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ERIC Number: ED523253
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 225
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-3209-3
Moving beyond Black History Month: How Three Teachers Interpreted and Implemented the New Jersey Amistad Legislation
Baptiste, Steffany A.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
Problem: Since abolition of slavery, the United States has struggled to recognize people of color, specifically African-Americans, as equal citizens worthy of equal education. For several generations, within the curriculum of American schools, students have been taught the narrative of American History with a Eurocentric perspective. However, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s motivated various leaders, researchers, and scholars to question the validity of this narrative. Through debates, reforms, and legislations, there has been a demand for the contributions, achievements, and perspectives of people of the African Diaspora to become parallel to the European narrative. Although research and academic literature examines the need for the inclusion of multiple perspectives within the history curriculum, few studies go in depth about the perspective of history teachers on mandated curriculum related to the inclusion of race and race relations within the history curriculum. There remains a need to explore the perceptions teachers have about these legislations and the methods used within the classroom to successfully implement these reforms. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine how three New Jersey history teachers interpreted the New Jersey Amistad Bill and how they considered their context when implementing this mandated curriculum within their class lessons. Purpose: Based on the guidance of a pilot study that focused on one teacher's perception of the New Jersey Amistad Bill and the consideration of the educational approaches of Ethnic Studies, Africana Studies, and Multicultural Education, this research sought to understand how New Jersey secondary teachers perceived the Amistad legislation and the purpose and recommendations of the Amistad Commission. This project allowed teachers to challenge their present pedagogy by providing a format for them to examine how their educational and racial past might influence their teaching experiences. Based on the literature review, the research will consider the role of Ethnic Studies, Africana Studies, and Multicultural Education, the three theoretical and educational approaches to the incorporation of race within the history curriculum, to better understand how to implement the Amistad Law. Research questions: In an effort to understand how this legislative change of the New Jersey Amistad Bill impacts schools and classrooms, this research study was guided by the following research questions: (1) How do three New Jersey public school teachers interpret the Amistad Bill? (2) According to the teachers, how has the New Jersey Amistad Commission and the professional development provided by the commission supported them? (3) What approaches are these three teachers using as they attempt to implement the Amistad legislation? (4) What are the similarities and/or differences in the interpretation and implementation of the Amistad Bill between these three teachers? Methodology: In this qualitative study, I used a case study methodology to explore three schools selected based on their demographics: predominately Black, predominately White, and diverse settings. One teacher per school, who attended the New Jersey Amistad Summer Institute--a professional development opportunity provided by the state during the summer of 2006--participated in a total of two interviews, completed a five journal entries, and was observed for ten class sessions. Interview, observation, journal transcripts, field notes, and documents were coded based on the research questions and across the cases based on patterns. Through the application of theoretical analysis procedures, assertions were noted and themes were identified within the study. The use of triangulation within the data collection and data analysis processes was used to establish reliability and validity for this study through the use of multiple data collection methods, the inclusion of direct teacher and student quotation, and the use of member check by the teacher participants. Findings: This research revealed how three New Jersey history teachers were able to implement the mandated curriculum of the New Jersey Amistad Bill within their respective classrooms: by being self-aware of the need to include the perspective of Africans and African Americans within the history curriculum, by being willing to increase their knowledge base of African and African American history, and by being responsive to the needs of their students. Each teacher was aware of the role of race and race relations not only within their past experience but also within the community in which they taught and their own classrooms. Because of this awareness, each teacher developed a level of comfort with the expectations of the Amistad Bill, x a willingness to continue to educate themselves, and a dedication to adjust the curriculum to respond to the needs of their specific students. Significance: This study examined how legislated change impacted how three teachers implemented the New Jersey Amistad Bill within their classrooms. Acknowledging the lack of research about how to incorporate discussions of race and race relations within predominately white, predominately black, and diverse classrooms, this study has direct implications to teacher education, practicing teachers, and policymakers. Pre-service teachers must become aware of the law and its requirements and be exposed to the supporting resources. With administrative support, practicing teachers should be required to attend workshops that address the complexity of race, help them examine their own perceptions, become more aware of the legislative requirements, and learn how to understand the needs of their students. Finally, policymakers should provide administrators and teachers with concrete and virtual resources as well as mandated workshops. Therefore, this study addressed the multiple gaps in the literature as well as provided significant information about effective implementation designs relevant to the New Jersey Amistad legislation. [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: Adult Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey