquiry, and constant evolution, which inevitably means that I am becoming a scholar-practitioner leader. Of utmost importance is critically reﬂecting both before and after making a decision, advising a student, planning a lesson or event, speaking with a student, parent, teacher or administrator, and so on. This is so because my support program requires that I interface with a variety of individuals both at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Additionally, most of the students that we service are ethnic minorities, and they are economically challenged. Therefore, the decisions that we make, in terms of our support program, have far-reaching eﬀects. For example, many of our students have heard 52
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams negative messages about their race and class so often that they have begun to believe that they are impoverished minorities, so they have little to no hope. For many of them, academic success is not an option. Consequently, many of the students already have low self-esteem and a negative self-image because of what they have been told for many years. Thus, often times, my comment or action could mean the diﬀerence between a student becoming more disillusioned, or becoming empowered despite her/his situation and making the decision to pursue his/her educational goals. Or the implementation of a programmatic plan, exercise, or policy could result in a student becoming jaded because of the curriculum’s lack of cultural relevance and a student being unable to participate due to ﬁnancial limitations. Therefore, it is imperative that I critically reﬂect on my speech and actions beforehand. Perhaps it is even more imperative when speaking with upper-level administrators that I critically reﬂect on the programs and funding that I advocate for on behalf of the students. I consistently entertain questions such as: Are the programs or proposals that I support and argue for going to be socially just? Will they be economically feasible for all of our students? Are they racially equalizing? Will the activities be culturally relevant? Additionally, after making a decision or taking an action, it is imperative that I assess it in order to evolve as a practitioner and administrator. Therefore, by critically reﬂecting on my actions, both before and after, I can better understand the implications for my students as they deal with both race and socioeconomics and their education while determining the reasoning and rationale for my own actions. Additionally, in order to be socially just and caring while simultaneously encouraging students to achieve academically in an urban environment, I have become more dependent upon disciplined inquiry. No longer is it appropriate for me to just do something because I know it works. Rather, I am engaging in research, networking, and critiquing in order to develop critically informed rationales for programs and proposals that are set forth in my work environment. For example, in order to coordinate an urban tutoring program that truly reaches the students on an academic and a human level, it is necessary to explore best practices, student perspectives, tutor perspectives, resources, teacher perspectives, and the practices of other support programs. I also have to take into account factors such as academics, interpersonal skills, cultural inﬂuences, skill level, and so on. Therefore, the use of critical inquiry is essential in order to enhance the students’ urban educational experience. More speciﬁcally, investigating various theories such as culturally relevant pedagogy, social mobility, cultural diﬀerence, identity formation, and socialization has improved my understanding of race and ethnicity as they relate to education. Furthermore, understanding quantitative information is becoming equally important as understanding qualitative data and various theories. My examination of theory, quantitative, and qualitative studies has certainly enhanced my overall 53
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education understanding of my students and their experiences. In essence, by utilizing critical inquiry techniques, I have been able to have a more inclusive and rounded understanding of race, socioeconomics, and education in an urban context. In essence, it is imperative that scholar-practitioner leaders exist in urban educational environments. This is so because we are in an era when there is an emphasis on improving student persistence rates, further diversifying the educational environment, and being caring while promoting academic excellence (Our Mission, 2005). We are also in an era where there are various factors such as race and socioeconomics that have an impact on the educational choices and achievement of students (Our Mission, 2005). It would seem that virtually all faculty and staﬀ would beneﬁt from incorporating critical reﬂection and critical inquiry into their professional practices, if they are not already doing so. Furthermore, as a developing scholar-practitioner leader, in addition to utilizing the aforementioned practices, I am also in a constant state of evolving or becoming. Although it is sometimes overwhelming to know that there is constant evolution and therefore, no apparent end, it is also very exciting to know that I am constantly learning about myself, my motives, students, education, race, culture, socioeconomics, and the like. Essentially, it seems that in my pursuit to evolve into a scholar-practitioner leader, I am always growing and becoming so that I can better help myself and the students that I service.
Scholar-Practitioner Leadership in a Climate of Standards and Accountability Thomas Conway’s Experience As a high school teacher, I’ve been very challenged in the urban environment by the current standards and accountability movement. PE&T’s mission is to develop in our students the skills needed to enter the electrical or technology ﬁeld after graduation. Students have all the necessary required courses to attend college upon graduation. The mission of the school could be beneﬁcial to many low SES students. However, because many of our students attended elementary school prior to the implementation of the current standards for math and reading, our school has faced the reality of not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status based upon the students’ scores on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests. The students are overwhelmed and so are the teachers because of the mandatory testing requirements that interfere with class instructional time. Historically, urban students do not test well on standardized tests, and my students are living up to that stereotype. The PE&T students have complaints about the PSSA tests. They grumble about how in the past they would take a test and nothing ever came of the scores. Now they feel the pressure to achieve at a new level of academic rigor. To gain their high school diploma, this new level of rigor is something that many of them never had to live up to in the past. Rigor is good but the pressure is wrong. There is so much anxiety created about 54
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams successful testing that on the actual test day the students exhibit signs of stress disorder. This past year, I had a grown boy, fearing the loss of a point, crying over having a mental block about using correct math terminology in open-ended questions. Because of the practice of social promotion to the next grade level, some of our current students never progressed above a ﬁfth- or sixth-grade level in mathematics and/ or reading. The 11th grade PSSA math test focuses on algebraic and geometric skills and some other areas of high school mathematics. If a student does not comprehend simple elementary computation skills, then how can that student ever move on to acquiring high school–level math skills? I believe it is an uphill battle for these remedial students and their teachers. To help remediate this deﬁciency, this past year I volunteered to help students recall geometry from the sophomore year for the PSSA test. During this review session, the junior American history curriculum was shelved in order to provide ample math review time. It was diﬃcult for me as an educator to make this leap. I had the dilemma of forsaking my subject in order to play the testing game. Is it really fair to compare one group of students’ scores to the next year’s class of students? I believe that it makes no sense to rate a school in this fashion, because each class has its own dynamic and personality. It would be better to track their growth from year to year and not from group to group. There may be beneﬁts to the standards movement, but the current penalties are too draconian at the onset for urban schools. Michelle Williams’ Experience As mentioned previously, as an academic facilitator, one of my major roles is to coordinate the tutoring project where I am charged with hiring, training, and overseeing college students who go to School District of Philadelphia high schools and tutor students in math and English. Initially, my job in the schools consisted of working with teachers to identify students who needed help in those subject areas and linking the appropriate tutor with that student or small group of students. However, more recently, in light of the standards and accountability movement, my job within the schools and as it relates to tutors is becoming more involved. This is so because no longer are the teachers and administrators requesting that the tutors meet students at their individual need or skill level, but rather they are requesting that tutors facilitate standardized test preparation workshops so students will perform better on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). In general, teachers and administrators are now concerned with improving their students’ test scores and thus, meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and other state-mandated requirements. As such, although I utilize critical reﬂection and critical literacy, in this particular instance, I have most often found myself utilizing critical inquiry. Because of the current standards and accountability movement, essentially my tutoring program has had to undergo a transition from tutoring, based on skill level, to 55
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education preparing students for a standardized exam. Therefore, the way in which I train tutors is diﬀerent. No longer can I just train tutors in acceptable tutoring practices and give them general information about students and the School District of Philadelphia; I must also relay information to them about the nature of the PSSA. In order to be eﬀective, the tutors must not only master their subject area but also the PSSA exam, its background, expectations, and the far-reaching implications tied to the exam. The tutors, who eventually evolve into trusted mentors for many of the students, must have a thorough understanding of this information so that they can relay that information to students in a way that they will comprehend and identify with. Now, not only do tutors address the pressures that students deal with that may be related to race and social class, such as violence, teen pregnancy, and substandard living conditions, but now they must address pressures that students feel about high-stakes testing. Additionally, because the way in which the students will be tutored is transitioning from individual tutoring, or very small group tutoring, into small learning communities, or whole-class instruction, the tutoring techniques I emphasize in training sessions must be modiﬁed. Furthermore, because of the emphasis on the PSSA, the tutoring resources purchased, such as textbooks and computer software, must also be augmented to meet that need. Due to the standards and accountability movement, critical inquiry has been crucial for me in terms of restructuring my tutoring program to meet the needs of teachers, school administrators, and students. For instance, I have been consistently inquiring about the best methods to prepare students for standardized tests without using excessive drilling and memorizing; instead, the aim is to prepare students by encouraging them to utilize critical thinking skills. Additionally, via seeking out both quantitative and qualitative studies, I have been able to better understand how to train tutors to relate to students in such a way that they are motivated to prepare for the exam and encouraged to continue on in school despite various challenges related to academics, race, and social class. In essence, critical inquiry has been imperative for me as I seek out ways to coordinate the tutoring program to meet the needs of the administrators while simultaneously meeting the needs of the students.
Conclusion The focus of this article was on scholar-practitioner reﬂections on the urban education contexts of race and social class in the current climate of standards and accountability. The argument has been presented that the complexity of urban education within these contexts presents a unique challenge for urban educators, and that urban educators who are becoming scholar-practitioners are better positioned to eﬀectively deal with the diﬃculties that they face. Thomas Conway spoke of the distrust of authority by some African American students in their interaction with teachers who are not African Americans. Based on his 56
Raymond A. Horn Jr., Thomas Conway, & Michelle Williams own experience, he proposed that these issues of trust and authority can be informed through the use of a critical literacy that aids the teacher in understanding the multiple relational levels that are in play within the student-teacher relationship that is embedded within this racial and social context. As Conway mentioned, also informing this issue of a distrust of authority between teachers and students of diﬀerent races and social levels are power issues that students bring to the classroom. He saliently points out that a teacher’s focus cannot be only on the mandated curriculum and standards but also must include the teacher’s understanding of the background of the teacher’s students. As a scholar-practitioner, he seeks a critical understanding, through the insights provided by academic journals, of the many forces that aﬀect the students’ learning. By engaging in critical reﬂection on the cultural and social backgrounds of his students, the scholarly information provided by academic journals, and his own experience, Conway is better able to move beyond the culture-blind approaches to education and provide a holistic pedagogical approach that increases the potential for a more just and caring educational experience for his students. In her narrative about her own urban experience, Michelle Williams captures the complexity involved in providing a full and meaningful educational experience for students. Noting the inﬂuence of race, class, and socioeconomic status on her fulﬁllment of this goal, Williams discusses the challenges presented by the multiple requirements of her educational position. Besides dealing with the academic diﬀerences, cultural diﬀerences, and ﬁnancial constraints of her students, as a scholar-practitioner, Williams understands the necessity to explore best practices, student perspectives, tutor perspectives, resources, teacher perspectives, and the practices of other support programs. Her critical awareness of these multiple contexts improves her understanding of race and ethnicity as they relate to her educational experience and the potential attainment of her goals. Williams presents herself as being in a constant state of evolving or becoming with the realization that there is constant evolution, and therefore, no apparent end. Both Williams and Conway have provided examples of the diﬃculties that are faced when teaching within an urban environment that is controlled by the external mandates of the current standards and accountability climate. Their experiences within this context are examples of how the experiential knowledge of educators often conﬂicts with the actions required by external mandates. Their commentary is interesting in that it informs our understanding of how scholar-practitioners can pragmatically engage these oftencontradictory demands. The essential point that can be taken from their experience is that without a critical literacy and awareness, the potential for a successful resolution of these contradictions remains problematic. As scholar-practitioners, Williams and Conway are aware of these contradictions and have the knowledge and disposition to take action that has the potential to help students succeed within this complex educational context. 57
Scholar-Practitioner Reﬂections on Urban Education As seen in the commentary by Conway and Williams, the demands placed upon urban educators in a standards and accountability climate continues to be a unique challenge for urban educators whose purpose is to provide an eﬀective, eﬃcient, and socially just and caring learning experience for their students. Being critically aware and having the disposition to take critical action does not guarantee the successful resolution of inequitable or uncaring educational situations. However, by having a critical awareness and literacy, scholar-practitioners can critically interrogate the false clarity of well-intentioned but simplistic attempts to provide socially just and eﬀective education. Through this interrogation, they can develop plans of action and work pragmatically to ameliorate the often-unintended socially unjust consequences of educational practice that occurs without the beneﬁt of the more holistic understanding that scholar-practitioners continuously strive to achieve.
References Brookﬁeld, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reﬂective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. College facts. (2005). Philadelphia, PA: Community College of Philadelphia. Retrieved July 25, 2006 from http://www.ccp.edu/site/about/facts.php. Giroux, H. A. (1994). Educational leadership and school administration: Rethinking the meaning of democratic public cultures. In T. A. Mulkeen, N. H. Cambron-McCabe, & B. J. Anderson (Eds.), Democratic leadership: The changing context of administrative preparation (pp. 31-47). Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Horn, R. A., Jr. (2006). Developing scholar-practitioner leaders in the urban education in crisis. In Kincheloe, J., Anderson, K., Griﬃth, D., & Hayes, K, Urban education: An encyclopedia (pp. 188-195). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Jenlink, P. (2002). The scholar-practitioner as bricoleur. Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly, 1(2), 3-6. Kincheloe, J. L. (1998). Critical research in science education. In B. Fraser, & K. Tobin, (Eds). International handbook of science education (pp. 1191-1205). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Kincheloe, J. L., & Steinberg, S. R. (Eds.). (2004). 19 urban questions: Teaching in the city. New York: Peter Lang. Milner, H.R. (2006). Preservice teachers’ learning about cultural and racial diversity: Implications for urban education. Urban Education, 41(4), 343-375. Mullen, C. A. (2003). What is a scholar-practitioner? K-12 teachers and administrators respond. Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly, 1(4), 9-26. Our mission. (2005). Philadelphia, PA: Community College of Philadelphia. Retrieved July 25, 2006 from http://www.ccp.edu/site/about/mission.php. Schön, D. (1983). The reﬂective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books. Zeichner, K. M., & Liston, D. P. (1996). Reﬂective teaching: An introduction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Schooling in India: Effects of Gender and Caste M. Gail Hickey, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, & Mary Stratton, Northern Heights Elementary School
Abstract Despite India’s free and compulsory education plan for all children up to the age of 14, a signiﬁcant percentage of rural Indian children do not complete school. A great majority of these unschooled children are girls. This article explores possible political, social, and economic explanations for the Asian Indian girl-child’s non-participation in formal schooling through immigrants’ narratives, educational reports, and ﬁrsthand observation in an Indian rural primary school. Analysis of data indicates class, caste, and gender socialization each contribute to the issue explored. The authors compare schooling issues faced by Asian Indian females to those experienced by American females, and suggest Asian Indian females may beneﬁt from access to privately sponsored schools designed with needs of the local population in mind.
Introduction At 16, Lalita is the only educated girl in her northern India community. Fourteen-yearold Akhari is the ﬁrst literate female in a 44-village area of southern India. Thirteen-yearold Manju brings shame to her family in Andhra Pradesh when she chooses to attend school rather than enter into an arranged marriage (UNICEF, 1998; UNICEF, 2005). In a country where a democratic government and constitution guarantee free education for all, how can this be? School districts in the nation of India document widely varying levels of achievement. Kerala, for example, boasts an almost 90 percent literacy rate while rural areas with high populations of Scheduled Castes or Tribes report literacy rates below 45 percent. The most recent national literacy estimate (2003) is 59.5 percent, or 70.2 percent for males and 48.3 percent for females (https://www.cia.gov/ cia/publications/factbook/geos/in.html#People). In all Indian states, females score lower 59
Schooling in India on literacy measures than males. Gender diﬀerences on literacy measures are even more pronounced in villages because girls are less likely to be enrolled in school (Sekhon, 2000, p. 107). The disproportionate percentage of unschooled girls is an ongoing challenge to India’s progress toward a literate population. Some progress has been made, but statistics continue to show startling trends. In some Indian states fewer than 30 percent of girls are enrolled in secondary schools, compared to 61 percent worldwide. Girls born in India are less likely to survive infancy: the 1991 Indian gender population distribution statistics (most recent available) show 20 million more males than females in rural areas, and 12.2 million more males than females in urban areas. Current statistics on school enrollment place Indian girls’ school participation at 44.1 percent (primary), 41.8 percent (middle), and 39.5 percent (secondary). School participation rates for girls are considerably lower in many rural areas. Forty-ﬁve districts in India report female literacy rates of below 30 percent (Mohanty & Nandakumar, 2005). Fewer than 40 of every 100 girls who enroll in school in rural India reach the U.S. equivalent of fourth grade, 18 will reach eighth grade, nine will reach ninth grade, and only one in 100 girls who enroll in school will make it to grade 12 (Noronha, 2003). By contrast, girls living in the United States are now more likely than boys to complete high school. According to the most recent data, among U.S. males and females aged 25 and older, 80 percent of males and 81 percent of females have graduated from high school (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2000). Public schools are provided tuition-free to all U.S. families, and students living in the United States are obligated to attend school until at least age 16. A strong ideology of equality across socio-economic and gender lines has been linked with high male and female graduation rates in the United States (Scott-Jones, 2002). What is it, then, that prevents Indian girls from going to school — or from staying in school once they enroll? India’s Constitution, established after the nation gained freedom from British rule in 1947, guarantees “free and compulsory education of a satisfactory quality for all children below 14 years” (Rao, Cheno, & Narain, 2003, p. 153). Like children in the United States, India’s children are constitutionally guaranteed the opportunity to attend school. Sixty years after India’s constitutional guarantee of compulsory education, however, Indian girls’ access to formal schooling continues to be a concern (Gupta, 2001). Critics of India’s government say constitutional allowances for free and compulsory schooling without substantive ﬁnancial backing or proper enforcement results in ongoing inequities (Mohanty & Nandakumar, 2005). Economists cite theories demonstrating that, as unemployment is addressed and the economy of a region grows, the years its citizens spend in formal schooling grow as well (Acharya, Baru, & Nambissan, 2001). 60
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton International experts in child development, however, believe interventions from outside organizations are needed before real change in India’s schooling will be eﬀected (UNESCO, 2004; UNICEF, 2005). Reacting to information provided by outside organizations, the United Nations created its Millennium Plan and set a 2005 deadline for international gender parity in primary education (UNICEF, 2005). In November 2005 it was revealed that 46 countries — including India — failed to meet the United Nations’ gender parity goals. Clearly, economic diﬃculties are not the only obstacle to equal schooling opportunities for India’s young female population. What factors contribute to gender diﬀerences in Indian schooling? What progress, if any, has been made toward girls’ schooling in Indian villages and rural areas in the 60 years since India’s independence? In this article, we use collaborative eﬀorts to explore these questions, to provide an intrinsic case study of one rural Indian school, and to compare American female students’ experiences with educational issues faced by Asian Indian female students. In the process, we oﬀer information illuminating gender issues in education for India and other developing countries, as well as provide comparative data regarding schooling practices in U.S. and Indian schools.
The Study Both authors are interested in schooling in India: Mary Stratton as a teacher and graduate student who has traveled in India, and Gail Hickey as a teacher educator who studies the educational experiences and socialization of Asian Indian immigrants. A small group of Indiana artists and educators (including Stratton) spent two weeks visiting several schools1 in eastern India during 2002. At approximately the same time, Hickey was involved in initial analysis of an oral history project conducted with Asian Indian immigrants residing in the Midwestern United States. Stratton was pursuing a graduate teacher education degree from a Midwestern university in 2002, and Hickey is a professor in the teacher education program there. We decided to embark on a heuristic phenomenological (Moustakas, 1996) exploration of contemporary schooling in India and related issues. Initially, we were interested in comparisons of Indian primary school and U.S. elementary school curricula. (In India, elementary schools are referred to as “primary” schools.) As the study progressed, however, other factors worthy of investigation were illuminated, including gender equity in schooling in both India and the United States, and public vs. private sector involvement in Indian education. This often happens with the approach we selected for our qualitative study. The heuristic phenomenological approach permits researchers to employ both descriptive and comparative strategies for investigation. Heuristic inquiry is a process that begins with a question or problem for which the researcher seeks understanding or illumination. Our question was “What 61
Schooling in India factors contribute to gender diﬀerences in Indian school enrollment?” In the heuristic approach, as the researcher seeks to fully understand the phenomenon under exploration, s/he invites other participants with related experiences to share in the investigative journey. For this phenomenological heuristic journey, Hickey invited Stratton, Stratton invited the founder of a private school in India, the founder invited the school’s principal, and the principal invited the teachers who joined us as our investigative journey continued. Finally, we supplemented the heuristic phenomenological approach with an intrinsic case study (Creswell, 2005) in order to provide speciﬁc information about schooling at a particular institution in rural India. Since each intrinsic case study is selected because “it is unusual and has merit in and of itself ” (Creswell, 2005, p. 139), we felt the selection of a private rural school in India would provide comparative data unlikely to be available from other sources. Our database initially included ﬁrsthand observation of student-teacher interaction at six schools in eastern India; more intensive observation of student-teacher interaction at one of the six schools (a private primary school in rural India); two interviews with the rural school’s founder; two interviews and several e-mail exchanges with the rural school principal; informal interviews and conversations with four teachers at the rural school and ten teachers from other data resulting from the school visits; and demographic data such as that available from school administrators, the India Census, and encyclopedia Web sites. Observational data were reported in the form of a narrative, while interview data were reported through journal entries, e-mails with school administrators, transcribed ﬁeld notes, and e-mailed lists of grade-speciﬁc instructional topics. Subsequently, we added a review of the literature on gender issues in schooling for both India and the United States and, where descriptive information or clariﬁcation of an issue was warranted, relevant excerpts from 90 oral history interviews conducted with Asian Indian immigrants in Indiana (see Hickey, 2006, for a broad description of the immigrant oral histories). The database has been updated and expanded over time.
India: An Overview Readers will beneﬁt from some basic information on the nation of India and its people. India gained its political independence from Great Britain in 1947. The nation has been referred to as “the world’s most populous democracy” (Helweg & Helweg, 1990, p. 21). India has a very large population, low individual income levels, and low literacy rates. According to the 2001 India Census, 1,027,015,247 people live within the nation’s 25 states and seven united territories. The sex ratio is 933 females to 1000 males. Average life expectancy is 64 years. India totals only 2.4 percent of the world’s land mass, yet 16 percent of the world’s population resides there (Government of India Statistics, 2001). 62
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton Modern India presents two faces to the world: pre-industrial and postmodern (Raina & Dhand, 2000). Some larger cities, such as Bangalore and Hyderabad, have been called the Silicon Valley of India, while much of the rural population lives in undeveloped villages and earns its living through agriculture. A sociological complexity of Indian life is the population’s caste consciousness. Despite legislation designed to lessen the impact of one’s social status on equitable treatment, social inequality continues to be widespread — including examples of caste-based discrimination in schools and classrooms. According to Rao, Cheno, & Narain (2003), middle-class Indians’ belief that “lower castes are not deserving of education is…deeply rooted [and] has hampered the universalisation of primary education” (p. 173). Some discussion of class and caste in India may be helpful here. Class refers primarily to economic class and, as such, is similarly conceived in both India and the United States. The phrases “middle class” and “upper class” tend to be associated with employment status and income. Sahni’s (1999) explanation of class in India connects middle class status with persons who hold oﬃce jobs, government positions, or teaching positions, while lower or backward class status is connected with persons who work as laborers, domestic servants, artisans, or who are “unemployed slum dwellers” (p. 135). Class in India is birth related insofar as one’s inheritance determines future opportunities. Movement from one class to another within one’s lifetime sometimes occurs. On the other hand, in India one is born into a caste, and possibility of movement from one caste to another does not exist. The caste system is quite complex, but a simpliﬁed explanation of Hindu castes will be suﬃcient for this article. There are four broad Hindu castes: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra (see Sahni, 1999, and Devi, 1998, for more detailed descriptions of the caste system). The Brahmans are the learned caste of scholars and priests; the Kshatriyas are the warrior and ruler caste; the Vaishyas are the commercial caste; and the Shudras make up the menial caste. The ﬁrst three of these are considered “upward castes,” while the fourth is considered the “backward caste.” There are degrees of “backwardness” within the Shudra caste; traditionally, the Shudras were considered “untouchable” and were prevented from seeking formal education. Recent government legislation reserved seats in government jobs and places in institutions of higher education for Shudras, but at the local level these former untouchables continue to be shunned. In villages, for instance, lower caste persons may not draw water from the same well as others; eat, drink, or take food from the hands of members of upper castes; nor may they marry into an upper caste family. Where caste interacts with social status, one’s opportunities are limited even further. As Sahni (1999, p. 135) reports, “One can go no lower in the social order than to be lower caste, poor, rural, and female.” Throughout India, girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling. The most recent State of the World’s Children Report (2003) notes the third lowest rate of 63
Schooling in India secondary school enrollment for girls is recorded in India; only Afghanistan and Bhutan have fewer numbers of girls in school. Some Indian states report female literacy rates as low as 30 percent. India’s most recent literacy measure is 65 percent for all adults (2001 India Census) and 56 percent for women, at a time when the literacy rate worldwide for persons 15 years of age and above is 79 percent (UNESCO, 2002). The 65 percent literacy rate for India is a signiﬁcant improvement over past measures: the 1991 India census reported a literacy rate of 54 percent, and 60 years ago only 18 percent of the population was literate.
Diverse Ethnicity, Similar Values India is a nation of diverse cultures, composed of three major racial groups (Indo-Aryan 72 percent, Dravidian 25 percent, Mongolian 3 percent), four prominent religious communities (Hindu 82.72 percent, Muslim 11.21 percent, Christian 2.6 percent, Sikh 1.89 percent), and 16 language categories (including English). Hindu values and belief systems provide an overarching unity of ideological principles for South Asia in general, and India in particular (Helweg, 2002). Despite such ideological unity, almost 60 years after independence India still struggles to balance democracy with an ever-present diversity that pulls the nation in profoundly diﬀerent directions (Ward, 1997). Interdependence, rather than individual independence, is valued most highly in Indian society (Lamb, 2000). A priority for commitment and subservience to the interests of extended family is deeply impressed upon children from infancy onward (O’Kelly & Carney, 1986). Preference for male children also is a dominant value (Dastider & Gupta, 1996). Informal learning plays an important part in a youngster’s development; older children (particularly siblings and cousins) as well as adults teach youngsters about their culture through song, dance, play, and conversation. Indian parents emphasize most often the virtues of obedience, politeness, and peaceableness (Mehra, 2004). A considerable body of research demonstrates that education is valued highly among all classes, castes, and religious groups in India (see, for example, Jayachandran, 2002; Sahni, 1998; PROBE Team, 1995). These studies verify a common perspective of schooling as a tool to “greater awareness, more access to information…higher status workplaces” (Sahni, 1999, p. 135). Education is viewed as a status symbol, both for the individual and for the extended family. Despite continued high levels of unemployment, education also is viewed as the family’s primary path toward ﬁnancial solvency (Sahni, 1999). In middle- and upper-class Indian families, parents expect to guide their children’s educational experiences and career preparation (Mediratta, 1999). Children consult their parents on such matters as educational majors, selection of university, and degree programs (Mehra, 2004). Parents at all class and caste levels expect their children to consult them regarding mate selection. In lower-income families, parents often arrange 64
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton marriages for their daughters while the girls are very young because married daughters are no longer a drain on the family’s ﬁnances. Indian parents stress high educational achievement while their children are enrolled in school. Mothers especially spend much time assisting children with schoolwork (Devi, 1998). Children are admonished to study hard, follow school rules and behaviors that lead to outstanding academic performance, and avoid distractions that may interfere with achievement and result in family dishonor. Indian parents of middle and upper socioeconomic standing consider providing one’s children with a “good education” (usually deﬁned as earning at least a graduate degree) an important parental duty. When their children perform well in school, the Asian Indian family’s prestige and status is enhanced (Mehra, 2004; Ahmed, 1999; Gibson, 1988). Gently guiding one’s child toward preferred occupations, such as becoming a doctor or an engineer, helps the student eventually bring honor to the entire extended family. Ilora says, “It’s very common in Indian family, you know, just to guide the children to a certain profession.” Nina adds, “I’ve noticed if you ask Indian kids in med school ‘Well, why did you go into medicine?’ they’ll say, ‘My parents wanted me to.’” Vipul recalls, “[My] choices for career from the end of elementary school were medicine, medicine, or medicine.”
Gender Issues In India, gender-based discrimination and exploitation including “female infanticide, dowry deaths, unequal wages, high levels of female illiteracy and morbidity” are widespread (Ghose, 2004, p. 21). Researchers cite the inverse relationship between low literacy rates, high fertility levels, and women’s low status (see, for example, Samanta, 2004). As a consequence of Indian women’s low status, education for daughters of the family is not always given the same emphasis as sons’ education. Informants in Margaret A. Gibson’s (1988) landmark study entitled Accommodation without Assimilation: Sikh Immigrants in an American High School admitted they took great pleasure in their sons’ educational accomplishments but “with daughters it is diﬀerent” (p. 111). Sons are valued for the status and wealth they eventually contribute to the family and for the likelihood they will care for parents in their elder years. Manjula’s 84-year-old father “will never be placed in a retirement home.” “The sons have to take care of the parents,” Manjula says. Whatever happens, “[an elder son] cannot throw the parents out.” Pramod agrees, adding, “In India, parents live with the son when they get old. There are no nursing homes.” While Gibson’s (1988) Punjabi informants felt pride in their sons’ education, however, parents tend to want their daughters to have only enough education “to obtain a ‘clean’ and secure job” (Gibson, 1988, p. 111). Ahmed’s (1999) review of the research on gender socialization in Indian families supports perspectives communicated by Gibson’s (1988) and our immigrant informants: 65
Schooling in India Boys are perceived to be the future caretakers of parents in their old age and prized as such. Girls, on the other hand, are understood to be temporary members of their own families — their primary roles and responsibilities will be as wives, daughters-in-law, and mothers in the families that they are married into (p. 40). Prior to their marriage, daughters living in rural areas have many home-based responsibilities. Women from rural areas are more likely to take salaried jobs to supplement the family income than their urban counterparts, and are less likely to have access to extended family networks for child care. Most working women in villages “have to leave their children at home, unattended, for the entire day” (Ghose, 2004, p. 22). When this happens, elder daughters assume responsibility for childcare and household management. This unpaid, home-based labor frequently prevents rural girls from attending school. Daughters of all ages and abilities routinely care for younger siblings and perform household chores such as cooking and laundry — often without electricity or labor-saving devices (Rao, Cheno, & Narain, 2003). Rural daughters also may be sent out to work to supplement the family’s income. Legislation prohibiting child labor in India exists but rarely is enforced, a situation further contributing to low rates of school participation. Family indebtedness can result in daughters being sold into bondage or prostitution (Women’s Coalition for Peace and Development, 2006). Parents resist governmental mandates and even pleas from outside sources to send their daughters to school, believing the family ﬁnances will suﬀer irreparably in the girls’ absence (Ramachandran, 2001). Girls in many parts of rural India who attend school for even brief periods often are withdrawn at adolescence as a way of ensuring their purity and of maintaining their reputations prior to marriage (O’Kelly & Carney, 1986). In India’s big cities, a larger percentage of middle class Indian women than ever before are completing college degrees and professional graduate programs (Yao, 1989). Comparatively few, however, use their training to pursue full-time careers. In Gibson’s study of Punjabi Sikh immigrants’ schooling experiences in California, adolescent daughters revealed their parents would not support their dreams of completing a college degree. The parents, these girls believed, would not permit them to go away to college. Moreover, the girls felt they would not be allowed even to attend college classes locally while continuing to live at home under their parents’ supervision, especially if their family determined the daughter’s behavior had deviated from that considered proper (1988, p. 134). Our data support the tradition that upper-caste daughters with advanced education improve their parents’ chances of arranging a successful marriage. (In this context, a successful match usually is deﬁned as ﬁnding a willing male from the same caste who has a promising ﬁnancial future.) Details of a young woman’s education often appear in classiﬁed advertisements placed by parents seeking a husband for their daughters (see, for 66
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton example, JeevanSathi.com). When an arranged marriage occurs after the young woman earns her college degree, however, the new wife may not be permitted to work outside the home — particularly in Muslim and upper caste Hindu families. An immigrant from a Muslim family who recently returned from a visit to India talks about her cousin’s advanced education, and her subsequent opportunities to pursue a career: She has a degree in economics. She is very intelligent. If she is allowed to, she will have a job. Over there, it is still not her decision. Her relatives, her husband, will have a lot to say in it. Over here, if a woman has a job, she doesn’t care what others say. She is a lot more aggressive about what she wants. “My mother had a degree in sociology,” Meera states, “but she did not work. She just went to school, got married, and didn’t work.” Meera herself got married while in graduate school and “did not pursue anything [for pay] after that.” When asked about her motivation for acquiring an advanced degree as a young woman in India, Preema said, “I didn’t have a motivation. That’s what [girls] did.” Pramod reﬂects on his life before emigration and concludes that, in India, “girls didn’t work.” In India, according to our data, young educated women who belong to higher castes (and usually higher socioeconomic groups) are less likely to work for pay after marriage. Researchers have found that young educated women from lower socioeconomic groups in the United States, by contrast, are less likely to work outside the home than are their middle-class counterparts (Latimer & Oberhauser, 2005). In India, an upper caste woman who works for pay may be perceived as having brought shame upon her entire family. An Indian woman’s behavior can negatively aﬀect her family’s status even after marriage. Manjula, a Hindu Indian, has lived in the United States for many years. When she visited India at the turn of the 21st century, male relatives insisted she revert to preferred female behaviors. If she behaved like an American woman while in India, her brothers told Manjula, she would bring dishonor upon her family’s status in the community and even spoil her nieces’ chances of making good marriages. Manjula explains, “My brother won’t let me get out from the house. The car comes, I stand on the porch, and then I get out of the house [with my brother as chaperone].”
Schooling in India India may be a young democracy, but it is a nation with ancient roots. Formal education in India originally was limited to males of the Brahmin caste. All females, and males of the other castes, were expected to learn all they needed to know at home (Pattnaik, 1996). Under Muslim rule in later centuries, education was oﬀered to males of all upper castes; females continued to be excluded from schooling. 67
Schooling in India British authorities who ruled during India’s Colonial period altered the traditional schooling structure to better suit the needs of the British empire. That is, Britishstyle schools provided education to local populations, who would then ﬁll lower-level administrative positions within the colonial governance structure (Raina & Dhand, 2000). Since British authorities considered males from upper-caste families most qualiﬁed to hold administrative positions, all females and those males from lower castes continued to be denied access to formal education during the early Colonial era (Sekhon, 2000). Shortly after, upper-caste families began to value schooling as a way to help daughters prepare for their roles as wives of administrators and mothers of administrators’ children. Illiteracy continued to be widespread among all persons of lower castes. The British began to build a foundation for India’s new system of formal education with the emergence of three aﬃliated universities in 1857. Existing primary schools were to be integrated and incorporated into a uniform system, which would channel students from primary to secondary schools and then on to university. Indian primary schools had originated as vehicles to prepare local populations for caste-mandated occupations, however, and the primary schools’ curriculum had never been intended to prepare students for secondary school. This situation posed a conﬂict, since indigenous cultural content existed conjointly (and often in competition) with reading and writing skills instruction. As Indian higher education became more ﬁrmly established toward the end of the 19th century, greater emphasis was placed upon reading and writing skills, with particular attention toward students’ English language competence (as, under British rule, English was the language of business). Locally valued curriculum gave way to reading and writing skills that would beneﬁt colonial administration. Raina and Dhand (2000) contend that, at this time in India’s history, “[Local] Educational policies were dictated by the requirements of running the empire rather than the welfare of the colonized masses.” Even now, India can be proud of its colleges and universities, but “a vast number of its primary schools are ill-equipped” (Maheshwari & Raina, 1998, p. 88). Once India became independent of British rule in 1947, more changes occurred in educational policies and curriculum. Individual Indian states held authority over educational policies between 1947 and 1976. A 1976 constitutional amendment transferred authority for educational policies from individual states to the central government. Today, the central government of India establishes broad education policies for curriculum development and for district/building-level management practices. These policies serve as guidelines for the states (UNESCO, 1996). Two policies provided landmark legislation leading to current schooling structure in India: the 10+2 curriculum pattern introduced in 1975, and the National Curriculum for Elementary and Secondary Education of 1988. The 10+2 policy refers to the recommendation students complete eight years of elementary education (ﬁve years of primary school and three years at the 68
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton upper primary/middle level), plus two years of general secondary schooling. Students whose centralized examination scores permit entry into the competitive upper secondary level are able to complete an additional two years of upper-level secondary schooling referred to as “general education,” while the ﬁnal two years of secondary school are known as the “diversiﬁed curriculum” (Yao, 1989). As Indian educational policy states, “The national curriculum envisages the ﬁrst 10 years of school as the period of general education and that the diversiﬁed curriculum should be introduced at the end of general education” (Government of India, 1998). In the six decades since the Indian Constitution was adopted, children’s access to primary-level education has increased dramatically. One goal from the World Conference Education for All (1990) was to increase rural children’s access to schools. The 1993 Sixth All India Educational Survey (NCERT, 1993) reported 94.45 percent of India’s rural population had access to some form of primary school within one kilometer of their village. Government representatives who met in 2000 to evaluate progress toward Education for All goals, however, proposed as a new goal that schooling facilities be “provided to girls nearer to their place of residence” and that free transportation to school be provided to girls “if [the school] is situated more than 1 kilometer from their homes” (Dhanarajan, 2001, p. 2). The management of India’s primary schools, however, depends upon a large number of agencies, both government and non-government. Establishment of a national curriculum for all levels of pre-collegiate schooling means the central government of India develops and provides curricula, syllabi, and instructional materials (including textbooks) for all schools; the location of school buildings and issues such as free transportation fall under the purview of individual states. The greatest challenge faced by the Indian education system is the nation’s continuing high rates of illiteracy. The nation’s uneven progress in educating its population is an ongoing concern. Traditionalists explain India’s persistent literacy problem as a two-pronged dilemma: ﬁnancial resources to cope with the nation’s dramatic population increase are lacking, and parents tend to withdraw children from school to assist with family needs (Tharoor, 1997). Critical theorists view the ongoing literacy problem as a situation fraught with complexity: many schools lack appropriate facilities, playgrounds, toilets, blackboards, commercial teaching materials, libraries, toys for younger children, and perhaps most startling of all, access to drinking water (PROBE, 1999). In fact, Delhi Education Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan recently told a group of parents that in many schools “students learn in dilapidated classrooms with creaky furniture, stationary fans, and aged blackboards,” and noted educational standards in India’s government-run schools were falling “due to the authorities’ lack of interest and response” (Ghosh, 2002, September 20 news report). Even parents who are motivated to send their daughters to the free governmentrun schools may be reluctant to do so. Not only are government-run schools limited 69
Schooling in India in their resources, as described above, they also tend to be built in or near cities. Girls, particularly those from rural villages who must travel or walk alone to reach the nearest school, may be kept at home as a means of ensuring their safety and chastity (Agarwal, 1991). Many Indian parents are opposed to coeducational settings where their preadolescent and/or adolescent daughters are obliged to learn side by side with males (Gibson, 1988). Sometimes it is not only the instructional setting these parents fear, but also the unstructured and unchaperoned environment occasioned by absent teachers. A description of a typical day at a public primary school located in an Indian village will suggest to readers the type of schooling experience most poor rural children can expect to receive: The Meos (local community in Mewat) want schools that function, and are properly equipped. Instead one ﬁnds broken chairs, peeling plaster…no toilets or drinking water. The schools are usually empty, with a few idling teachers who tell you the Meos do not value education. The villagers tell a diﬀerent story: teachers arrive [late] for classes that are supposed to begin at 7:30 a.m. Children come to school, play, then go away. Parents do not want children to idle around.... Though initial enrollment is high, retention rates after the lower primary levels are low. About 85 percent of girls are withdrawn after the lower primary level (PROBE Team 1999, 49). Three types of schools currently exist in India: government-run schools, government schools run by voluntary organizations, and private schools (Evans 2000, Pattnaik 1996). Administration and funding of individual schools may vary, but all schools have several characteristics in common such as expectations for teacher training, high student-teacher ratio, reliance on standardized examinations, and similarity of curriculum (Government of India, 1998). Private schools run by the Catholic Church grew in popularity during the Colonial period. Families who are ﬁnancially able to do so send their children to Catholic-run private schools. Private schools are more likely to provide appropriate facilities, some instructional materials, toilets and drinking water, lower student-teacher ratios, and curriculum suited to the needs of the local population. In addition, because private schools often are established to fulﬁll speciﬁc community needs, these schools are more likely to be located in or near villages rather than in city centers. Finally, those parents who plan to prepare their children for careers or specialized training believe the only acceptable primary and secondary education is available through competitive private schools, since these schools serve as stepping stones to the elite universities (Lessinger, 1995). 70
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton
An Intrinsic Case Study Clearly, major sociological and economic obstacles prevent many girls in rural India from participating fully in formal educational opportunities. Private schools located within or near villages, and oﬀering appropriate physical as well as instructional facilities, ﬁll the real and perceived needs of many local families. In doing so, these private schools help create opportunities for girls as well as boys to attend school. St. Xavier English School, a Catholic-sponsored institution located in rural eastern India, was established with the needs of the local population in mind. As was mentioned in an earlier section of this article, we decided to conduct an “intrinsic case study” of St. Xavier’s English School to provide speciﬁc information about schooling at a particular institution in rural India (Creswell, 2005, p. 139). St. Xavier’s English School is in Chiabasa, a small village in Jamshedpur located in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. While the Diocese of Jamshedpur was established in 1962, the Catholic Church has been active in the area for hundreds of years. The Bengal Jesuits of Calcutta initiated the ﬁrst Chiabasa church in 1868. The state of Jharkhand lies within the Chota Nagpur plateau and upland Santhal Parganas regions of South Bihar, and includes West Bengal, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh. The state’s population of 26.90 million (13.86 million males, 13.04 million females) is composed of 28 percent Scheduled Tribes and 12 percent Scheduled Castes (http:// www.Britannica.com). In some of the districts of Jharkhand, the tribal population is the predominate one. The average population per square kilometer is 274 persons, varying from a low of 148 to as many as 1,167 per square kilometer. Jharkhand is part of a geographical region previously known as Bihar. The Bihar region is the poorest area in all India. Poverty and malnutrition heavily aﬀect tribal groups and Scheduled Castes. Agriculture is the primary occupation for most of Jharkhand’s villagers, yet the average family land holding is less than ﬁve acres (Jewitt, 2000). Bihar’s literacy rate, at 46.94 percent, is the lowest in the nation, with male literacy at 60.32 percent and female literacy at 33.57 percent. Whereas 74 percent of Indian girls ages 6–14 nationwide attend school, only 54 percent of girls in Bipar attend school (India Census, 2001). Chiabasa, a village in the district of Jamshedpur, as has been mentioned, is the site of our case study. Jamshedpur encompasses 21,003 square kilometers, or about 13,051 miles, and has a population of approximately 1.6 million people. Jamshedpur’s urban population ﬂuctuates as a result of India’s ﬁrst private iron and steel mill, which is located there. Hindi and English are the predominant Jamshedpur languages, but in tribal villages such as Chiabasa the people speak Ho, Mundari, or Santhali. One college, a business school, enrolls 75 students. Seven senior secondary schools enroll 2,146 students. Seven high schools serve 14,920 students, and 43 primary schools serve a 71
Schooling in India total 16,560 students. Nine of the 43 primary schools were established by the Catholic Church. Together, these schools comprise the Jamshedpur school district (http://www. cbcisite.com/Jamshedpur.htm). In the city itself, life is comfortable due to 24-hour a day running water and access to electricity. A large portion of the population, however, lives in tribal villages some distance from the city center. These villages belong to Hos, Mundas, and Santhal tribes. Chiabasa’s population is largely of the Ho tribe. In these outlying villages, intermittent power outages, water shortages, and poor roads are common, and governmental response is virtually nonexistent. This is the setting for St. Xavier’s English School, with a 2002 enrollment of 692 students in standards 1–6. Mary Stratton, one of the authors, kept a journal while visiting six schools in eastern India during 2002. She wrote, “[The schools we visited] were always either boys’ or girls’ schools, with the exception of the English school — but even those classes were separated [by gender].” Stratton’s recent visit to India conﬁrms many gender issues identiﬁed in the literature are still very relevant to Indian women and girls today, such as families sending their young daughters out to work, other families keeping their school-aged daughters at home to maintain their chastity (in spite of India’s compulsory education laws applicable to students aged 6–14), the strong inﬂuence of a traditionally patriarchal social system, and the status attached to caste or tribal membership. Additional comments about these gender issues are found in the following excerpts from Stratton’s writings (below). Stratton states: We visited a woman that ... used to go to the English school. She was friends with the priests [who established the English school]. She invited us to [her home for] dinner. There was a little girl [of ] about 12 [years old] who worked and lived there, and prepared the meal. We were told she was sent by her family to work there… We heard that some families keep their daughters at home to protect them [rather than permitting them to attend school]… We [the women in the group] were taken care of while we were there, and decisions were made for us which I believe is customary in the Indian culture. Most of these decisions were made for our safety, which we could not understand at the time. We visited a tribe on the hillside. They live in the forest, and did not want to conform or learn a trade [for proﬁt]. Their women were fair game to be raped because of their caste… 72
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton One school Stratton and her colleagues visited in spring 2002 was St. Xavier’s English School, the school on which our intrinsic case study is based and the English school referred to in the excerpts above. Stratton’s ﬁeld notes and journal from that time provide a snapshot of her ﬁrst impressions of the visit to St. Xavier’s English School: Welcome parade to St. Xavier’s Hindi School
Marching review at St. Xavier’s Boy’s School
The children greeted us with the traditional Ho tribal welcome. This involved parades as we entered the school grounds, washing our hands or our feet, and showering us with ﬂower leis. They then entertained us with music, dancing, marching, and acting. This was only a sampling of the gracious Indian hospitality I was privileged to enjoy while visiting this community and its schools. I have gained a high respect for the people and their customs.
At St. Xavier’s English School, the minimum student-teacher ratio is 50:1. Any fewer students than that, Stratton notes, would cause the school to lose a teacher. On average, Indian primary schools have 2.8 teachers per 200 students (Maheshwari & Raina, 1998). “Sixty would be an average number of students found in a classroom we visited,” Stratton explains. While St. Xavier’s student-teacher ratio may seem high to U.S. educators, it still is considerably lower than the ratio at most other primary schools in India. Student behavioral referrals are rare at St. Xavier’s. The teachers feel that the students want to come to school, and students’ parents teach them to respect teachers as authority ﬁgures. These opinions were conﬁrmed by another educator who visited India’s private schools (Gupta, 2001), who noted behavioral referrals are low in Indian schools because “teachers, parents, and students are all part of a village family. Children are encouraged as well as reprimanded when needed by any adult member of the community” (p. 21). Teachers at St. Xavier’s feel free to leave their classrooms and chat with visitors. Stratton, who teaches in a U.S. school, is not comfortable leaving her students while she chats with colleagues. Her ﬁeld notes state: 73
Schooling in India We met with the faculty. I asked them where their students were. Totally unaware why the question was [being] asked, the answer was that they were in their classrooms and this teaches them responsibility. Our observation was, that in classes of about 60 students, [Indian students] were quietly sitting in their seats, waiting for their teachers to return. It was incredible!
St. Xavier’s Girl’s School
Immigrants who attended school in India before arriving in the United States agree with teachers interviewed that Indian students demonstrate greater levels of respect for their teachers than students in U.S. schools. Amy recalls that, during the time she attended school in India: We called all our professors “sir”…and you always said “Good morning, sir.” They may be six years older than you [but still you treated them with respect]. Power came with the position. It was so formal. When your teacher walked into the class, you stood up and wished them “Good morning,” even in medical school. Coming to grad school [in the United States], it was a total diﬀerent way of life, way of learning. That was very shocking to me that you could just go and say [to your professor], “How do you do this problem?”, that you could put your feet up [on the desk] in the classroom, [that you could] take tape recorders to class. It was just casual — you could come in and leave as you please. Students’ respectful behavior toward their teachers and each other is not the only diﬀerence between U.S. and Indian schooling. There are diﬀerences in the instructional decision-making process, and some diﬀerent subjects are taught in Indian schools. In India the curriculum is set by a central Education Department within the national government, while in the United States (within certain parameters) individual school districts are free to develop curricula for various grade levels. The subjects currently taught in standards one through six are English, Hindi, math, science, social studies, general knowledge, values education, crafts, and computer science. The levels are called “standards,” rather than “grades.” At St. Xavier’s, reading, writing, and speaking both 74
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton Hindi and English are stressed at the primary level (equivalent to elementary grades one through six). Because of multilinguality in India, educators have the challenge of selecting a language for teaching. During the early childhood years, the language of choice is usually the oﬃcial state language (Pattnaik, 1996). The teachers interviewed for this study told us Indian private schools, like the government-sponsored public schools, follow a centrally established curriculum. Teachers and principal alike told Stratton a Central Education Commission sets the school’s curriculum, or syllabus. The teachers and principal decide together on the material and books before presenting the curriculum to the students. At the beginning of the school term, teachers sit down together with the books and the curriculum and work together. For instance, all teachers teaching English in standards one through six would work together to see that the English curriculum is met. The data on government control of curriculum in Indian schools is supported by other researchers, who verify that curriculum is set centrally although teachers and administrators may choose the textbooks they prefer (Gupta, 2001; Sahni, 1999). Indian parents are responsible for the cost of each student’s textbooks. Stratton’s ﬁeld notes on school curriculum also explain that the [Indian] government does not interfere with the schools with the exception of following the proscribed syllabus. Most of the private schools are missionary schools, and are considered the best schools. St. Xavier’s English School is well known as being an exceptional school [locally]. St. Xavier’s school principal and teachers interviewed conﬁrm the curriculum is almost identical throughout the entire region. Certain textbook content, however, may diﬀer. Children around India could be studying diﬀerent curricula and items of interest to their own locale. Jamshedpur schools adopt the same syllabus and textbooks throughout the district because, as parents and school leaders agree, competition between and among students should be encouraged to promote high levels of achievement. The local schools provide competitions for many school subjects and activities. All primary schools in the Jamshedpur district — private as well as government-run — buy textbooks and have instructional materials printed together as a group to cut down on costs. Classes in Indian primary schools are not self-contained as is the normal practice in the United States. Bells signal the end of each 35-minute period, when teachers rather than students change classes. Each teacher has a subject specialty and also may teach another subject during the afternoon class periods. Teachers specialize in this fashion because it is more eﬃcient, and easier for the teacher to prepare materials and lectures. Each teacher, then, has the concentration and focus of only one subject to master in the primary grades. All lesson plans are submitted to the principal for his or her approval before the lessons are taught to the children. 75
Schooling in India Researchers have noted that, in many government-run schools in rural India, teachers arrive late or not at all (PROBE Team, 1999). Teachers at St. Xavier’s, on the other hand, arrive before 7:30 a.m. in order to begin the 15-minute daily assembly promptly at 7:40 a.m. The rest of the St. Xavier school day is structured in the following fashion: 8:00 a.m. First period 8:40 a.m. Second period 9:20 a.m. Third period 10:00 a.m. Recess 10:25 a.m. Fourth period 11:05 a.m. Fifth period 11:45 a.m. Second recess 12:05 p.m. Sixth period 12:50 p.m. Seventh period 1:30 p.m. Classroom cleaning 1:40 p.m. Dismissal assembly The above schedule is in keeping with schedules outlined in other studies on schooling in India. These studies show the average school day in India begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. (Gupta, 2001; Sahni, 1999). As Stratton’s ﬁeld notes attest, “Students go to school Monday through Saturday. The school year begins in June and ends in April. It is scheduled in this manner to avoid the scarcity of water, extreme heat, and other diﬃculties posed by the dry season. There are 62 holidays during the school year in which the students do not attend school.” Many of the 62 holidays mentioned in Stratton’s ﬁeld notes are holy days celebrated by one or more of the religious groups in the region. At St. Xavier’s, subjects taught during the seven periods of the school day include English, Hindi, mathematics, science, social studies, general knowledge, values education, crafts, and computer science. These subjects are taught throughout the six grades, or standards. Teachers in India’s primary schools are expected to stress reading, writing, and speaking in both English and Hindi. Because English, Hindi, and mathematics are considered the most important classes, students are exposed to these subjects during the ﬁrst three periods of the day. After recess, subjects such as geography, history, and physical or life science might be taught, with variations found within each standard or grade. Following the second recess of the day, subjects considered to be of lesser importance (acting, music, crafts, art, ethnic games) are taught during the afternoon. Unlike teachers and students in many public schools in India, those at St. Xavier’s English School have access to a variety of teaching supplies and instructional aides. These include maps, a globe, teacher-made charts (to explain various points, such as the lifestyle of early man, historical and technological developments, historical events, mountains, 76
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton portraits, etc.), an atlas, and models. Televisions and VCRs are rare; a few classrooms might come together in one large room to be able to use these teaching tools. Electrical power is not always available or reliable, according to teachers interviewed. The lack of dependable electricity causes problems when teachers plan to use televisions or show ﬁlms in the classroom. Field trips are a common way for students to travel locally and learn about many diﬀerent things from their region. Educators and parents in India perceive the process of assessment of subject area learning diﬀerently from those in the United States. Student progress at St. Xavier’s is assessed through an examination system. Three standardized unit tests and three standardized terminal examinations are conducted regularly per student. Report cards show unit and terminal examination scores for each subject, along with the grade for that subject and a grade for behavior. Schools in India, like those in Great Britain, are examination driven. Each student is tested rigorously over content multiple times each school year, and must pass a standardized examination annually. Students who do not pass these annual exams do not progress on to the next standard, or level. Examination scores determine students’ career paths beyond the 10th standard; exams also determine to which university students may eventually apply. According to Raina & Dhand (2000), the annual examination — a practice left over from the Colonial period — determines the curriculum set by central government, which in turn “encourages rote learning in the students and discourages teachers from trying new ideas or pedagogies” (p. 88). Pressure to achieve high examination scores motivates students to memorize huge bodies of information without understanding it or being able to apply what they have learned (Raina & Dhand, 2000). In the United States standardized testing is commonly used to assess students’ progress in the elementary grades; however, U.S. students are not currently placed into career tracks or admitted to universities based solely upon these early test scores. Sunit, an immigrant from India, explains the place of examinations in Indian students’ schooling experiences from his perspective as a student in a private boarding school for males: It was highly competitive. At the sixth grade, we took [an exam] from Cambridge University in England. And then we were ranked according to it, and right there in the sixth grade we were broken up into three diﬀerent departments: the group called a pure science group, the group that was called technical, and the group that was called the humanities. So they channeled me into what’s called a pure science group because of my scoring on that very competitive test. Now that carries on right up to the ninth grade, where they start to channel you again on the basis of another competitive test, to see if you’re able to continue your performance. 77
Schooling in India Aside from the examination-driven career tracking model, other major diﬀerences between U.S. and Indian schooling include ﬁerce competitiveness for university admission in India, the high degree of respect shown Indian teachers, teacher-directed instruction (India) rather than discussion or group activities (United States), and the Indian practice of separating extracurricular activities from the school itself. Educators from the United States who have spent time observing in Indian schools conﬁrm these diﬀerences (see, for example, Evans, 2000; Raina & Dhand, 2000). Despite government calls for teachers to “adopt child-centered, activity-based teaching and learning experiences at the primary level” (Maheshwari & Raina, 1998, 88), research shows the majority of teachers in India continue to favor a teacher-directed, lecture-dominated approach. In one study, 86 percent of teachers studied used lecture exclusively. Some authorities attribute teachers’ reliance on lecture to the permanence of tenure in government-funded schools (teachers in India are employed for life), and the lack of teacher-accountability systems (Raina, 1999). Our data indicate that many of St. Xavier’s teachers subscribe to a child-centered instructional model. Most of St. Xavier’s teachers incorporate an activities-based approach to learning. According to Father Fernandes, St. Xavier’s founder, schooling at St. Xavier’s English School today diﬀers from his own Indian schooling experiences in the following ways: “[When I went to school] the teacher would read from the book and then explain the material. Things have changed since then. There are more activities involved with student learning [now]. Today’s education is better.” The principal at St. Xavier’s English School, Sister Corona, also commented on how Indian schooling has changed in recent years, saying, “The school is diﬀerent in many ways compared to [times past].” Changes noted include the interaction of teachers and students, which Sister Corona believes, “has become friendlier. This helps the students perform well in their studies and helps [them better understand] diﬀerent subjects.” St. Xavier’s principal and teachers also mentioned other changes in Indian schooling they have observed, such as the inclusion of extracurricular activities on the school grounds, the addition of computer science to the curriculum, and having a library and computer laboratory at the school. “I believe these changes are positive,” reasoned Sister Corona, “because it helps the students to acquire all-round development of their personality rather than acquiring only bookish knowledge.” Interview and anecdotal data about teacher training in India support data found in the literature (Maheshwari & Raina, 1998). Stratton summarized St. Xavier teachers’ comments in her journal: To become an elementary teacher in India, the required training would be the teacher’s training course (TTC), and for high school teaching you would get a B.Ed. This requirement is the same all around India. 78
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton A precise look at [Indian teachers’] educational requirements would show a completion of one to six for elementary. They would next go to middle school with standards seven and eight and then high school with standards nine and ten. At 10th grade, they would have to pass the ﬁnal exam to be able to graduate. They would attend a junior college, which we [in the United States] might call grades 11 and 12. At this time they would select a specialization, which they study for three years. We might call this grades 13, 14, and 15 to help compare this to American school years. (Remember, even elementary students receive specialized teachers for every subject.) The ﬁnal schooling involves two [additional] years for the master’s in education. Each teacher is required to graduate with a master’s in education before they begin teaching. If American teachers needed to earn their master’s degree prior to teaching, the years of schooling required for teacher preparation would be the same in both India and in the United States. Teachers and school leaders at St. Xavier’s English School discussed educational reforms from the past several years in India, and oﬀered their opinions about whether these reforms have been successful. While their comments do not speciﬁcally address gender concerns, we believe these educators’ perspectives supply information not available elsewhere. Some examples of comments on educational reform from our informants include: Educational reforms take place from time to time in India. Changes to the syllabus [curriculum] are made that are appropriate to the local situation or to ﬁndings from examination scores. A major change we have observed involves the move from academic education to wholechild education. In the past, for example, the schools provided only curriculum-based, or academic, education. Today we see all-round development of the student stressed. Some resulting changes include celebrations of important national and religious holidays, the addition of values education and health/hygiene education. Also, a hands-on learning method is emphasized now rather than a strict lecture approach. Going farther back, the inclusion of English language learning in the curriculum of all schools is now viewed as an important educational reform. Whereas 20 or 25 years ago English language learning began at the ﬁfth standard, it is now required from the ﬁrst day of school. “There are Indians living in the United States today who have beneﬁted from receiving background in English from their schools,” Father Fernandes explained. “I did 79
Schooling in India not have the opportunity to learn English until I began to study for the priesthood.” Stratton observed preschool children speaking English during her 2002 visit. “They were taught nursery rhymes and songs to prepare them for formal English instruction,” she noted. As has been mentioned, St. Xavier’s 2002 enrollment was 692. Five years later, Pre-kindergarten school in Jamshedpur enrollment at the school has increased to 1,187. Boys continue to outnumber girls at St. Xavier’s, with 717 boys to 470 girls. These ﬁgures represent a 30 percent increase in female student enrollment during the past ﬁve years, say school leaders. According to Father Fernandes and Sister Corona, 93 percent of the 470 girls currently enrolled can be expected to complete six years of formal schooling at St. Xavier’s. A recent survey of staﬀ and students indicates 92 percent of girls completing standard 6 at St. Xavier’s intend to go on to middle school. School administrators and teachers credit several circumstances with these positive changes in school attendance by girls in the past ﬁve years; speciﬁcally, Sister Corona and St. Xavier’s teachers say the following have helped to create positive change for the Indian girl-child: Awareness and motivational classes created through guidance seminars conducted for the parents and guardians [of girl students]. The continuous infusion of values systems inoculated through motivational seminars and classes [for girl students]. More and ample chances given to girls for developing their talents and leadership skills. When asked to describe what they believe to be the greatest obstacles to girls’ formal schooling in Chaibasa, St. Xavier’s teachers emphasized the “lack of willingness and awareness among parents about girls’-children education.” Finally, in late 2006 St. Xavier’s educators noted major obstacles to the girl-child’s formal schooling in eastern India include parents’ beliefs concerning “girls [being] subject to men,” and society’s acceptance that “girls [are] meant to be at home taking care of the children and family needs.”
Conclusion This study adds personal Asian Indian educators’ narratives to the research base on multicultural and comparative education. These narratives, combined with oral history 80
M. Gail Hickey & Mary Stratton narratives by Asian Indian immigrants in the United States and an intrinsic case study of a rural school in eastern India, permit us to illuminate issues and circumstances aﬀecting Asian Indian females’ educational experiences. Through classroom observations, interviews, e-mail exchanges, and informal conversations with school administrators and teachers in private schools in eastern India, through targeted observations and interactions with school administrators and teachers at St. Xavier’s English School in rural India, and through oral history interviews with Asian Indian immigrants to the United States, we allow readers to hear individual Asian Indian voices, hopes, and dreams against a backdrop of class, caste, and gender stratiﬁcation. By so doing, we provide readers with an opportunity to view the concepts of schooling and gender socialization through a diﬀerent cultural lens, to compare Asian Indian and American educational experiences, and encourage educators to think about education from a global perspective. Like their counterparts in the United States, both boys and girls in India have access to formal schooling and are legally obligated to attend school. The Indian Constitution now includes the expectation that all children will attend school, yet the government has not provided funds to build schools suﬃcient to accommodate all students. In the United States, 81 percent of girls graduate from high school, compared with 80 percent of boys. Females from lower socioeconomic groups in the United States are less likely to be actively engaged in the workforce, while higher-caste females in India are less likely than those from lower castes to be engaged in the workforce. Literacy is directly linked to formal schooling. In 2002, when the latest ﬁgures became available, 86 percent of U.S. males and 75 percent of U.S. females were literate (http://www.earthtrends.wri.org/ pdf_library/country_proﬁles/Pop_cou_840.pdf, retrieved on January 15, 2007). In India, current literacy rates are 70.2 percent for males and 48.3 percent for females. In some of India’s rural areas, only one girl in 100 can expect to graduate from high school. Sister Corona, the principal of St. Xavier’s English School and one of the informants in this study, says while India has many schools, there still are children in India who have never seen a school and have never learned to read or write. This, Sister Corona believes, is due to pervasive poverty and to certain social customs found in India. Based on our review of the literature, careful consideration of recent educational reports from India as well as from international organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF, and on supporting documentation by recently arrived Asian Indian immigrants to the United States, we agree with Sister Corona’s observations. Moreover, we are convinced Indian girls’ access to formal school and their motivation to complete the formal schooling process will be enhanced through continued establishment of privately funded schools in rural areas — especially when regional needs are taken into consideration. The Indian government has taken steps intended to improve girls’ access to schooling, including guaranteeing free and compulsory education for all persons under the age of 81
Schooling in India 14 in its Constitution. At the state and local level, as Sister Corona indicates, change is not as evident. She and others at St. Xavier’s believe social forces as well as political agendas continue to circumvent Asian Indian girls’ access to schooling. “There is a lack of willingness and awareness among parents about the girl-child’s education,” Father Fernandes explains. “The parents have an attitude that, in the future, a girl-child will not be earning [money] for her parental family — so why waste money on her [education]?” Other informants agree with Father Fernandes’ explanation. “The attitude among parents [is that] girls [are] subject to men,” one of St. Xavier’s teachers adds. “[Society teaches that] girls are meant to be at home,” another states. These statements made by our informants in 2006 are in agreement with our literature review. For example, Mohanty and Nandakumar (2005) write that parents from each Asian Indian socioeconomic class frequently voice the sentiment “Why educate girls? They will be married” (http://www. edjournal.net/000001.html). Other researchers note that because Asian Indian daughters leave their natal families upon marriage and become human capital for their husbands’ families, parents are reluctant to invest resources toward a daughter’s formal schooling (Rao, Cheno, & Narain, 2003; Tharoor, 1997; Gibson, 1988). In the absence of wider structural change, such as enforcement for compulsory education legislation in India, current measures alone are insuﬃcient to empower girls and women. At the time of this writing, Indian legislation fails to address socially imposed causes of male-female discrepancies. The deep socio-cultural and political structures that restrict females’ mobility and access to knowledge must be examined and understood as powerful obstacles to women’s development in a developing democracy. Without such critical consideration, the education of women and girls in many parts of the world will continue to suﬀer.
Schools visited, in chronological order, include St. Xavier’s Boy’s Middle School (80 percent tribal), St. Xavier’s Girl’s School (80 percent tribal), St. Xavier’s English School (coeducational, with special emphasis on English language), Jen Vikas Kendra People Development Center Cheshire Home for the Orphaned Handicapped, a preparatory preschool (no name given — prepares 4- and 5-year-olds from elite families for acceptance into the most competitive primary schools), and St. Robert’s School. All school locations were within a two-hour drive of Jamshedpur.
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scholarlypartnershipsedu--A biannual peer-reviewed research journal coordinated by the IPFW School of Education.
Published on Feb 13, 2019
scholarlypartnershipsedu--A biannual peer-reviewed research journal coordinated by the IPFW School of Education.