ERG SES D 01, Parallel Session D 01
What does it mean to be white in nations that are increasingly black and brown? What is the role of European teachers in urban schools with growing numbers of non-European students? The United States and multiple countries are experiencing influxes of immigrants who are not of European descent (Banks, 2008; Unites States Department of Education, 2011; Villegas & Lucas, 2002). In the U.S., non-white citizens are projected to equal the number of white citizens in 2045 (Henderson, 2000). The U.S. is also experiencing growing numbers of European American teachers who comprise a disproportionate 90% of the teaching force (Cornbleth, 2008; Sleeter, 2001). Likewise, continued influxes of Turkish populations to Germany, Algerians to France, and African-Caribbeans to Britain prompt these countries to pose similar questions about how best to handle the opportunity, not challenge, of our demographic shifts.
Traditionally, the U.S. has handled such questions regarding population change and the education of non-whites in urban settings less well than our European counterparts. We have framed the influx of non-European citizens as: 1) a challenge, not opportunity, 2) a minority, not majority problem, and 3) a costly, unwanted investment (Leonardo, 2009; Feagin, 2010). To continue as thriving, globally competitive countries, the U.S. and other European nations must reframe the dialogue about urban education and the preparation of teachers for urban schools in far different terms (Banks, 2004; Spring, 2009). If we are to survive as societies that welcome growth, advancement, and national security, we must embrace more critical semantics and fundamentally upturned paradigms, practices, and policies in urban education.
In pursuit of more global viability in the U.S. and other countries, I conducted a two-part study within a larger “expertise research” tradition aimed at determining best practices in urban education and urban teacher education. The research was guided by critical race theory and culturally relevant pedagogy. Critical race theory considers the endemic nature of racism in the structures of societies (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Educational researchers in the U.S. (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2006) and Europe (Gillborn, 2005) use this theory to examine the underachievement of urban students in multiracial countries. Similarly, culturally relevant pegagogy (Ladson-Billings) is a pedagogical approach aimed at helping teachers produce academic excellence, cultural pride, and critical consciousness in all students. Both theoretical frameworks provide the underpinnings of this research, which focused on these questions:
1) How do European American educators conceptualize race, whiteness, and culturally relevant pedagogy in urban education?
2) How are European American educators’ conceptualizations of race, whiteness, and culturally relevant pedagogy manifested in their teaching practices?
3) What are the life experiences that inform European American educators’ conceptualizations of race, whiteness, and their commitments to antiracism, multiculturalism, and urban education?
Drawing on the literature, scholarship, and practices of the U.S., Great Britian, Germany, and France, I address key questions about how to prepare educators of European descent for urban schools and reframe our international views of urban education altogether. The U.S. and many European countries stand to benefit from the findings.
Arnove, R. E. & Torres, C. A. (2003). Comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (Eds.). (2004). Handbook of research on multicultural education (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Cornbleth, C. (2008). Diversity and the new teacher: Learning from experience in urban schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press. Feagin, J. (2010). The white racial frame: Centuries of racial framing and counterframing. New York, NY: Routledge. Gillborn, D. (2005). Education policy as an act of white supremacy: Whiteness, critical race theory and education reform. Journal of Education Policy, 20(4), 485-505. Henderson, G. (2000). Race in America. In L.G. Baruth & M.L. Manning, Multicultural counseling and psychotherapy: A lifespan perspective (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. F. (2006). Toward a critical race theory of education. In A. D. Dixson & C. K. Rousseau (Eds.), Critical race theory in education: All god’s children got a song (pp. 11-30). New York, NY: Routledge. Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Leonardo, Z. (2009). Race, whiteness, and education. New York, NY: Routledge. Sleeter, C. E. (2001). Preparing teachers for culturally diverse schools: Research and the overwhelming presence of whiteness. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(2), 94-106. Spring, J. (2009). Globalization of education: An introduction. New York, NY: Routledge. United States Department of Education. (2011). Public elementary/secondary school universe survey, 2007-2008. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ruraled/tables/b.1.b.-1.asp?refer=urban Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Educating culturally responsive teachers: A coherent approach. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
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