Advocacy for Equity: Extending Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in Predominantly White Suburban Schools
by April Warren-Grice — 2017
Background/Context: This article describes Black educators in predominantly White suburban schools who have used advocacy through the lens of culturally relevant pedagogy and serve as Educational Cultural Negotiators to help the students of color in these spaces academically and socially. This article highlights the advocacy needed to address the plight of students of color in suburban schools who disproportionately lag behind their White and Asian counterparts.
Purpose/Focus of Study: This research focuses on the experiences and reflections of five Black educators who have directed after-school programs in predominantly White suburban schools. Through their experiences and reflections, this study provides a snapshot—part of a larger study—of the ways Black educators use culturally relevant pedagogy to advocate for students of color.
Setting: Four suburban high schools in a Midwest metropolitan region of the United States.
Research Design: Qualitative research (i.e., portraiture) was used to capture the reflections and experiences of five Black educators (18–30 years of experience) in predominantly White suburban high schools. I interviewed participants three times during the course of a year, with the last interview conducted as a focus group. I developed interview questions thematically to provide information on each director’s background, the role they played in influencing Black and Latino/a student achievement, their experiences as they helped program participants, their insight on sustaining program directors, and suggestions for educational leaders and educators of Black and Latino/a students.
Findings/Results: Participants shared a sense of racial uplift to address issues of concern with Black and Latino/a students. Racial uplift manifested in the form of racial and academic advocacy. Racial advocacy came through protecting students from various types of mistreatment, neglect, and macro and micro forms of racism. Educators worked with the staff and students to help navigate and negotiate the racial space. Academic advocacy came through encouraging and supporting students to reach their highest potential though mentorship, tutoring, student life workshops, college visits, and cultural field trips.
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