Saturday, April 20, 2013

AERA 2013 Annual Meeting Presentations

I will be participating in two sessions at the upcoming American Educational Research Association 2013 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. 

In the first session, I will be presenting my paper titled, "Whiteness in the Social Studies Classroom: Students’ Conceptions of Race and Ethnicity in United States History" as part of a Social Studies Research Special Interest Group sponsored roundtable titled "Research on the Purpose and Practice of Social Studies Education." The session begins at 2:15 pm on April 28th in the Hilton Union Square Tower 3 Mason room. You can read the entire paper here:

In the second session, I will be the discussant on a Teacher As Researcher Special Interest Group sponsored paper session titled, "Teacher Research: Understanding the Contexts Inside and Outside the Classroom," which features four interesting teacher research papers. The session begins at 10:35 on April 28th at the Hilton Union Square, Fourth Level Tower 3 Union Square 10 room.

New Report Shows Negative Effects of Market-Oriented Education Reforms

A new report released this week by the Broader Bolder Approach to Education and the Economic Policy Institute shows some of the negative effects of market-oriented education reforms in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., by comparing the students in those districts to other urban districts. Although this report does not present any new research per se, it does analyze existing evidence from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and peer reviewed quantitative and qualitative research.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

1. Education Gap
NAEP test scores increased less and achievement gaps grew more in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. than in other urban districts. For example, "Between 2005 and 2011, in large, urban districts, Hispanic eighth-graders gained an average six points in reading (from 243 to 249), black eighth-graders gained 5 points (from 240 to 245), and white eighth-graders gained 3 points (from 270 to 273). In District of Columbia Public Schools, however, Hispanic eighth-graders’ scores fell 15 points (from 247 to 232), black eighth-graders’ scores fell 2 points (from 233 to 231), and white eighth-graders’ scores fell 13 points (from 303 to 290)" (p. 4).

2. Instructional Quality and Educational Opportunities for Students
The over-emphasis on test-based accountability led to an exodus of experienced teachers, but not necessarily the teachers market-based reformers labeled as "bad." In most cases, experienced teachers were replaced with under-qualified or unqualified teachers. "After four years fully half (52.1 percent) of teachers left the system, up from 45.3 percent" (p. 4) and few teachers ever reached "experienced" defined as 5-7 years of teaching experience. Furthermore, the vast majority of students (94%) at schools labeled "failing" and closed went to other schools with similar or even lower test scores, and in many cases, this resulted in longer student commutes, often through more dangerous areas.

3. Charter Schools were Not the Promised Panacea
Increasing the number of charter schools or replacing closed schools with charter schools generally disrupted the districts. The results of students in charter schools in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. mirrored studies that showed charter schools provide generally mixed benefits, with 34% of students nationwide doing worse and only 17% doing better. Moreover, charter schools in Chicago, N.Y., and D.C. served fewer high-need students compared to the regular public schools, while disrupting the school districts logistically and financially.

To read more, click here for the full report:

Weiss, E., & Long, D. (2013). Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality: The impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and increased charter school access on student outcomes in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

50th Anniversary of "Letter from Birmingham City Jail"

On this date 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. penned one of his greatest writings, the "Letter from Birmingham City Jail." Not only did this letter help shift more support within southern Black communities toward the movement, it also represented an important shift toward more persistent and determined forms of non-violent resistance. As a primary source document, it should be included in any curriculum on the modern civil rights movement.

As a history teacher, I have always found it difficult to read through the letter without being overwhelmed with emotion. King's eloquence expressed the necessary combination of poignancy, urgency, and honesty. He evokes the sense of struggle and injustice best in the following lines:

"We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, 'Wait.' But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: 'Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?'; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading 'white' and 'colored'; when your first name becomes 'nigger,' your middle name becomes 'boy' (however old you are) and your last name becomes 'John,' and your wife and mother are never given the respected title 'Mrs.'; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of 'nobodiness'then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."

I encourage you to read the full text included on the website of the African Studies Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Resource Link:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recently Published Studies

My research is published in the latest issues of Theory and Research in Social Education and the Journal of Social Studies Research. Consider giving them a read.

Race and Histories: Examining Culturally Relevant Teaching in the U.S. History Classroom 
Theory and Research in Social Education
Volume 41, Issue 1, March 2013, pages 65-81

Learning to Teach History as Interpretation: A Longitudinal Study of Beginning Teachers
Journal of Social Studies Research
Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2013, pages 17–31

Trail of Tears Lesson Plan

When teaching about the Trail of Tears (also known as Indian Removal) in the 1830s, students often are perplexed by the government's decision to remove thousands of American Indians from their homeland and force them to settle in modern day Oklahoma. Learning why this tragic violation of civil rights occurred, can help students understand the importance of protecting civil rights in the present. Here is a link to a great lesson plan, with extensive historical documents, that can help students learn about the conflicting perspectives of the time, as well as a nice summary from PBS on Andrew Jackson's involvement in Indian Removal. They are worth a glance.

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My New Blog

This is my new blog dedicated to social studies and education. I hope to use it to link to insightful articles and write about current issues related to social studies education, race and ethnicity in the history classroom, social justice, and equity in education.