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From Corporation to Community: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy In an Urban Laboratory for School Reform


by Celia Rousseau Anderson, Erika C. Bullock, Beverly Cross & Angiline Powell — 2017

Background/Context: Memphis has, in many ways, become “ground zero” for neoliberal—or corporate—reform efforts, including a statewide turnaround school district, proliferation of charter schools, and value-added teacher evaluation measures. Along with these reforms come models of schooling that undermine the concept of the “community school,” leading to different conceptions of schools, teachers, and students. In this reform context, it is challenging to implement culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) in a way that is true to its three pillars: academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. The challenges that those who desire to implement CRP face can be categorized as either conceptual—representing a lack of understanding of CRP’s conceptual underpinnings—or systemic—representing institutional barriers that impede the integration of CRP.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this analytic essay is to outline particular challenges to CRP in a hyper-reform context and to propose a framework describing changes that must take place in the process of implementing CRP.

Setting: The authors use Memphis as a model of hyper-reform and the backdrop for discussions of how CRP can be implemented in such a setting.

Research Design: This paper is an analytic essay.

Conclusions/Recommendations: We propose that effectively implementing CRP in a reform context is a process that requires a shift from a methodology of individualism to a methodology of collectivism. We align corporate reform with an individualist approach, while CRP, we argue, takes a more collectivist stance. The shift from individualism to collectivism also signals a shift in our conceptions of students, from trainees to successful citizens; teachers, from engineers to artists and activists; and schools, from corporations to community.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 1, 2017, p. 1-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21737, Date Accessed: 3/23/2017 10:16:20 AM

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About the Author
  • Celia Anderson
    University of Memphis
    E-mail Author
    CELIA ROUSSEAU ANDERSON is an associate professor in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership at the University of Memphis. Her scholarly interests include equity in mathematics education, urban education, and critical race theory. She recently published “What Do You See? The Supreme Court Decision in PICS and the Re-segregation of Two Southern School Districts” in the Teachers College Record.
  • Erika Bullock
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    E-mail Author
    ERIKA C. BULLOCK is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her scholarly interests include urban mathematics education, urban education, critical curriculum history, and critical postmodern theory. Recent publications include papers in Educational Studies in Mathematics, The Mathematics Enthusiast, and the Journal of Education.
  • Beverly Cross
    University of Memphis
    E-mail Author
    BEVERLY E. CROSS is the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education at the University of Memphis. Her scholarly interests include teacher diversity, urban education, multicultural and anti-racist education, and curriculum theory. She recently co-authored “What is ‘Urban’? A CRT Examination of the Preparation of K–12 Teachers for Urban Schools” in Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education (Routledge).
  • Angiline Powell
    University of Memphis
    E-mail Author
    ANGILINE POWELL is an associate professor in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership at the University of Memphis. Her scholarly interests include in-service and preservice teacher education and STEM education. She recently co-authored “Exploring Preservice Teacher Perspectives on Video Games as Learning Tools” in the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education.
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