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Locating Black Girls in Educational Policy Discourse: Implications for the Every Student Succeeds Act

by Venus Evans-Winters, Dorothy E. Hines, Allania Moore & Teresa Lawrence Jones - 2018

The enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 by President Barack Obama increased accountability requirements and was designed to reduce achievement and opportunity gaps, and racial disproportionality in school discipline. Despite the implementation of ESSA, Black girls still continue to experience hypercriminalization and policing, and when disaggregated by race and gender, they still receive the highest rates of disciplinary punishments in school and out of school. In this article, we discuss how Black girls in the Pk–12 public school system are invalidated and ignored in educational policy discourse and in school reform. In our discussion, we argue that ESSA tends to focus on identity categories (such as race, gender, class, and linguistics), and not on the intersectionality thereof, or how race does not operate as a silo (race, gender, social class, and other parts of our identity are layered and form a mosaic). We draw from literature on Black girls, zero tolerance, and critical race feminism to examine Black girls’ disciplinary punishments in Chicago Public Schools, and ESSA’s effect on a national scale. In our analysis of quantitative data from Chicago Public Schools, we find that, in the third largest district in the United States, Black girls are disproportionally the recipients of out-of-school suspensions. Black female students received 78% of all female out-of-school suspensions during the 2016–2017 school year. A majority of the actions that Black girls were punished for were minor in nature and not due to violence or criminal offenses. We find that when Black girls are made invisible during the policy process and made visible when they are recipients of bias punishments, they will be more susceptible to receiving hyperpunitive disciplinary outcomes. Therefore, this article recommends that schools, policy makers, and researchers examine how harsh discipline and exclusionary policies affect Black girls as racialized and gendered beings while not ignoring the needs of Black female students during the school reform process.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 13, 2018, p. 1-18
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22351, Date Accessed: 6/12/2021 8:13:59 AM

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About the Author
  • Venus Evans-Winters
    Illinois State University
    E-mail Author
    VENUS EVANS-WINTERS is an associate professor at Illinois State University. She has researched the experiences of Black girls in the United States and internationally. Dr. Evans-Winters’s scholarship explores Black girls across the African diaspora and Black women’s experiences using critical race feminism, Black feminist theory, and critical race theory. She is the author of the book Teaching Black Girls: Resiliency in Urban Classrooms 1st and 2nd edition (2011) and the coeditor of Black Feminism in Education: Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out (2015), both published by Peter Lang.
  • Dorothy Hines
    University of Kansas
    E-mail Author
    DOROTHY E. HINES holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas. Her research explores the intersections of race, gender, and space in structuring Black girlhood, school discipline policies, carcerality, and the experiences of Black women in higher education. Dr. Hines is the winner of the Paula Silver Case Award for the most outstanding publication in the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership for the 2015 volume year. Also, she is the coauthor of the article “The Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Black Girls: Using Critical Race Feminism and Figured Worlds to Examine School Discipline” (2017), published in Urban Education.
  • Allania Moore
    Illinois State University
    E-mail Author
    ALLANIA MOORE is a doctoral student at Illinois State University.
  • Teresa Jones
    Illinois State University
    E-mail Author
    TERESA LAWRENCE JONES is a doctoral student at Illinois State University.
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