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ERIC Number: ED522752
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 246
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-7346-1
How White Teachers Experience and Think about Race in Professional Development
Marcy, Renee
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
The public educational system in the United States fails to proficiently educate a majority of African American, Latino/a, and students from low-income backgrounds. Test score statistics show an average scaled score gap of twenty-six points between African American and White students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). The term "achievement gap" and the use of test data indicators of student performance, however locates the problem in students and with student group underperformance rather than in school system factors that contribute to educational inequity. Critical race theory scholars in education effectively argue that the discrepancies between groups in the educational system reflect the imprint of societal race, racism, and power insidiously operating in schools (Howard, 2008; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). A research agenda to examine racism, class-ism and race in education has been introduced as necessary to catalyze a radical shift toward educational equality (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Lynn, Yosso, Solorzano, & Parker, 2002). Teachers' beliefs about students impact achievement and often originate from a deficit view of students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Racial and ethnic bias is often not discussed publicly in schools among teachers (see Pollock, 2004a). A process is needed to encourage teachers to talk about race. Critical studies of school-directed processes to encourage teacher dialogue about race are necessary. In this study, participatory action research with a critical race analysis of teacher race dialogue in professional development illuminates the insidiousness of racism. The goal of this study is to contribute to what is known about how race and racism operate through teachers' experience in schools with the hopeful intention of contributing to equity-focused solutions. In particular, this study methodology employed participatory action research coupled with critical teacher research (Morrell, 2008). I used ethnographic means of participant observation of race discussion sessions, 10 semi-structured interviews with elementary school teachers, and document analysis. I employed the tenets of critical race theory in education to inquire into teachers' experience with a race focused professional development program and analyze teachers' thinking about race and racism through the process. Interview questions were adapted directly from recommendations for critical reflection (Milner, 2003). A rubric to measure critical reflection was created from Howard (2003) to support data analysis. The study examined how teachers experience a race focused professional development, describe their thinking about race in this process, and describe their process of critical self-reflection. The charter school was chosen because it is high performing on average with a 30-point equity gap in achievement scores between students of color and white students. Twenty-eight K-11 teachers and staff participated in the race dialogue sessions, and of the eleven K-5 teachers (100% white), ten participated in interviews for this study. The school directors' attempt to engage teachers in race dialogue is documented. A Critical Race Theory analysis showed that racism persisted and teachers' thinking was racialized despite a school attempt to engage teachers in reflection about race. Examples of white privilege permitted teachers' passive resistance to participation in the discussion. Teachers marginalized the race discussion. These teachers expressed racial contradictions and double standards about race and espoused deficit thinking about families of color in private. Consistent racial contradictions and double standards about race provided insight into how teachers' thinking maintained the status quo. The racial contradictions present in teachers' thinking also suggest that this marginalization of race is an unconscious process of prioritization of white values and perspectives over the values or perspectives of people of color. I recommend that teacher education include explicit instruction in the tenets of Critical Race Theory. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States