Recently, there has been a resurgence in research and policy surrounding U.S. education’s demographic imperative, or the “browning” of K12 students and the “whitening” of teachers. Teacher education has largely responded to this “diversity gap” with research that supports white teacher candidates’ racial identity formation and cultural competence. Policy and reform efforts from within and beyond teacher education tend to frame solutions for the “diversity gap” as inclusion and representation (recruiting more teacher candidates of color) and/or to create more robust and critical university-based teacher education programs (against the upswing in fast-track labor market approaches to preparation). There are fewer examples that critically reflect on and explore how teacher education, as an institution, excludes and marginalizes people of color. Using a critical bricolage methodological approach that includes institutional ethnography, participatory activist research, and feminist memory work, I study the diversity gap from multiple positional perspectives within and beyond the institution. First, I draw from a year-long collective memory work study with a teacher candidate of color during the course of her program. Framed within an analysis of the ways in which neoliberal logics guide the structure and practice of institutions of teacher education, I consider the ways in which alliances and ethical practices of subversive study across institutional hierarchies can contribute to challenging the institutional reproduction of whiteness in teaching. Next, I explore the specific needs and desires for indigenous immersion teacher preparation that can support Ojibwe language revitalization from two years of ethnographic research with Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia, a non-profit organization that develops Ojibwe language texts and curriculum. I challenge the institution’s selective inertia with respect to indigenous-led efforts toward educational self-determination and illuminate tensions between “diversity gap” solutions that argue for inclusion and access without mention of decolonization. Finally, I shift to the landscape of urban education in the Twin Cities and the work of the Social Justice Education Movement, a directly democratic education union of which I am a co-founding member. While we have undertaken a variety of issues and work in social justice education, I focus in on our short-lived campaign to demand the districts support more staff and teachers of color. Racialized tensions articulated through our organizing forced us to rethink our initial demands for inclusion and broaden and challenge our collective understandings of what kind of education we were fighting for. Our collective, movement-embedded study of who engages un/misrecognized and institutionally devalued educative work further illuminates the need to re-think the category “teacher” and processes of state certification/legibility. Taken together, these three angles, or what I term “positional perspectives” enable me to argue for a paradigmatic shift in the ways in which critical teacher educators articulate the problems with and solutions for the “diversity gap” in teaching. I conclude with a series of questions and provocations to consider how teacher educators can de-link from their investments in the profession and its management of knowledge authority, and contribute more effectively to movements for decolonial futures.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2016. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Bic Ngo. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 224 pages.
The Fight for the Right to Teach: Mapping the Terrain of the Diversity Gap" in Teacher Education".
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