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Davis Waller, Harriet.
A descriptive study of the achievement gap in a florida county
h [electronic resource] /
by Harriet Davis Waller.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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Dissertation (EDD)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the perspectives of five participants representing the school district and community regarding the achievement gap between Black and White students. This study attempted to answer two major questions: 1.What are the components of their perspectives and how they are formed? 2.What beliefs support or hinder that perspective? In this study social conflict theory was used as the theoretical framework for this study, harnessing the concept of resiliency as a new paradigm shift looking at Black students and community not as "deficient" or "deficits" but implementing their unique cultural assets and strengths to help close the achievement gap. Trends show that academic disparities between Black students and White students are complicated by many factors, including family poverty, limited neighborhood resources, displacement of communities due to gentrification and/or government interventions, lack of power, placement into lower-track classes and often community hostility towards the current public education system in general. These disparities contribute to the academic achievement gap. Historically, these disparities have challenged, Black students ability to survive, cope and sustain resiliency. This study looked at resiliency can be used and embraced so that Black students can become their own advocates for change including inside the educational arena and in their external environments to help close the achievement gap. This study relied on qualitative research methods, which is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry. The participants were selected according to the roles they play within the community and school district. Interviews were conducted two times with each of the participants regarding their perspectives. Other data was compiled from field notes and the researcher reflective journal. The data was coded and analyzed concerning the participants perception of the achievement gap. The major findings of this study reveal that organizational vision, a true collaborative partnership between the district and community and the political will to change is key to closing the achievement gap. Each of the participants have a dual vision for the future, one, that recognizes the centrality of closing the achievement gap. They also reveal that present and past political policies are contributing factors as well.
Advisor: Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D.
x Ed Leadership & Policy Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
A Descriptive Study of the Achiev ement Gap in a Florida County by Harriet Davis-Waller A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Valerie Janesick, Ph.D. Leonard Burrello, Ed.D. Bobbie Greenlee, Ed.D. William Young, Ed.D. Date of Approval: May 7, 2010 Keywords: resiliency, achievement gap, critical theory, segregation Copyright 2010, Harriet Davis-Waller
Dedication I am reminded of a story that I heard c onstantly while growing up in Philadelphia called The eagle who lived as a chicken that was both inspiring and profound. In a nutshell, the story is about an eagle that wa s adopted and raised as a chicken. The eagle never knew his strength or pow er and couldnt fly. One day the young eagle saw an older eagle flying and was mesmerized, because it looked like him. The old eagle scooped down and asks why are you living like a ch icken, why you are a king and powerful, you can fly. The chickens who he played with a nd raised him, told him not to trust the old eagle. But deep in the young eag les heart he knew that the ol d eagle was his kin. He took one more gaze at the barnyard where he spen t all his life playing w ith his friends, then turned around and followed the older eagle. Finally, after much discussion and visits from the older eagle, he convinced the young eagle to fly. After several failures, th e young eagle spread hi s wings and soared upwards. The older eagle said to him don t look down, look up at the sky, and aim for the sun he did and he never looked back. This book is dedicated to th e wisdom of my mother who always encouraged me to be honest, strong, fearless, and to acknowledge my errors and keep moving ahead. Thank you for your unwavering confidence, encouragem ent, for always telling me the truth, good or bad and most of all for your love.
Acknowledgments I sincerely acknowledge the following people for their assistant and encouragement, and insightfulness throughout my project. Thank you Dr. Valerie Brimm, my mentor who was with me every step and stumble along the way who constantly reminded me to get it done. To my major pr ofessor, Dr. Valerie Janesick, a straight shooter, who pushed me to complete this and who provided guidance and analysis throughout the process. Thank you, Dr. Willia m Young, who stepped in when I needed another member on my committee and thanks si ncerely to Dr. Greenlee and Dr. Burrello as well. Thank you Mrs. Palmer, Lakewood Hi gh, Advanced Placement literature teacher, you are truly the best, I appreciate your help in editing my work. Thank you Uhuru Movement for my polit ical grounding, my ability to see and understand the world from the perspe ctive of the oppressed peoples. Finally, thank you John, for your unwavering su pport and love throughout this process.
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract vi Chapter One 1 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test 5 Statement of the Problem 6 Purpose of the Study 9 Exploratory Questions 9 Theory Which Guides the Study 9 Biases of the Researcher 14 Limitation of the Study 16 Definition of Terms 17 Organization of the Study 20 Chapter Two 21 Introduction and Organization 21 Why Resiliency? 23 Another View: Pioneers of Resiliency 25 Resiliency: A Paradigm Shift 26 Nurturing/Thematic Approach 29 Constructionist View of Resilience 34 The Role of Spirituality as it Relates to Resiliency 36 The Family 38 Social Cultural Assets 40 Bridging the Gap through Resiliency 47 Chapter Three 56 Qualitative Research 57 Phenomenological Framework 60 Research Design 61 Purposeful Sampling 64 Data Collection 64 Protocol A. Questions for Study 69 Data Analysis 70
ii Credibility 71 Role of the Researcher 72 Ethics 73 Pilot Study 75 Protocol A from the Interview March 2008 78 Chapter Four 79 Description of the Setting 81 Beach County 82 Franklin The City 83 Participant Selection 86 The Case of Jonathan Gibbs: The Statesman: A Dual Voice 87 The Case of Jonathan Gibbs 88 Two Major Themes Identified in the Data 92 Political and social resistan ce that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization 92 Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation 93 Lack of organizational vision a nd defining a strategic direction 94 Sub-theme two: Community challenges 96 Sub-theme three: Looking at the development assets of Black students 97 Summation: Looking to the future 98 The Case of William Lloyd Garrison: The Reformer 99 Two Major Themes Inde ntified in the Data 102 Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation 103 Lack of organizational vision a nd defining a strategic direction 105 Sub-theme two: Community challenges 105 Sub-theme three: Looking at the development assets of Black students 106 Summation: Looking to the future 107 The Case of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois: The Politician 108 The politician 110 Political and social resistan ce that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization 112 Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation 113 Sub-theme two: Community challenges 115 Sub-theme three: Looking at the development assets of Black students 116 Summation: Looking to the future 118 The Case of Nannie Helen Burroughs The Visionary 121 Political and social resistan ce that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization 124 Sub-theme one: Community challenges 125 Sub theme two: Looking at the developmental assets of Black students 126 Summation: Looking to the future 127
iii Summary 128 Chapter Five 133 Analysis, Conclusions, and Recommendations 134 Qualitative Methods 134 Responses to Exploratory Questions 139 The achievement gap 142 Segregation versus integration 142 Community challenges 143 Analyzing the themes and sub-themes 144 Political and social resist ance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization 144 Lack of Organizational Vision a nd Defining a Strategic Direction 148 Sub-Theme One Integration vs. Segregation 150 Sub-Theme Two Community Challenges 151 Sub-Theme Three Developing th e Assets of Black Students 153 Impact of the Study on the Researcher 157 Conclusions 161 Ethical Issues Emerging from the Study 163 Recommendations for Furthe r Research and Practice 164 References 166 Appendices 178 Appendix A: Field Notes 179 Appendix B: Sample Journal 182 Appendix C: Prot ocol AQuestions 183 Appendix D: Interview QuestionsProtocol B 184 Appendix E: Selected Excerpt from Transcript 186 Appendix F: Thank You Letter to Participants 193 Appendix G: Member Check Form 194 Appendix H: Consent to Take Part in this Research Study 195 Appendix I: Peer Reviewer Form 197 About the Author End Page
iv List of Tables Table 3.1 Proposed Timeline 64 Table 4.1 Franklin Demographics 84 Table 4.2 Comparisons of Personal Characteristics among Among the Five Participants Using Pse udonyms to Indentify 86 Table 5.1 FCAT Results for 2001, 2003, and 2009 Reading Black and White students scoring level 3 and above 136 Table 5.2 FCAT Results for 2001, 2003, and 2009 Math Comparing Black and White students scoring 3 and above 137 Table 5.3 Represents the Perspe ctives of Participants 156
v List of Figures Figure 1.1 Tables of Graduation Rates 3 Figure 2.1 Schema for Review of the Literature for: Perspectives on the Achievement Gap using Resiliency as a Construct 23 Figure 2.2 Understanding the Family 39 Figure 2.3 Teacher Resiliencies in Promoting Academic Achievement 53 Figure 4.1 Overlapping Perspectives 89 Figure 4.2 Visualization of importa nt components of Jonathan Gibbs perspective 99 Figure 4.3 Visualization of the components of William Lloyd Garrison Perspective 108 Figure 4.4 Visualization of the components of W. E. B. Du Bois perspective 120 Figure 4.5 Discipline Data Beach County All High Schools (2008-09) 124 Figure 4.6 Visualization of the components of Nannie Burroughs perspective 128 Figure 5.1 Strategic Direction on the Achievement Gap 135 Figure 5.2 Visual image of participants perspectives on the achievement gap 141 Figure 5.3 Common threads of Jonath an Gibbs and William Lloyd Garrison beliefs 146 Figure 5.4 Common threads of Burroughs and Du Bois 148 Figure 5.5 Building a collaborative re lationship for student achievement 151 Figure 5.6 Using Developmental Assets 155
vi A Descriptive Study of Perspectives of the Achievement Gap in a Florida County Harriet Davis-Waller ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the perspectives of five participants representing th e school district and community regarding the achievement gap between Black and White students. This study attempted to answer two major questions: 1. What are the components of their pers pectives and how they are formed? 2. What beliefs support or hinder that perspective? In this study social conflict theory was used as the theoretical fr amework for this study, harnessing the concept of resiliency as a new paradigm shift looking at Black students and community not as deficient or deficit s but implementing their unique cultural assets and strengths to help close the achievement gap. Trends show that academic disparities between Black students and White students are complicated by many factors, incl uding family poverty, limited neighborhood resources, displacement of communities du e to gentrification and/or government interventions, lack of power, placement into lower-track classes and often community hostility towards the current public educati on system in general. These disparities contribute to the academic achievement ga p. Historically, these disparities have challenged, Black students ability to survive, cope and sustain resiliency. This study looked at resiliency can be used and embraced so that Black students can become their
vii own advocates for change including inside th e educational arena and in their external environments to help close the achievement gap. This study relied on qualitative research methods, which is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry. The participants were selected according to the roles they pl ay within the community and school district. Interviews were conducted two times with each of the participants regarding their perspectives. Other data was compiled from field notes and the re searcher reflective journal. The data was coded and analyzed c oncerning the participan ts perception of the achievement gap. The major findings of this study reve al that organizational vision, a true collaborative partnership between the district and community and th e political will to change is key to closing the achievement gap. Each of the pa rticipants have a dual vision for the future, one, that recognizes the centr ality of closing the achievement gap. They also reveal that present a nd past political policies are contributing factors as well.
1 Chapter One In August 2000, a lawsuit was filed ag ainst the Beach County, Florida School Board because of the failure of the system to educate Black students. The suit became known as Crowley v. Pinellas County School Bo ard and was later amended to a class action suit to include all 20,000 current and futu re Black students. The suit alleged that the Beach County School Board failed to pr ovide an adequate education to Black students in violation of Florida law and the State constitution. At the same time, Judge Steven Merryday, a Federal Judge with the 5th Circuit Court declared Beach schools free of discri mination and ended a 36 year Federal court order that required busing for desegregation a nd race ratios in Beach schools. The ruling removed the County from the court order and also resulted in a negotiated settlement approved by the Judge and the NAACP legal de fense fund. As part of the settlement the district pledged to address Black student ach ievement, Black student discipline, and the assignment of Black students to spec ial education classe s and programs. Nationally, its hard to dispute that an achievement gap exists, however, the interpretation and perspectives from a broad array of individuals and scholars have made it impossible for a clear solution to emerge. In Beach County, it is not clear if there is a consensus or direction on the achievement gap on how best to tackle the problem. Historically, the District and Black community have been at odds, resulting in hostility, mistrust, and exclusion. This re lationship was based on past perceived historical wrongs,
2 rooted in social, economic a nd political disempowerments th at have worsened over the past thirty five year s after desegregation. The achievement gap caused tension and alarm from different sectors of the Beach County community, including the bus iness sector. In June 2008, the Beach Education Foundation led by some of the c ountys most influential economic business leaders, frustrated by what they have term ed poor graduation rates, lack of student preparation for the workforce, and dwindli ng economic woes, wrote and distributed the white paper, aptly titled A case for change in Beach schools. The group advocates for an overhaul of how schools ar e run and managed. School reform is not a new concept, broad changes dealing with race and educati on grew out of the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s. However, it was the Chi cago reform movement of the 1980s and 90s that emphasized accountability and programs to deal with school wide improvements. Similarly, the Beach Education Foundation, in th eory wants to put the power back in the hands of the principals to control their sc hools from top to bottom. Accordingly, this would alleviate the power of th e district to impose its will across the district. The group believes that students are best served when power is site based. The principal along with the School Advisory Committee (SAC) would be empowered to make decisions from budget expenditures, programs, curriculum to strategic direction. The Education Foundation envisions schools changing their fo cus from consumers of resources to managers of resources. Thus, according to th is belief, it would turn the tide on the low graduation rate and achievement gap. This w hite paper caused di visions between the School Board and the Education Foundation who once enjoyed a cozy relationship. The School Board is concerned about the pending Cr owley lawsuit that ha s yet to go to trial
3 and the Foundation is looking at its bottom line. It is extremely bleak. Any admittance of guilt concerning Black students by the School Boar d could have infinite consequences for Black students in Beach County and the othe r parts of the United States awaiting the outcome of the Crowley case. On another front the Schott Foundation rele ased a report that examined national trends affecting Black males which paints a dismal picture. In comparing Beach County with national data, it was no better in gra duating Black males. A brief data table compares Florida and overall national data. Graduation rate 2005/6 Male students Graduation Rate 2004/5 Male students Black males Black White Gap Black White Black Chg. White Chg. USA4.3mil. 47% 75% 28% 47% 74% 0% 1% Florida326,757 38% 60% 22% 35% 56% 3% 4% Figure 1.1. Tables of Graduation Rates. (T he Schott 50 State Report, (2008). Florida is divided into 67 distinct co unties, each governed by its own school board and Beach County is the seventh largest in Florida as of this writing. Beach County serves approximately 113,000 students. Fifty-fi ve out of 85 elementary schools in the county are Title 1 schools. The county, which in corporates the city of Franklin, has a Black enrollment of 19%. Most of the Black student population has been concentrated in the southern most region of the city called South Franklin or Midtown. The dividing line separating most of the Black residents is Berlin Road, which is likened to the geographical Mason-Dixon Line, separating the north from the south. The dividing line in Beach County speaks volumes about the range of perspectives from residents on both sides in terms of resources, teacher experience and policies. Beach County is home to
4 921,482 residents, of which 82,556 are Black and 77% of the Black residents live below the poverty line as defined as the minimum le vel of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living. The stat e average of those liv ing below the poverty threshold is 11.2%, however, for Blacks who make comprise 9% of the county population, 26.8% are living in poverty in Beach County. The first Blacks settled in what has become known as St. Petersburg in 1868, as enslaved servants; they were Anna Ge rmain and John Donaldson. These enslaved servants married and raised eleven children. Th ey were later joined by a number of newly freed Blacks who came to build the infrastructu re, such as the railroads, the piers, and roads; later these descendants moved to othe r cities in Pinellas C ounty (Phillips, 1994). As the cities grew, Franklin and other surroundi ng cities began to bu ild a thriving tourist economy; however, the demand for cheap labo r was great, and newly freed Blacks began permanently to settle the ar eas. They filled the demand for this newly emerging industry in the form of tourist servants, such as be llhops, maids, waiters, a nd later as nursing home workers. According to Evelyn Phillips (1994) as Blacks built the infrastructures, they were restricted through policies of segregat ion. These policies restricted the community politically, socially and economically, Black re sidents were restrict ed through law as to where they could live and work. However, despite these restrictions, Blacks built thriving communities such as the Gas Plant area, Me thodist Town, Little Egypt, Pepper Town, French Town and the deuces, (22nd Avenue). A sense of community was born. Evelyn Phillips writes in her dissertation (1994), by the early 60s Blacks were demanding more inclusion in the education system and ec onomic life within the city. A protest led primarily by the group Junta of Militant Orga nization (JOMO) helped desegregate public
5 facilities, and later other or ganizations and individuals be gan to demand integration of public schools. The desegregation of schools altered th e community. Once thriving Black areas were uprooted by the early 1980s, in the name of economic redevelopment by the county. Over 2,000 Black families were moved out and displaced, this process continues in 2008. In a blink, thriving communities were gone; Black owned gas stations were gone; barber shops and beau ty parlors gone; the infam ous Manhattan club gone; and community traditions were destroyed in the pr ocess. These changes helped usher in a new era for public schools in Beach County. Pr ior to desegregation, the only Black elementary, middle, and high school underw ent unprecedented changes. While many celebrated Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision to integrate schools, some have raised the question at what expense? Have Black students made significant gains as a result of integration? Why ha snt integration closed the ac hievement gap? What factors have hindered academic achievement? What role if any has standardized testing played in the achievement gap? Finally, have pa st and present policies impacted Black achievement? Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test It is important to examine data to get a deeper understanding of the measurement that is often used to gauge progr ess. In most States, the use of standardized test viewed as the measuring tool for student performance. In Florida, that yardstick is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) that is administer ed starting in 3rd grade, again in 8th and 10th grade. For the purpose of this paper, only the grade test scores for the years 2001, 2004 and 2008 will be examined, because t hose grades are crucial determinants
6 and benchmarks for future success. This data will be discussed furt her in chapter five. Statement of the Problem The problem is that there is no definitive definition or understanding of the achievement gap nationwide or District wide Literature and schol arly research offer conflicting views over how best to close the achievement gap. Some argue that President Bushs legislative initiative, No Child Left Behind (2002) was the governments recognition that the educati onal system of accountability and performance must be reformed. The act ushered in stringent pol icies of accountability, labeling schools across the country determining whether they were meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, (AYP). Report cards were issued that assessed whet her subgroups were performing at proficient levels and whether they were in complianc e. Those schools that failed to make gains within their different sub-groups over a three year span were deemed failures and subject to state takeover. Some argue that the real intent of the NCLB act is the dismantling of public education and the removal of poor a nd minority students. In the book, Meier, et al., (2004) authored by a wide range of contributors, one of the founding members clearly articulates what she believes is the problem with the NCLB act: the biggest problem with the NCLB act is that it mistakes m easuring schools for fixing them .rather than lifting the performan ce of low achieving students, NC LB increases the number of dropouts and push outs *(Sizer, 2004). Anothe r author of the book states the NCLB fails to address the true causes of school a nd student failures and to advance an agenda for real improvement. It is reasonable to s uggest that the NCLB act has had an impact on the prevailing achievement gap between Blac k and White students; however, from the perspective of the authors it would be unreasonable to say that new stringent
7 accountability has helped close that gap. While there is no mistaking the value of standardized testing and accountability, attention has been focused on exactly what the re al intent is and how and if has helped or hindered the achievement gap. Some researcher s argue that high stak es testing diverts attention away from the real issues in soci ety and in schools such as adequate funding, students needing qualified teachers and acce ss to rigorous curriculum(s). In the book, authored by Sacks, (2001), he goes into depth with a comprehensive overview of the origins of standardized tes ting. In the early cen tury testing was a way to measure intelligence and provide data for theories about the intellectual superiority of Northern European whites. Today, the author argues th at testing is still us ed in the same way Polite society nowadays has its own defec tives, who dont measur e up on standardized tests of so-called inte lligence, (p. 50). On ce a upon a time, they were Italian and Jewish immigrants, Now, they are the poor, African -American, Indians and people with learning disabilities those for whom English is a second language, and others. Simply said, according to this belief they lack requisite ab ilities, cognitive development, aptitude or just poor. Being poor and or Black is what so me researchers and literature has focused on as to why the achievement gap exists. Secondly, just who is responsible fo r the academic success of poor and Black students? Is the real job of education to provide opportunities a nd not education? One school of thought that was represented by Ja mes Coleman (1966) was that schooling had relatively little effect on the ultimate equality of students life outcomes, that parents involvement in their childrens lives affect ed achievement and eventual success. Later, this analysis was supported by Evans (2005) in his book, Reframing the Achievement
8 Gap who argues that the achievement gap is not a problem for schools, teachers and administration to simply solve; he states th e problem is due to out side influences that schools have no control over. From his pers pective the achievement gap is a shared responsibility, especially, among students of poverty. Parents also must be taught about parenting, allowing less televisi on, providing early intervention such as pre-schooling and limiting summer time off. Schools, on the other hand, if the achievement gap is to be closed, must re-set their priorities because th e focus is too narrow. According to this train of thought, the correct perspective would be gin not by asking how schools should address the achievement gap but by asking what conditi ons need to be in place so schools can do so. Lastly, one approach that has been gain ing momentum is the notion that somehow Black children are defective has been challe nged by such notable wr iters and researchers such as Kozol (2005). In his book, The Shame of the Nation and Ladson-Billings (2007), both argues passionately against th e deficit model of thinking. The latter states, children at risk .we cannot saddle these babies at kinde rgarten with this labe l and expect them to proudly wear it for the next 13 years, and th ink, well gee, I dont know why they arent doing good what you call something matters (2007) Finally, one of her main points is that the racial achievement gap unfairly constructs student s as defective and lacking and admonishes them that they need to cat ch up. She suggested the term education debt, moving to a discourse that holds us all accountable. It is a perspective that challenges the policy-makers and educators to reconceptualize the approach to closing the achievement gap and to focus on re-paying the debt that has amassed at the expense of an entire group of people and future generations.
9 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to desc ribe and explain perspectives on the achievement gap in Beach County, Florida by selected district leadership personnel, educators, and community leaders. Exploratory Questions The exploratory studies wh ich guide this study are: 1. What are the components of their pers pectives and how they are formed? 2. What beliefs support or hinder that perspective? In order to answer these research questi ons, interviews will be conducted with all participants and will be concentrated within the Beach County, Florida school district. I will also use relevant documents from the Cr owley case on both sides of the lawsuit, and data from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. I will also maintain a researcher reflective journal that will comple te the data collection methods. Theory Which Guides the Study This study is guided by two theories that ar e related to each other and grew out of the reform movement, conflict theory and cons tructivism. The social conflict theory is rooted historically in the works of Karl Marx (Tischler, 2002) a nd Paulo Freire (1968). The social conflict framework as first introduc ed by Karl Marx is a theory that views society as a complex system characterized by inequality and conflict/ contradictions that demand change. Social conflict theory can be described as a struggle between social classes in society, between the poor and oppressed demanding inclusion and/or power from the ruling class that controls the m eans and forces of production *(Sociology at Hewitt, 2007). The social conflict theory ga thered momentum quickly in the 1950s and
10 1960s, in response to struggles for national li beration and social turmoil in the United States, Africa and Central America. These st ruggles led to many social reform initiatives and discussions within developing countries especially from t hose groups/ethnicities previously excluded. Researchers began to discuss the role of education from the perspective of the oppressed a nd marginalized, especially th e work done by noted writer Kozol (1967). They hotly debated whether e ducational institutions were separate and neutral entities free from class positions or biases. Critical theorists, like their forbearers, argued that education was an extension of society and played a powerful role in the transmission of values, beliefs, ideology a nd socialization. The question became, whose beliefs, values, must be taught in an incr easingly global society. The social conflict theory framework sees the purpose of educa tion as maintaining social inequality and preserving the power of those who control soci ety. The premise is th at education in any society has the purpose of reproducing th e economic and social relationships. Out of this debate two compelling views of child development and the purpose of education emerged to frame the teaching pe dagogy. In the first view, the purpose of education is to educate the individual ch ild in a manner which supports the childs interests and needs. This first view belongs to the theory of cognitive development that identifies the individual as the subject of study. In the second vi ew, the purpose of education is social transformation and th e reconstruction of society aligned with democratic ideas. This view sees the individual as part of a cultural milieu and identifies the subject of study as the di alectical relationship between the two. These two themes are central to the current discussion of constructivism. Piagetian constructivism is aligned with an emphasis on education for indivi dual cognitive development while forms of
11 Vygotskian constructivism ar e aligned with an emphasis on education for social transformation (Wagner, 2007). Theories of ch ild development and appropriate schooling are influenced by cultural assumptions and re flect dominate views about the nature of development and how schooling should be constructed. While the commonly accepted theories represent the prevailing view in this country there ar e many people and groups whose ideas and beliefs are excluded by this discourse. This latte r view of schooling being tools of transformation called atte ntion to schools pres erving and stratifying existing social conditions. This notion called for stressing the role of schools, allied with other progressive forces, in planning for an intelligent reconstruction of United States society where there would be a more just and equitable distribu tion of the nations wealth, and the common good would take pr ecedent over individua l gain *(Liston and Zeichner, 1997). Increasing contradictions between the ideals of democracy and the reality of capitalism clearly hi ghlight growing economic, soci al and political inequality for a growing marginalized and oppressed population. John Dewey (1960), the most prominent American educator and a proponent of child-centered pedagogy, advocated that the le arning environment be shaped to fit the development of the individual child and th at the subject matter be interesting and connected to the student lives. He argued earlier that: Learning is active. It involves reachi ng out of the mind. It involves organic assimilation starting from within. Literally, we must take our stand with the child and our departure from him. It is he a nd not subject matter which determines both quality and quantity of learning (Dewey, 1916, p. 9). He saw a wider social purpose for education: to prepare students to be critical
12 thinkers in order to participate in democr acy. Dewey and other progressives argued that schooling should not amount to social contro l and simple vocation training. Instead schooling should lead to lifel ong learning and achievement. Fi nally, the great work of Freire (1968) goes hand in hand w ith constructivism and social conflict, his work is used in various forms today; he argues: 1.) Education should raise the awareness of the oppressed so that they become subjects rather than objects of the world. For him this meant teaching students to think democratically, to question conti nually and to make meaning (critically view) of their environment; 2.) Knowledge is a social construct. Frei re believed that beliefs are shaped into knowledge by discussion and critical reflection; 3.) Theory of human nature, the oppressed ma jority must be taught to imagine a better way so that they can shape thei r future and thereby become more human in the process of partic ipating as true equals; 4.) Finally, that education for the oppresse d is a dehumanizing process. Freire talks about the fallacy of teachers ac tually teaching but really instructing students. He described the current education syst em as a bank, a large repository where students come to withdraw th e knowledge they need for thei r station in life. For him, education must be about teachers becoming l earners and students, especially oppressed students, becoming teachers and the acquisiti on of knowledge. Otherwise, as he argues, knowledge is simply mechanical, machinel ike and rote memorization, guaranteeing dependence. This is similar to what Kozol (2005) wrote in The Shame of the Nation
13 (2005). Kozol discovered in his visits to poor schools throughout Boston and New York, Black students were simply aske d to be passive participants in their learning. This was reflected in empty slogans, meaningless lessons, and lack of resources. Kozol, like Freire, argues the conventional assumpti on that there is an equal opportunity in a democratic society is a fallacy. He further argues that in order for education to be a democratic process the oppressed must be truly given th e tools to reconstruc t society, and their values and beliefs must be leading factor s. Blackwell (1991) takes a similar position by stating it is only through transformation via fundamental changes in how power is distributed that the Black population can improve its status and make overall life changes in American society. He further contends that social inequalit y, which is the uneven distribution of privileges, mate rial rewards, opportunities, po wer, prestige, and influence among individuals and groups, is the product of and also perp etuates racial hatred and discrimination which contributes negatively to the upward social mobility of Black youth (Tischler, 2002). The lack of opportunities or perception of a growing social stratification and class conflict, as stated above, increases th e alienation of Black youth toward the dominate culture. Social stratif ication, income disparities, and poverty place many Blacks in the bottom tier of the economic scale, a nd it is a breeding ground for social upheavals and risks that compromise the academic achievement and resilience of Black youth. Clearly, the need for understa nding conflict and c onstructivist theory is needed in education to help educators, policy-ma kers and the community addresses the achievement gap. The ability to think outside the box is cr itical in moving Black students in Beach County. Educational leaders who grasp this ca n than see themselves as innovative and
14 visionarys because they have th e tools to address this gap. Biases of the Researcher The issue of bias in qualitative research is an important one, and demands special attention and discussion in any qualitative research study. Bias is a set of perceived events or other phenomena that are used in su ch a way that certain facts are habitually overlooked, distorted, or falsif ied (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996) A researchers personal beliefs and values are reflected only in th e choice of methodology and interpretation of finds, but also in the choice of the research topic. In other words what we believe in determines what we want to study. The trad itional positivist research paradigm has taught us to believe that what we are studying of ten has no personal significance, or that the only reason driving our resear ch is intellectual curiosit y. But more often than not, researchers have personal beli efs and views about a topic e ither in support of one side of an argument, or on the social, cultural, po litical sub-themes that seem to guide the development of the argument or research study. However, it is important that the researcher acknowledge these biases and take steps to avoid or minimize them. The qualitative paradigm assumes [that] th e self of the researcher has an effect upon the subject and context of study. In ot her words, it starts from accepting the assumption that there is no objective point of view, in contrast to quantitative methods that attempt to control for the influence of the researcher. This said the criteria for trustworthiness applicable to qualitative re searchers become essential for ensuring that the research actually reveal s more about the subject th an about the researcher. As an educator, many of the researcher experiences have shaped the researcher biases about the achievement gap between Black and White students. Acknowledging
15 these biases will help the researcher to avoid them in collecting and analyzing data. One such bias is the researchers belief that race and past cu ltural/political attitudes and political relationships have played a signifi cant role in how Black students are taught and how they are perceived. This bias was shap ed from the researcher experiences in instruction and, currently in supervision. From the perspe ctive of the bias, it would seem that Black students suffer from stereotyping, attitudes, lack of understanding and blame related to their backgrounds and are not gi ven the same expectations to succeed like White students. The researcher recognizes th at pre-existing bias must be monitored to prevent possible tainting of the collected data. Another bias or belief the researcher holds is the premise that educators are reluctant to advocate for more rigorous cour ses or to push Black students toward more challenging courses. Often, stude nts that are pushed into ri gorous courses are alienated from their peers, classmates and instructor. Alienation from their instructor is a major factor in how the students perceive their ab ility to succeed and how they learn. Educator instructors that teach rigorous courses ha ve often only taught a majority of White students because, often, Black students do not enroll in advanced placement classes. Usually, the first refrain the students encount er is whether they (Black students) are prepared for the class in terms of abilities or past academic success. Another such bias or belief the researcher holds is the premise that learning styles of Black students are often misunderstood. Di fferential instruction is the new buzz word throughout Beach County; it has not yet tr anslated to academic success for Black students. Similarly to what Kozol (2005) wrote, poor and minority students are often filled with empty slogans and meaningless inst ruction that does not take into account the
16 cultural background or experien ces of the student. According to Brimm, (2003), the misperception of cultural learning style has minimized the creativity of Black students resulting in a decrease in performance and an increase in discipline (p.11). According to the researcher, addressing cultu ral diversity in school instructors must include resiliency and other research-based data, not personal biases. The researcher acknowledges personal bias es and will monitor personal biases in the data analysis. The steps I will take to mi nimize researchers bias are field notes, and multiple sources of data that will be used to corroborate, el aborate, or illuminate the research. Limitation of the Study One importance of doing a qualitative research study is that it provides the researcher the ability to develop a descri ptive, rich understanding and insight into individuals attitudes, beliefs, concerns, motivations, as pirations, cultures, behaviors and preferences. However, on the other side it can provide for limitations in the study. One of the most important limitations is that the fi ndings cannot be directly generalized to the larger population being studied. The reasons for this limitation are: 1) for this study the participants were selected fo r various reasons to represent a broad but limited view of their perspectives on the achievement gap. Th e number of participants in a typical qualitative research study is too small to be representative of the population; 2) for this study five participants were selected with the understanding that more could be added later for various reasons. The five participan ts were selected because of their unique positions and relationships with the broade r community and within the public school district and their activism rega rding students; 3) us ually, six months to a year is typical
17 for doing a research study. This study is limited to 3-6 months of data collection, which is a limitation. Some participants tend to expre ss views that are consistent with social standards and try not to presen t themselves negatively. This may lead the participants to self-censor themselves, and this may be a limitation for this study. Finally, in a qualitative research study the researcher becomes the instrument. Simply stated, the quality of the data collection and the resu lts are highly dependent on the skills of the interviewer. Because these methods are depe ndent on interpersonal exchanges with the participants, any number of variables, includ ing the dress, demeanor and language used by the researcher may influence the quantity and quality of information given. The skill and experience of the resear cher can be a limitation. Definition of Terms This section provides definitions of term s used in the study. Several terms have been used in ways that might confuse th e reader. This section seeks to limit that confusion and to inform the reader as to the context in which these terms are used in this research. Achievement Gap-It is the difference in acad emic performance between various student ethnic groups. It is mostly defined in terms of academic differences between Black and White students. Others define it as the di fference between current student performance and the level of achievement needed to succeed in school and in the world. Banking concept-This term re fers to Paulo Freires ( 1968) theory of how oppressed children are taught from the pers pective of middle cla ss values. The goal is to define their station or place in society. Lessons are aliena ted from the students world view; it is disconnected from their e xperiences and conditions.
18 Constructivist Theory-This term describes how learning should happen, it suggests that learners construct knowledge. Each learner is viewed as a unique indi vidual with unique needs and backgrounds. The learner is seen as complex and multidimensional. Social constructivism encourages the learner to arri ve at his or her own version of the truth, influenced by his or her backgr ound, culture or embedded worldview. Drop Out RateDrop out information is collec ted from the school districts after the end of each school year. School districts repor t the number of drop outs through the public education system; drop out information is collected for grades 7-12. A student is identified as a drop out if the individual is absent w ithout an approved excuse or documented transfer or does not return to sc hool by the fall of the following school year, or if he or she completes th e school year but fails to re-e nroll the following school year. Not included are those who drop out before se venth grade; out of school temporary with approval or excused students in alternative programs; students enrolled in college early; and students enrolled as migrant workers. Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test-This test is used in primary and secondary public schools in Florida. First administered in 1998, it is also tied to school grades and a strict system of accountability. Graduation RateIt is defined as a federa lly required benchmark which calculates the percentage of on-time graduates with a re gular high school diploma. GED and special education diplomas are not allowed to c ount as a regular hi gh school diploma under regulations from the United States Department of Education. No Child Left BehindIt is the current fede ral legislation which us es the theories of standard based education reform, based on th e belief that setting high expectations and
19 establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades, which is often tied to the students ab ility to move from one grade to the next and the ability to graduate high school with a standard diploma. Poverty Line-It is defined as the minimum le vel of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country. It is determ ined by the total cost of all essential resources that an average human adult consumes in a year. ReframingThis refers to Bolman & Deals (1997) perspective on ways to analyze and examine various frames or windows of organi zational environment. Each frame holds the potential of presenting various stages of development or perspectives to help the leader define the organizational health. Resiliency-It is defined as an enduring characte ristic of a person, a situational or temporal interaction between a person and the context as it can be a pplied to social, academic, or other settings. It is a multifaceted phenomenon that produces the ability to thrive despite adversity. Social Capital-This term refers to the sum of the institutions which underpins a society-it is the glue that holds them together. Edu cation, childrens welfare, safe and productive neighborhoods, economic prosperity, health a nd happiness, and democracy are influenced by social capital. Title 1-The purpose is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality educa tion and reach a minimum proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standard s. Meeting the educational needs of lowachieving children, closing th e achievement gap between high-and low performing
20 children and holding schools and local educ ational agencies accountability, through curriculum, training and instructional materi als. Title 1 schools are defined as schools where 35 percent of the students are from low income households. Organization of the Study This next chapter is the Re view of related literature. This will be followed by the methodology chapter, the presentation of the data chapter, the conclusions and interpretative chapter.
21 Chapter Two Introduction and Organization A literature review, according to Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman (2007) is an ongoing conversation among those who do the work of scholarship. A ccording to this metaphor those that join in extend the convers ation by adding their voices to the body of research. The purpose of the l iterature review as pointed out by Piantanida & Garman (1999) should provide even the most uninforme d reader with a conceptual context for understanding the What and So what of th e inquiry (p.103). With this in mind this literature review will attempt to extend th e conversation of the achievement gap by introducing another concept in to the dialogue, resiliency. This literature review is organized to introduce achievement and resili ency and how resiliency can impact the achievement gap between Black and White st udents. It then proceeds to introduce and define resiliency from a non-pathological, soci al deficit model to a protective, cultural asset enhancing model of the Black family, church and community. The purpose of this literature review is to examine existing literature related to the achievement gap and to discuss resiliency as a paradigm shift for educators. Studies have showed that enhancing Black students resili ency can increase their academic success. In the early 1970s, studies of resiliency emer ged from research on children considered at risk for behavioral problems, academic fa ilure, social problems and psychopathology (Masten & Reed, 2002). They discovered these children considered at risk because of
22 environmental factors, traumatic events, and psychology problems, were some of the children who did quite well in lif e. These children were at fi rst called super children or invulnerable, stress-resil ient and resilient. What made them so different, and what factors contribute d to their success despite the odds against them? Researchers be gan to examine risk factors and protective factors to help examine how they move d and navigated their environment to a normative state (Masten & R eed, 2002). Further examples of the idea of the super child were found in the article rese arch done by the Washington Post titled Trouble: a Bubble to Some Kids, and the book review on resi liency in inner-city ch ildren, titled Super Kids of the Ghetto (Masten, 2001). What they found was that resiliency translated to academic success for these children. Resiliency became the new buzz word used by prominent researchers to describe this phe nomenon. More research was done later by Reis, Colbert, and Thomas (2005) in which they conducted a 3 year study to examine academic resilience among thirty-five economically disadvantaged children. A qualitative, cross-case study was undertaken to co llect and analyze data starting with their pre-schooling. The result of the study indicated that despite numerous risk factors, eighteen students in the study developed resili ency. They discussed several factors that contributed to resiliency in th e students: belief in self, a ppreciation of their culture, community support and the presen ce of other support mechanisms that they utilized. At the beginning of the study all were at risk of dropping out or failing in school. The questions the researchers wanted to answ er were (1) what factors do high achieving students identify as contributing to their resi lience? And (2) what f actors may contribute to the inability to display resiliency in under achieving students who ar e at risk. The goal
23 is to examine the concept of resiliency to gain a better unde rstanding of how it relates to Black students and academic achievement. Figure 2.1. Relationship between Resiliency and Academic Achievement Why Resiliency? Reports of the disturbing condition of Black youth continue to capture the attention of policymakers. It is also appr opriate to recognize the desperate social and economic conditions that affect Black students. It is also critica l to study and understand
24 how some youth succeed despite the overwhe lming odds against them. Understanding the concept of resilience provides information that can help administrators; teachers and policymakers design more effective school environments and in tervention models. Trends show that academic dispari ties between Black students and other racial/ethnic groups are complicated by many factors, including family poverty, limited neighborhood resources, displacement of co mmunities due to ge ntrification and/or government interventions, viol ence, poor self-image, placemen t into lower-track classes and often community hostility towards the current public education system. These disparities contribute to the academic achie vement gap. Historically, these disparities have challenged Black students ability to survive, cope and sustain resiliency. Researchers are looking at how social-cultural assets can be used and embraced so Black children can become their own advocates for ch ange including inside the education arena and in their external environment. My goal with this discussion is twofold: develop a theory of resiliency from a non-pathologizing/social conflict perspective and demonstrate the implications of this perspective for educational lead ers in developing a culture of transformation for helping close the achievement gap and giving the tool s of inquiry and resistance to Black youths (Ungar, 2005). Delpit (1995) eloquently ela borates about the good in tentions of some educators who have adopted the soci o-pathologically model of thinking: The worldviews of many in our societ y exist in protected cocoons. These individuals have never had to an adjustment from home life to public life, as their public lives and the institutions they have encountered merely reflect a reality these individuals have been schooled in since birth. When these privileged
25 individuals-and they are pr ivileged, whether they real ize it or not-see others who operate from a different worldview, they can often comprehend them only as deviants, pathologically inferior, certai nly in need of fixing. Even when individuals believe themselves to have good intentions, their own biases blind them from seeing the real people before them (p. 74). As the author stated, this viewpoint only see the problems and not the richness of diversity that these students possess, they are viewed as objects, non-conformist, misfits without any redeeming qualities. My work with low-performing students he lps me develop a different perspective on the role of resiliency and how changes w ithin a school can help transform and impact their self-worth, values, and, by extension, the achievement gap. Resiliency as a construct is about challenging the prevailing beliefs a bout Black students and the inequalities that exist within the educational settings as a refl ection of society. Beliefs that Black students arent interested in educati on, that they cant learn, that their social environments and place in society are pre-determined, that only a few can make it, these beliefs, attitudes, policies must be challenged. Another View: Pioneers of Resiliency The concept of resiliency for human ps ychological development is a relatively new and exciting advancement in helping us understand how some individuals strive despite adversity. Around the late sixties and early se venties a group of pioneer, developmental scientist studied the risk factor s contributing to at-ris k children and their psychopathic behaviors. Nevert heless, these children succee ded in life (Masten, 1999). These pioneers argued successfully that understanding such phenomena, the study of
26 resiliency, could hold the key to informing progr ams, policies, and interventions directed at promoting competence and alleviating pr oblems in the lives of children (Masten, 1999). These researchers helped inspire thr ee decades of resear ch on resiliency in developmental psychology that has provided models, methods, theories and data with emphasis on research and intervention. There have been several important studies done over the past seventy years that have given validity to the study of resiliency. Those studies have paved the way for developi ng comprehensive approaches for those individuals considered at-risk, a large percentage of those individuals are Black students (Darling-Hammond, 2003). What we do know now is that students are more successful when they experience a broad, challenging, a nd engaging curriculum, when they feel connected to their school and broader community, and when schools are safe and trusting places where adults make connecting relationships with them. Resiliency: A Paradigm Shift The phenomena of resiliency in the face of adversity has been studied for a very long time, as evident in myths, fairytales and fables that tell the story of how people triumph over adversity to inspire others. Resi liency has served as a powerful tool in the development of the human spir it to succeed against all odds. The foundation for the concept of resilien cy had begun to take shape as far back as the 19th and early 20th centuries. Clearly, researchers had begun to grapple with what factors allowed people to overcome hostile e nvironments and still become productive citizens while others succumbed to those sa me factors (Walker & Avant, 2005). Part of how this dilemma was solved was to pose va lid questions to find reliable measures and track the observations over a period of time. One way this was done was through
27 longitudinal studies that examined huma n behavior, such as developmental and environmental factors. How do children born at risk for serious problems develop despite adverse biological conditions? In former time s, psychologists often focused on those who could not overcome adversity. Prior to the er a of the 60s, the focus was on the treatment of symptoms that individuals faced as a result of adverse co nditions. It wasnt until the early 1980s that researchers began to tu rn away from the negative problems individuals faced. That approach was best summed up by Murphy (2006) who stated, it is something of a paradox that a nation whic h has exulted in its ra pid expansion and its scientific-technological achievements should ha ve developed in its studies of childhood so vast a problem literature. This criticism helped shape a paradigm shift from one of a problem approach to a more nurturing em brace recognizing individual strengths. This approach embraces those positive characteristics of resiliency. A prerequisite for the success of any theo ry, including resiliency, is the need for an accurate definition and operation of the term. The meaning of resiliency and its operational definition has been the subject of considerable debate and controversy over the years (Masten, 1999). Nonethel ess, there is little dispute that there are individuals most people would consider resilient by almost any definition. Resiliency can be thought of as an enduring characteristic of a person, a situational or temporal interaction between a person and the context as it can be applied to social, academic, or other settings (Cicchetti & Garmezy, 1997). Res iliency is a multifaceted phenomenon that produces the ability to thrive despite adversity. The term is derived from Latin roots meaning, to jump or bounce back (ChangeWi se, 2007). It can also be defined as the capacity to rebound from adversity, misfortune, trauma, or other tr ansitional crisis of life,
28 such as death, divorce and physical or emo tional illness. Many researchers are now redefining resiliency as a process with a dyna mic character (Rutter, 2000). For example, resiliency operates both passively, through a persons ability to withstand and overcome traumatic situations, and actively, by shapi ng the environment to minimize a persons interaction with trauma and possibly leave the negative envi ronment for a more positive, rewarding one. In the early publications on re siliency and in the press about children doing well despite adversity, successful hi gh-risk children were referred to as invulnerable stress-resi stant, or resilient. Eventual ly, resilient became the most prominent term for describing such individuals. In one of the ongoing debates, attempting to define resiliency, the literature has tended to focus on whether the criteria should include good, int ernal adaptation, (positive psychological well-being versus emo tional distress and problems) as well as good external adaptation. However, according to both camps external adaptation standards best define resiliency. Some rese archers, however, include indicators of emotional health and well-being as additiona l defining criteria, whereas others study the internal dimensions of behavi or as predictors of resilienc y. In defining resiliency, the debate of its meaning reflects the duality of nature and living systems. (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). For example, almost a centu ry ago, Freud described the role of the ego in dualistic terms, with the goal of main taining internal well-b eing (self-preservation) while also tending to the exp ectations of life in society (Freud, 1960) Human beings are living organisms that must maintain cohe rence and organization as a unit and also function as part of larger systems, such as families and communities. Therefore, it would be fair to say that resiliency is a multifacet ed theory with many different tentacles.
29 Nurturing/Thematic Approach As stated earlier, the first view of res iliency inquiry focused on the paradigm shift from looking at the risk factor s that led to psychosocial pr oblems in individuals to the identification of strengths in individuals (Ben son, 1999). By some researchers this view is called the first wave theory. Research ers emphasize the importance of identifying individuals as well as environmen tal factors that are associated with resilient children and adults. The outcome of this view looked at th e assets individuals de veloped as they grew through adversity (such as self-esteem and se lf-efficacy). These resilient characteristics have been referred to as protective factor s or developmental assets. According to researchers, developmental assets are extr emely important in he lping youth transition smoothly from adolescence to adulthood (Benson, 1999). If along the pathway to adulthood a breakdown occurs, the individual will be at risk for further problems unless it gets fixed. Part of understanding the de velopmental asset framework understands that adolescents need a clear sense of the rules or limits in the various settings in which they live and interact; as they grow and de velop the rules and limits change. The developmental asset framework identifies six boundaries and expecta tions, assets that help youth develop into positive social adults The first boundary is identified as the family boundary. Family boundary states that cl ear rules and consequences are necessary; the family monitors the young persons wh ereabouts. The second boundary is the school boundary; it provides clear rules and conseque nces (Benson, 1999). The third is the neighborhood boundary: neighbors take respons ibility for monitoring young peoples behavior. Fourth is the adult role model: parents and other adults model positive and responsible behavior. The fifth boundary is char acterized as positive peer influence, when
30 friends model responsible behavior. The sixt h boundary is, high expectations, from both parents and teachers encouraging young people to do well (Benson, 1999). The two factors that researchers in this framew ork emphasized were ne ighborhood boundaries and adult role models, particularly in urban areas and among Black youth. In the past, the neighborhood was directly and indirectly re sponsible for helping youth maintain high levels of academic achievement, higher le vels of high school graduation, decreased juvenile delinquency and decreased violent crimes. For Black youth, the community has played an important role in maintaining st ability for families in poverty and providing protection from external factors such as unfair living condition s in urban areas. However, with gentrification in many urban settings social disintegra tion of communities (Brewster, 1994) has helped to hamper or de stroy those life lines that existed before. Examining adult role models, however, was important in helping Black youth because, many of the adult role models acted as part of an extended network of family and friends. They were similar to mentors and coaches who helped navigate Black youth through difficult life stages, directly and indirectly. For example, they helped reduce smoking among Black youth and decreased problem behavi or. However, the mentors roles today are problematic because of displacement of communities, increased joblessness, increased incarceration and an increasingly blea k forecast for the future. Nonetheless, this framework helped set the stage for understa nding how youth navigate into adulthood with positive influences. The next section helps us understand some of the factors that helped youth develop despite internal and external problems and how they became resilient. The foundation for this extraordinary understanding was the pioneering work done by Werner (1982) and her colleagues who did a longitudinal study by examining
31 children for 40 years. Her work became kno wn as the Kauai study. She began her study in 1955, looking at a multiracial population of children designated to be at high risk for life success due to four major categories of environmental factors. According to the study, 200 of the total 700 children were at risk because of prenatal stress, poverty, daily instability, and serious parental mental stre ss and health problems. They looked at the developmental consequences of life as a resu lt of the negative risk factors the children were exposed to during their lives. They followed them until age forty and one of the major outcomes was that many of them exhi bited resiliency and protective factors. Protective factors are influences that modify, ameliorate or alter a persons response to some environmental hazard that predispos es to a maladaptive outcome (Rutter & Carlson, 1997). These researcher s suggested that protective factors emerge from three areas: family, individual, and external supports, which is si milar to the developmental asset framework. There are other protective fact ors that other researchers use such as: 1) church and organizations and 2) the ability to relate to support pe ople, i.e. teachers, neighbors, and other adults. According to the Kauai long itudinal study (Werner, 1994), one-third of these children overcame their developmental and environmental odds and developed coping skills. Light was shed on many factors that helped them become successful at different stages of their devel opment, thus, a methatheory of resiliency was born. Werners phenomenology (a qualit ative study, 1955) included personal characteristics such as being female, so cially responsible, ad aptable, tolerant, achievement oriented, a good communicator, an d having good self-est eem. Werner, also found that a care giving environment both insi de and outside the families helped young people thrive in the face of adversity. Werner and her colleagues also found that those
32 children in the study had coping skills. She cal led this the second wave view. The second wave focused on the process of coping with stressors, challenges and adversity that resulted in fortification and enrichment of protective factors. The outcome of the second wave described the reintegrative process of acquiring the qualities of resiliency. Resilient reintegration refers to the coping proce sses that result in growth, knowledge, selfunderstanding, and increased stre ngth of resilient qualities. The second wave wanted to answer the question of how resilient tendencie s are acquired. This wave further explained that people, through planned disruptions, or by reacting to life events, have the opportunity to choose consciously or uncons ciously, the outcomes of disruptions. The study discovered through observation and the childrens anec dotal notes that internal factors play an importa nt role in resiliency; this b ecame known as the third wave of resiliency. This third wave view b ecame the framework of looking at innate motivational factors. This framework looked at the motivational fact ors that individuals or groups acquire to become successful. The outcome of the third wave of resiliency, enabled practitioners to develop strategies to help individuals w ho exhibited atrisk behavior. Their goal was to he lp them discover/re-discover and apply self-actualization skills to move to a state of resiliency and to apply those learned strategies in future situations when needed. According to the theo ry of the third wave, resilient reintegration requires increased energy to perpetuate because it is innate or internal. The questions that led to the third wave of resiliency inquiry were: What and where is the energy source or motivation to reintegrate resiliently? One of the key sources of this energy is from a spiritual source or innate resilience. Resear chers viewed this theory as controversial because it was based on a view that required individuals to believe in a higher power
33 which is non-scientific. The third wave theory of resiliency focuses on the belief that there is a force within everyone that drives him to seek self-actualization, altruism, wisdom and harmony via a spiritual source of strength. This theory will be further explored in the section that discusses the ro le of the church on the Black family and community and if and how resiliency has sust ained or hindered the Black family. Various disciplines have used the third wave of re siliency to explore the human nature and resiliency; for example, the view from physics suggests that at the s ubatomic level of life, matter and energy come from the sun, the osc illations from the earth, plant life, light, music, animals and other forms of living and non-living things. This is often referred to as the quanta of energy. According to physics (Richardson, 2002) quanta fill the immensity of the atmosphere as well as each habitant of the world. For example, at a personal level, an individual may be experien cing some emotional or physical distress in his life; however, when that individual is e xposed to an external source of energy or perceived energy there is a change. This en ergy could come from engaging in prayer, a surprise visit from an unexpected loved one, viewing a beautiful natural setting, etc. which causes the emotional or physical distre ss disappears. From phys ics, we learn that this quanta is the energy require d for resiliency reintegration. Similar to the nurturing thematic approac h, (third wave) that focused on a source that came from an external power, Werner and Smith (1998) also de scribed the ecological resilience as an innate sel f-righting mechanism (p. 202). Individuals oper ating within this type of resilience are able to ch angeregardless of their risk factors. Most believe their strength comes from their God or a creative force. Ken Wilber (1996) succinctly stated, The vast majority of the great philosophers of the west have
34 maintained that there does indeed exist some sort of Absolute, from the good to God to Geist. It is believed that having such a faith in a higher existence fortifies the immune system of the body in addition to increasing se lf-efficacy and other resiliency qualities. In summary, the third wave of resilience hypothe sizes that ecological sources provide or trigger resiliency in people. The force or ener gy that drives a person from survival to selfactualization has been called quanta, chi, spirit, God or resilience. Constructionist View of Resilience Another aspect of the nurt uring thematic approach is the constructioni st view of resiliency. Most research on resiliency has been labeled as an ecologi cal approach with a strong foundation in Systems Theory which emphasizes predictable relationships between risk and protective factors (Ungar, 2008). A constructionist view of resiliency has a strong philosophical foundation in postmodern understanding. Postmodern constructs argue that the ecol ogical view is inadequate to account for the diversity of peoples experiences, such as culture, struct ural relationships with in society, social relationships and institutions. Th is view argues that the postm odern view reflects a better understanding of how resiliency is expresse d by individuals, families and communities. According to Ungar (p. 344), a definition of a co nstructionist view stat es that the theory is non-systemic, a nonhierarchical relationship between risk and prot ective factors in which relationships between factors are chaotic, complex, relative and contextual. A postmodern perspective argues that those with the most power to control social discourse influence our definition of health and illness. For example, within an ecological view, resilience has been defined as health despite adversity (Masten, 2001). In contrast, a constructionist approach to resiliency defines resiliency as the outcome from
35 negotiations between individuals and their environments fo r the resources to define themselves as healthy amidst conditions coll ectively viewed as adverse. Within the constructionist approach on resiliency is the Social Justice model which views resiliency as a multifaceted understanding of how individua ls and communities can negotiate their environments. The postmodern perspective also grew out of the so cial conflict theory because it also recognizes the need for t hose individuals who are oppressed and or marginalized to seize contro l over their own environment and learning. The students are given the tools to help them construct their learning as opposed to being instructed. The teacher acts as the facilitator by giving the students the framework within to explore and develop. This framework gives credence to th e oppressed/marginalized by allowing their values to be placed in the center of curriculum development as opposed to the teacher values. This model takes a holistic approach of looking to at-risk youth, especially minorities, and for this context, Black youth. The model de-emphasizes the individual but understands that people live w ithin society and, as such, they look at the influences of their environment. This approach also rec ognizes the influences of community, peers, media, school and policy. Rather than looking to correct deficiencies in the adolescents themselves, this approach turns the a ttention to creating healthy and supportive environments (National Research Council, 1998). As stated earlier, the traditional approach on risk-taking be havior has engendered a prim ary emphasis on measuring and preventing problem behavior rather than on strengthening and deve loping assets. It has contributed to a focus on attempting to cha nge individual behavior without looking at other factors such as economics, social and environmental concerns.
36 The Social Justice-Based model was developed as an outgrowth of a study on overwhelmed clients that were being trea ted (Hopps, Pinderhughes, & Shankar, 1997). These models centered on helping individuals develop positive assets to assist them in attaining self-efficacy, personal mastery and co mpetent adaptive behavior. Moreover, this model recognized the disparitie s of society in terms of hea lth care, housing, the criminal justice system, juvenile incarce ration and other social policie s. Justice-based policies call for the elimination of inequality and the expansion of equality and also community building and advocating justice-based social policy. This model supports resiliency and encourages justice-based social interventions that will help alleviate some of the concerns of poverty and at-risk indicators, social and class conflicts th at will lead to empowerment of the individual that will result in su pport of the community. Another model that supports resiliency and community assets is called the Socia l Capital Model, this is a relatively new and exciting approach to unders tanding how community assets can be used to support resiliency (Bandura, 1997). This next section will dissect the postmodern view in more detail as it reflects a better understa nding of how the churc h, the family, and the Black student develop resilience. The Role of Spirituality as it Relates to Resiliency What role does spirituality play in res iliency? According to Werner (1999), during her longitudinal study she observed that chil dren from a variety of backgrounds and communities establish stability and meaning in th eir lives especially in times of hardship, through their religious beliefs. Another research er describes spiritua lity as an important tool. Black children relied heavily on as a su rvival mechanism (Coles, 1990). One of the mechanisms through which the Black church may promote resiliency is the nurture of
37 spirituality. Among the African descent, accord ing to Hill-Lubin, ( 1991), spirituality and acceptance of a higher power pervades lifes a ffairs it has been identified as a common cultural value. Hale-Ben son (1998) characterized the spiritua lity of Blacks as a key factor in coping with stressful events. Therefore, th e church is often discussed as a potential community-level asset and a source of protective factors. Throughout its history the church has served as a powerful front in the socialization of competence or resiliency for Blacks. Some empirical evidence suggest s a relationship between socialization experiences emanating from the Black church and a number of positive developmental outcomes (Brown & Gary, 1999). The Black church is often perceived as a lifeline and a healthy way of coping with the trials of everyday life. The church uses metaphors and biblical scriptures to illust rate how to overcome adversity by relating the stories in the bible to everyday struggles. In this context the spiritual concepts are extended from the personal to a broader, community context. Akinyela (1996) argues that the church ha s played an important role in forging a cultural identity within the Black community, and this role has contributed to a unique generational form of resistance and resilienc y. According to Akinyela the power of the church for Blacks grew organically from the experience of an enslaved people. The religious lessons and traditions developed in hidden brush meetings provided the form and very often the content of Black resi stant/resilience. This sense of connectedness provided a strong foundation in forging Black consciousness and hope in a hostile country. The church is looked upon as an asset th at is unique in the history of the Black experience and as one protective factor that researchers often look at when discussing atrisk youth. The next section will move aw ay from the individua l characteristics of
38 resiliency and look at resilien cy from the framework of the family unit and how the family has played an importa nt role for the Black youth. The Family From the perspective of the nurturing them atic approach to resiliency the family plays a central role. The family, particularly for Black youth, is crucial for understanding the concept of protective factors needed to overcome adversity. Key characteristics of resilient families include warmth, affe ction, cohesion, commitment, and emotional support. Resiliency as defined by the family structure is the ability of the family to respond positively to an advers e situation to and emerge from the situation feeling strengthened, more resourceful, and more c onfident than its prior state. Many family researchers have recognized that family re silience is a multidimensional construct which is a key component of family resilien ce (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). The first dimension is the length of the adverse situ ation faced by the family. The situation could be short-termed, referred to as a challeng e, or long-term, refe rred to as a crisis (Buckley et al., 1997). Challenges often requ ire adaptation, whereas, crises are chronic situations that require adjustment. They ar e major changes that significantly affect the familys operation. A second dimension of resilience is the life stage during which the family encounters a challenge or cris is (Cicchetti & Garmezy, 1998). The life stage influences the type of challenge or crisis a family ma y encounter at a given time and the strength of the family to successfully cope and emerge fr om it. The third dimens ion of resilience is related to the internal or external sources of support that a family uses during a challenge or crisis. For example, the Black families of ten turn to their extended family, social
39 agencies or the church for that external suppor t. Internally, if the primary parents cannot navigate their environment successfully, othe r kin (grandparents, cousins, siblings) may step in. Resilient families generally have reasonable and clear-cut expectations for their children. They particip ate in family celebrations, share spiritual connections, and have specific traditions and predictable routines (McCubbin et al., 1997). A key, initial step toward fostering family resilience is identifyi ng the existing and potenti al skills, attitudes, and other resources that may enhance the fam ilys overall growth and response to adverse circumstances. According to Simons (2005), such an approach runs counter to the traditional deficit-based models of assessment that dominate training and practice because often their focus is on identifying and analyzing family pathology and dysfunction. The following table helps clarify the difference between traditional resilience practice and resili ence-oriented understanding of the family as a unit. Aspect Traditional Resilience-Oriented Focus and purpose Diagnose and correct family dysfunction utilize family resources Role of diagnosis Prerequisite for effec tive treatment Unnecessary for effective treatment Role of assessment Gather information from th e past to identify Identify potential family strengths Pathology and resources View of problem Problems indicate underlying family Problems indicate unsuccessful solution attempts (family is struck) Pathology (i.e. family is sick) View of family Family is deficient and requ ires extrafamilial Family is resourceful and capable Expertise and intervention of marshalling their own Role of practitioner Expert Collaborator Figure 2.2 Understanding the Family. (Simons, Murphy, & Smith, 2005).
40 Figure 2.2 Understanding the Family. (Simons Murphy, & Smith, 2005) (continued). Language Deficit-oriented Strength-oriented Source of treatment Intervention originate fr om the practitioner Interventions originate from the familys strength and resilience Nature of treatment Problem-focused, pathology-driven remediation Solution-focused, Use of external support Minimal use of external supports and resources Liberal use of external Supports and resources Desired outcomes Decreased family dysf unction Increase family resilience The above table illustrates how the tradi tional model of resiliency has shifted from the deficit model of the family to the more positive model of building assets of the family. The family under the traditional model is problem-laden and the family plays a passive role in its own recovery. On the othe r hand, a resiliency m odel places the family in the center of its recovery by helpi ng members recognize their own strengths and resources. The role of the family in resiliency research has also opened the door to another asset of resiliency th at is extremely important in understanding at-risk Black children; it is the role of culture. In the cont ext of resiliency, culture has been treated as either a confounding variable or the focus of a detailed study in order to understand how cultural minorities vary in their functioning from more mainstream groups (Boyden & Mann, 2005). Social Cultural Assets The need to understand the role of culture in childrens develo pment began in the middle of the twentieth century with the work of such anthologists and cross-cultural psychologists as John and Beatrice Whiting (1 997). This was followed by more recent work, such as Michael Coles (1996) among others. Unfortunately, though well regarded and recognized as significant, this framework for a very long time was relegated to the
41 margins of mainstream developmental work. However, more recently, within the last twenty years, there has been a shift in l ooking at socio-cultural in fluences on children. The results of these scholarly works have de manded that researchers look at a fourth wave of resiliency research, one that is sensitive to culturally embedded definitions of positive development found in both western and non-western countries (Boyden & Mann, 2005). A culturally embedded understanding of resilience has appear ed in a number of recently published qualitative studies dealing w ith resilience (Ugar, 2003). This shift has been, in part, driven by compelling scholarly and clinical contri butions that have indicated that universal assumptions about development do not equally explain all processes and pathways of development for al l populations. For exampl e, the variation in causal roots of outcomes between and within populations of different ethnic backgrounds suggests, for instance, that which might cause a Spanish-speaking child to display certain behaviors in a particular cont ext can be significantly differe nt from what might cause a Black child to display the same behaviors in similar situations. Historically, developmental research and its applications in th e United States have considered the child-rearing valu es, attitudes, practices, and norms of the dominant White middle-class culture to be optimal for child development (Garcia, Coll, & Meyers, 1998). These parenting and developmental characteristics have served as the yardstick against which all populations are compared and cont rasted (Patterson & Garwick, 1999). Parents from different ethnic backgrounds have been urged to adopt these characteristics of parenting and have been shar ply criticized when their childs development has not mirrored that of White, middle-class children. Using White, middle class behaviors as the normative standards has been a
42 disservice to both scientific i nquiry and to the interests of other ethnic groups on many counts. Bronfenbrenner (1998) argues that when minority groups are compared to majority groups, they are most typically judg ed as inferior. Thus, the classification of cultural differences as deviance has dominate d most of the child development literature despite the fact that what is considered normative parenting and development for White, middle-class populations has changed over ti me. Finally, Levine (1997) has provided a useful framework for understanding the deve lopment of care giving environments in different cultures. He proposes that child-rearing t echniques depend to a certain extent on the nature of the instrumental competencies in dividuals are expected to master in a given culture. Accordingly, adults try either too consciously or unconsciously to hammer the cognitive, linguistic, motivational, and social competencies that are deemed relevant to their cultural milieu. Levine also suggested that parental care reflec ts the opportunities as well as the hazards of their historically constructed environments and represents a compromise that has been reached in the pursuit of multiple goals. Thus, today, pioneering researchers have begun to look at cu lture not as abnormal, but as an asset. Researchers attribute this understanding thr ough studies done within U.S. society from the lens of the oppressed population. For exampl e, what is the social cost of coming to know that people of your own background ar e considered dumb, or ugly, no good, or lazy? What is the cost of thinking that your teachers do not care if you learn and do not expect you to succeed because of your cu ltural background? What are the costs associated with these experiences to an individuals health, well-being, and developmental outcome? How should these di fferences be understood and applied? In looking at at-risk Black children a nd other minorities, a new construct for
43 resilience has surfaced called cult ural resilience. This view is part of the framework of the social cultural assets of at-risk Black youth. This theory proposes looking at the beliefs, values, and community to overcome the negative influences of oppression, abuse, poverty, violence and racial discrimination (Masten, 2001). The idea behind this new construct is that Blacks and other minorities possess unique cultural a ttributes that have been forged through adversity in the form of racial oppression. A great contributor to the idea of cultural resiliency has been Freire ( 1993) whose work has been used extensively in critical pedagogy. Freire says resilience to oppression is fost ered through what he calls the cultural circle of influence; words a nd symbols from a common language and culture help empower their communities. These word s, metaphors, or proverbs evoke thoughts and feelings or reveal an hi storical point of view that has meaning to the group members that is different from the ma instream group. Growth through the cultural circle assists the group members to overcome their status as ob jects from outside political, economic, or educational manipulation. Acco rdingly, by stimulating the thinking of people submerged in a culture of silence, the process helps th em emerge as conscious makers of their own cultures, thereby, empowering them to overcome oppression. From this perspective, culture is seen as an extension of a persons environment and should be viewed as transforming, enduri ng and protective of a people collectively viewed as oppressed. Understanding the unique cultural contributions of marginalized peoples should help practitioners understa nd and provide the support needed to overcome the destructiveness of intergenerational and internalized/ext ernalized oppression. Cultural resilience is hope, courage, faith and persistence (HeavyRunner, 1997). Cultural resilience comes from the experien ces of people who have had to overcome
44 extraordinary conditions to live. To successfu lly foster and understand the unique cultural assets of others, practitioners and policy ma kers must be willing to abandon their own cultural biases and expectations. It is essent ial to focus on those attributes that have consistently sustained those that are viewed collectively as oppresse d. The first charge is to examine systemic beliefs, determine coll ectively what programs of empowerment are needed and to abandon a onesizefits all philosophy for Black and other at-risk students. A consortium cohort of authors has chal lenged the notion of homogeneity in healthy behaviors, arguing that from behind the critical lens of culture, gender and race sometimes negative and troubling behaviors are, in fact, signs of health in specific contexts (Sullivan, 1995). Far from justifying these behaviors, the researchers challenge is to understand and encourage th e participation of those that are defined as marginalized to help construct a framework that is refl ective of their beliefs and values. How can resiliency help mediate the achievement gap? The introduction of Blacks to the United St ates was in the form of slavery. That impact remains the single most defining historic al challenge that Blac ks have had to deal with as a people while attempting to forge an identify for themselves and their children in a hostile society. The notion that Blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites was discredited long ago; howeve r, that unspoken view is a remnant of slavery and oppression. The racism that pervades soci ety in the United States, although often perceived as a Black and White issue, is ma nifested in many different ways. In recent years, some research has found that prejud icial and stereotypical attitudes towards minority groups, and particularly toward Blacks, have been diminishing (Dovidio &
45 Gaetner, 1999). However, another body of work suggests that a more covert and subtle form of racism persists. Therefore, the ster eotypes held about Blacks in the United States may have changed in nature rather than diminished. As stated earlier, most of the empirical research on the Black community, family and youth can be classified into one of two broad approaches. This predominate view is often referred to as the pat hology/disorganization model, wh ich categorizes and evaluates the problems and weaknesses of the Black fami ly using the norms of the majority White community as the yardstick. The results of this approach describe the Black family (Nelson, 1984) as having deficits such as absent fathers, crime ridden communities, high juvenile delinquency, low income status a nd severe poverty. In th is article, Melvin Nelson (1997) dispels that a pproach by stating, the pathol ogical/disorganization view assumes the behavior of the White majority is superior and norma tive; and secondly, the class, culture and values of the white majo rity and Blacks are equivalent; and Blacks represent a homogeneous group. Accordi ngly, as summed up by the author, these assumptions fail to investigate Black families within their own cultural or historical context. The family within the Black community has historically played an important role of protection/protector for its members in a perceived hostile environment. Even in the face of relentless attacks the family still remains a fortress in promoting resiliency. During the early part of the 60s, research began to shift and look at the concept of strength/resilience. For some, this departure, from the negative to the positive approach was a more accurate source because it took into account those characteristics within the Black cultural context that enab led the Black family to surmount adverse conditions and situations, namely through diffe rent avenues of support that help promote
46 resiliency, such as the extended family. The ex tended family is defined (Hill, 1998) as the relative of an individual by both blood and marriage, includ ing, uncles, aunts and others within the community. Wilson (2000), who di d extensive research on kinship care looking at disadvantaged Black youths, finds that these relationships provide social support which helps support healthy fam ily functioning and child resiliency by alleviating stress. Sources of social suppor t for Blacks often include extended family members, extra-familial ties, community relationships, kinship networks, and the church What these researchers found is that kinshi p ties are often more prevalent among lowincome single-parent families; however, upwardly mobile Blacks also use extended support networks and interact more frequently with this network of support when under high stress. Another researcher (Freiberg, 1994), looking at the Black family/community has called this support system a social subsys tem. According to B illingsley (1968), the Black family is a social subsystem mutually interacting with subsystems in the Black community and in the wider White society. This framework, according to Billingsley, allows for the Black family and community to retain its uniqueness and cultural framework while still moving back and forth when necessary to interact with other cultures. This subsystem helps promote fa mily/community and individual resiliency because it draws upon other kinships to me diate adversity caused by drug abuse, high employment, poor housing, incarceration and violence. What role does the community play in resiliency among youth and adults? Blyth and Roelkepartian (1999) state that Black co mmunities provide seve ral key strengths. First, a strong community has opportunities for participation in community life. For example, social organizations, such as extracurricular activities, church activities, youth
47 sports, and youth groups help to bond youth to their communities. In these settings, they can learn important skills such as teamwor k, group pride, or leader ship. This is also important for the adults as well; it is an interlocking relationship. Resiliency is more likely when there is access to a role model, a friend, a caring adult or confidant. Bridging the Gap through Resiliency For many years psychologists, sociologist s and educators focused their attention on prevention to support marginal students. Preventive factors reverse adverse factors that place them at-risk for educational outcome s. In recent years, a paradigm shift has occurred as researcher attention began to focus on identification factors that develop resiliency to help Black student s achieve academic success. Berliner and Bernard (2001), among others, strongly recommend that educ ational leaders suppor t this alternative policy approach which utilizes development of protective f actors as a framework to empower students to academic achievement. The idea is that the focuses on protective factors help students survive a precarious environment, as op posed to fixing the student, thus viewing the student and community as char ity cases. Resiliency research identifies the specific factors and be liefs of successful teachers who use the framework of resiliency to help close the achievement gap. Waxman, Padon, and Gray (2004) provide a comprehensive approach to educational resi liency factors and th eir role in supporting academic achievement. They recognized resilie ncy as an intervention framework that can successfully promote skills and characteris tics associated with student success in school (Waxman et al., p.4). They reject the model of risk orientation as the primary focus of educators attempting to remediate sc hool failure. Resilience is offered by one of the authors as a strength based approach to a global view of the whole child, not a given
48 point in time per se, but long term, as it evolves over ones life (Brown, 2004, p. 22). Research in Educational Diversity and Excellence (2004) is divided into three sections and provides a broad overview of empirical research in educational resiliency, factors that promote student resili ency and enhancement of resiliency through school and community partnership efforts. The author st ressed four protective f actors that cultivate academic resiliency: caring, hi gh expectations, purposeful support, opportunities for meaningful participation, and effective instruction. A common finding of resiliency research identifies the role of teachers (Werner & Smith, 1999), and states among the most frequently encountered positive role mode ls in the lives of ch ildren .outside of the family was the favorite teacher. Resiliency re search also takes into consideration the complex interrelationships that characteri ze the development and functioning of the resilient individual and the protective mech anism (family, school and community) that foster such factors of resiliency. Much of that research has centered on the search for resilience-promoting strategies or protective mechanisms that magnify the circumstances within which the burden of adversity is reduced and opportunities are advanced for learning. Two major findings from this framework are: forging a greater school connection with families and the community to support resiliency development and student learning; and b) reducing educational segreg ation within schools and implementing responsive and powerful instructio nal practices to ensure learning success of every student. What is important to unders tand is that resiliency research makes the connection between academic achievement and re siliency, realizing that a partnership can be built between schools, community and students. Another important aspect of resiliency research has been the focus on the whole child concept. The National
49 Education Association (2007) also emphasized through its program the need to focus on the whole child under the theme of culture, abilities, resilience and effort (C.A.R.E) (p.3). What is different with this thematic appro ach is that there is recognition of cultural differences and strengths; this strategy calls for differential approach to teaching and how learning occurs; there is an understanding the important protective fact ors that bridge the gap on academic achievement; and educators making meaningful effort to engage the student and families in the educational process of their child. This approach is looking at the whole child. Traditional sc hool reform often focuses on the four main cornerstones for improvement: 1) curriculum, instructi on, and assessment; 2) staff development; 3) family, school, and community engagement; a nd 4) school organization. Current research from the National Education Association ( 2001) emphasizes using the four cornerstones but incorporates research based practices to help close the achievement gap. This approach also has resiliency as a foundation for school reform. In 2004, NEAs leadership placed closing the student achieveme nt gaps at the center of its professional development and policy agenda. An outgrowth was to refocus on providing training and resources to school districts interested in creating partnerships between schools and communities. Emphasis is placed on research based strategies such as C.A.R.E. that challenge educators to meet accountability demands while providing help for the students that need it the most. Finally, C.A.R.E. embraces an agenda that focuses on strategies that have been shown to close the achievement gap, such as using resiliency as a foundation and educating the whole child, as opposed to just focusing on the four cornerstones of reform. Research has shown that children do not de velop and learn in is olation, but rather
50 grow physically, socia lly, emotionally, ethically, expressi vely, and intellectually within networks of families, schools, neighborhoods and their communities. A whole child concept states that the child develops through experience (Barton, 2003). Schools that educate the whole child must be learning orga nizations and not gate keepers, holding cells or extensions of the juvenile court system. They fulfill their mission of providing a quality and meaningful education regardless of background and socio-economic status. For schools and communities to support and promote resiliency, the childs basic needs of security must be met. According to a report done by the Calif ornia Department of Education (2005), when students basic ps ychological needs (safety, belonging, autonomy, and competence) are satisfied, they are more likely to: become engaged in school; act in accord with school goals a nd values; develop social skills and understanding; contribute to the school and community a nd achieve academically. When schools fail to meet these needs we see of academic failure, less motivation, higher dropout rates and more alienation from society. Educational leaders and policy makers mu st ask the question of why the academic failure is so much higher for Black student s. As Noguera and Wing (2006) states, schools must also focus on the role of ideology in producing, sustaining, and legitimizing academic failure (p. 123). These authors raise the question of whether race or class has anything to do with academic failure, and is race the unofficial proxy for academic ability. In other words, those who prefer to place greater emphasis on class in their analysis of the achievement gap often do so b ecause they find more comfort in the idea that the cause of such pronounced differences in academic outcomes is not some form of inherent racial difference or racism. Innate racial differe nces rooted in biology, while
51 proven wrong, have historically served as th e favorite explanati on for disparities in intellectual performance, while racism has tended to receive considerably less attention (Ladson-Billings, 1994). One of the main points that the Crowley v. Pinellas School Board (2000 ) argues is that race is the major c ontributing factor for the academic achievement failure of Black students in Pinellas County. Race and the perception of racism is a thorny issue, which is why many attribute the causes of academic failure to the effects of poverty and the unfortunate in fluences of family background, that is presuming that parents have less education a nd knowhow when it co mes to raising their children. According to Noguera and Wings ( 2006) by attributing the cause of student underachievement to a lack of student effort or deficient family background, the problem can be sadly dismissed as disturbing, while calling for parenting classes and more tutoring for minority students (p.6). Do the re al questions ever get addressed? Certainty the intentions are good, but as the old adage st ates the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Accordingly, the existence of stable and fairly predictable disparities in academic performance that correspond to race and class differences among students is not a new phenomenon. Such differences on standa rdized tests and other measures of intelligence and academic ability have been present since the beginning of testing (Lemann, 1999). Tatum (2007) expounds on th is subject, stating, from the beginning, American construction of race and class have determined who had access to education, and to a large degree those constructions sti ll shape how we think about who can benefit from it (p.40). Systemic structures still exis t, but there are signs of the old order of business as usual are beginning to shift and th e prevailing winds of social change demand concrete and honest dialogue about testing, academic sorting, segregated classes, high
52 suspension rates and academic failure among Blac k students. One change that is talked about throughout the country is forging greater school connections with families and the community to support resiliency development and student learning. Th e other is reducing educational segregation w ithin schools and implementing responsive and powerful instructional practices to ensure rigor in the learning success of Black students. According to Benard (2007), high expectation is a major cornerstone in helping to narrow the achievement gap among Black students; it reflects a teachers deep belief in the students innate resiliency and in his capaci ty to learn. A common finding in resiliency research is the power of a teacher, often wit hout realizing it, to provide the tipping point in turning from risk to resilienc y. Werner and Smith (1989) found: Among the most frequency encountered posi tive role models in the lives of the children outside of the family circle, was a favorite teacher, for the resilient youngster, a special teacher was not just an instructor for academic skills but also a confidant and positive model for personal identification (p.162). Students desire authentic rela tionships, in which they feel cared about, can trust and get the support they need, without prejudgme nt. This, in turn promotes resiliency. According to Benard (1996) closing the achie vement gap depends on teachers providing and contributing to these protective factors, no matter what subject, grade or students they teach. What teachers do matters and can make a difference in the life of students, especially Black students. Benard (1996) talks about how conveying compassion and actively listening sends a powerful message to students that you care. He states for the student it conveys the message you are important in this world; you matter. It is simple but powerful. The recipe for success to prom ote resiliency for the educational leader
53 include the following: high expectations, car ing relationships, provi ding opportunities to participate in meaningful dialogue, a deep be lief on the part of teachers and staff that every child has innate resili ency to develop healthy development and successful learning. Educators must get away from the notion th at some children dont want to learn which contributes to a deficien t model of thinking belief, to beli eving that all children want to learn, despite negative behavior. The follo wing table helps illustrate the point. Figure 2.3. Teacher Resiliencies in Promoting Academic Achievement What this implies is that teachers beliefs play a major role in promoting student achievement and resiliency. Researchers ha ve shown successful leaders and schools can successfully instill positive outcomes for students if educational leaders believe that students can learn and they im plement steps to ensure stud ent-centered strategies. Being student-centered means connecting learning to students lives, using the students own culture, strengths, interest, goals as the starting point for learning similar to what Freire (1960) advocated in his own celebrated res earch regarding margin alized and oppressed children. Similarly, Benard (2007) believes that starting with their strengths, instead of their problems and deficiencies, can enlist stud ents intrinsic motiva tion, keeping them in a hopeful frame of mind to learn and work on any concerns. This provides the student Protective Factors Caring relationships High expectations Opportunities for participation Meet Teachers Needs Safety Respect Mastery Challenge Power Meaning Teacher Resiliency Traits Caring Empathy Humor Problem Solving Self-Efficacy Sense of hope and meaning
54 with assistance from a caring adult to understa nd their own personal power to reframe his life narrative from damaged victim or school failure to resilient survivor and successful student and learner. From the book Closing the Achievement Gap: A Vision for Changing Beliefs and Practices (2003), the author offers powerful strategies to educators who want to reframe their thinking concerning stude nts of poverty and narrowing the achievement gap using resiliency as the framework for change: Sustains a high-expectation climate No excuses/never-give up philosophy Aims to meet developmental needs for mastery and challenge Believes in the innate capacity of all to learn Sees culture as an asset Connects learning to students inte rest, strengths, experiences, goals Employ authentic assessment Uses rituals and traditions Uses a variety of instructional stra tegies to tap multiple intelligences Uses strengths and interests to address concerns/problems Mirrors strengths and interests Helps to reframe self-image from at-risk to at-promise Sees students as constructors of their own knowledge and meaning (Williams, chapter 6). High expectation for the student m eans empowerment, actively engaging in learning and a belief in his own ability to succeed despite odd s or adversity. Toph, Frazier-Maiwald & Krovetz state: supporting the whole child concept through resiliency
55 is based on deeply held beliefs that wh at we do every day in our schools makes differences in their lives (p.223). Resiliency is not a fix all cure for systemic problems in society from lack of health care, poor hous ing, low paying jobs, early death, and policies of disempowerment; rather, it is just a sm all step in looking at the achievement gap.
56 Chapter Three The following discussion describes the me thodology that will be used in this study. This section discusses the qualitative research, the qualitative framework used, research design, purposeful sampling, data colle ction, data analysis, credibility, ethics, the role of the researcher, and the pilot study. Qualitative Research The first day I walked into my Qualitative methods class an epiphany happened. I had found my home; it made sense and helped me determine my direction. The course helped me understand the nuances of qualitati ve research which, in turn, sharpened my analytic skills and gave me the opportunity to immerse myse lf in the various projects. The metaphor I use to describe the qualitativ e research process is similar to how a cook peels an onion. As the top layer is pulled bac k, the first physical react ion is teary eyes; as the cook progresses, the initial shock is repl aced by the sweet smell and the core of the smooth onion, signaling that the work has begun. Similarly, Janesick (2004) expresses the qualitative researcher from her perspective as a former choreographer and dancer . ..I see the role of the researcher as one characterized by discipline persistence, and desire to communicate the findings so as to reflect th e social settings and its members .This is like the dancer who reflects th e dance and the yogini who re flects inner growth and outer physical strength and endurance (p. 8). The di alogue discourse generated in qualitative research is complex, not a onefits all approach, but theoreti cal. There are many layers to
57 uncover, to peel back to reveal the core a nd the essence of the c ontradiction, intriguing, not knowing where you might end up, during the course of dialogue. Every researcher begins with a worldview, some begin with a traditional approach in their quest to undercover answers, and the qua litative researcher understand s that everything is not linear and fits neatly into a particular cluster, and recogni zes there are many avenues to arrive at a particular truth. According to Garman and Pianta nida (1999), some researchers are more strongly aligned with an empiri cal tradition, adhering to epistemological assumptions of a positivist or postpositivist worldview. Others, who share the assumptions of hermeneutics or phenomenology (Willis & Neville, 1996) write within an interpretive tradition. Those concerned with injustic es associated with power relationships and positions of privilege tend to write within a more critical tradition and may draw upon the assumptions of postmode rnism and deconstructivism (p. 43). My approach follows the postmodern field of critical theory and social ju stice to help develop my study and offer a glimpse into my worldview. Phenomenological Framework The purpose of my study is to understand the achievement gap from the perspective of members of th e Beach County community and to determine if there is a common perception or if many perspectives ex ist that can be grouped into themes for further dialogue and analysis. The goal is to formulate a cr itique of their dialogue from the framework of critical theory. The qualitative method chosen is phenomenology. According to Webster dictionary (2006), it is defined as a study of phenomena, it is the philosophical investigation and description of conscious experience in all its varieties without reference to the question of whether what is experienced is ob jectively real. It is
58 safe to say the individual involved will be speaking from his own worldview, experiences and subjective interpretati ons to the data presented. Creswell (1998) states a phenomenological study describes the meaning of the experiences of individuals that encounter a phenomenon or concept under study. Digging deeper, phenomenology as a research method needs to be set in a wide r context of research and what Kuhn (1970) calls a paradigm shift. Accordingly, looking at the achievement gap, there have been many shifts in the world since the early 1970s, when researchers began to look at this phenomenon. Political and social dominance of one ethnic group over others has begun to shift towards inclusion; economic supremacy has given way to global meltdowns for peoples around the globe; and political policie s of global containment have shifted to more conciliatory policies. The spotlight on immigration policies and looking at the achievement levels of Black students could be interpreted as arising out of this paradigm shift. Asking individuals their perspectives on the achievement gap appeared to be an appropriate method for using phenomenology as a qualitative method. However, there are constraints within using this method. This me thod can be described as interpretative and poetic if comparing it to the scientific met hod; however, if working from an emancipator view, the role of the research er is limited. My job is the gather the information, group it into themes and analyze it. My analysis will be based upon the themes gathered from this process to understand how the achievement gap is perceived and how district policies are prescribed by those with power to make decisions. Using the phenomenology approach, data is collected in two ways: focusing on the participants experiences or the researchers experien ce in the phenomenon as an
59 observant of participants (Patton, 2002). The phenomenological approach to data an alysis involves four steps: description, extraction, transformation, and analysis. The researcher first reads all de scriptions in their entirety. These narratives describe the human experience and consciousness of the participants in the study. The researcher extracts significant statements or meaning units from each description. These statements are formulated into meanings, and these meanings are clustered into themes. The researcher integrates these th emes into narrative description. (Creswell, 1998). Kvale (1996) further describes this same process similarly: A phenomenological perspective include s a focus on life world openness to the experiences of the subjects, a primacy of precise descrip tions, attempts to bracket foreknowledge, and a search for invariant e ssential meanings in the description. A dialectical access focuses on the contradic tions of a statement and their relations to the contradictions of the social and material world. There is an emphasis on the new, rather than on the status quo (p36-38). Finally, the phenomenology approach allows for the immersion of the researcher into the lives of the participants to help synthesize their world view and to uncover and explain dialectical contradictions of their s ubjective perspectives that can collide with objective reality. The development of contradict ions is the driving force of change. Kvale
60 (1996) argues that in dialectical thought th ere is an emphasis upon the new, what is under development. He further argues that it is important to uncover the new developmental tendencies in order to obtain true knowledge of the social world. My goal is to understand how influential perspectives hinder or impr ove social progress, to uncover what is prevailing truth on the achievement gap. What are the driving views that are emerging and how can educational leaders help the pr ocess of social change. Presentation of influential individual perspectives will pr ovide the reader the opportunity to gain understanding of their worldvi ew, opinions and observations. Direct quotes from the participants will be used in the study as an attempt to portray the participants as individual entities. Research Design The research design of this study seeks to describe and explain selected district leaders of the Pinellas School Board and co mmunity members and educational members perspectives on the achieveme nt gap between Black and White students. The study will be made up of five individuals and will attempt to answer two major exploratory questions: 1. What are the components of the pers pectives and how they are they formed? 2. What beliefs support or hinder these perspectives? The qualitative researcher begins the pro cess with a philosophical assumption that guides the study. Although the resear ch design is prepared at the beginning of the study, it can change as the subject is deeply explor ed. Creswell (1998) also agrees that our questions change during the proc ess of research to reflect an increased unde rstanding of
61 the problem (p.19). Proceeding from this understanding, the researcher is open-minded and willing to explore new territory in order to go deeper into the subject. The researcher understands the value of inte rviewing and actively listeni ng. According to Janesick (2004) interviewing is a mee ting of two persons to excha nge information resulting in communication and joint constr uction of meaning (p.72). M eaning is determined from listening, probing and analyzing the information gi ven, to give it depth, texture and color. Qualitative research is designed to unde rstand and explain something. In this study, the research searches to understand th e perspectives of District leaders, a community leader and an education instructor in order to better understand the persistent achievement gap. Creswell (1998) st ates that the qualitative re searcher studies things in their natural settings, attempting to make sens e of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them (p.15). With th is in mind the researcher is cognizant of the shifts and of the unexpect ed when beginning the study. Purposeful Sampling Purposeful sampling is essential in qualit ative research because it helps the reader understand the researchers cr iteria and rationale for th e study. Creswell (1998) views purposeful sampling from the perspective of a phenomenological study as a much more narrow range. Participants must experien ce the phenomenon being studied (p.118). He further states that Criterion sampling work s well when all individuals studied represent people who have experienced the phenome non. In studying the achievement gap, the commonalities for all the participants ar e many: all have been impacted by the achievement gap, all have a worldview that in fluences their outcome and all are residents of Beach County.
62 In order to answer the re levant research questions, tw o interviews each for a total of ten will be conducted with five persons who are currently in position of power or influence to make decisions, such as top District leadership, a site based instructor and a community member. While their experience will be varied they all have a stake in the future direction of Beach County students a nd specifically, Black students, to address achievement, high proportion discipli ne referrals and on time graduation rates. I have selected the following to partic ipate in this study: An Associ ate Superintendent district member that oversees the Office of Equal Opportunity who was an former educator and Associate Superintendent in another county and also active in community organizations; Deputy Superintendent of Cu rriculum who implements and design the curriculum used throughout the district; the current Deputy of Economic Development for Franklin, Florida and former chief of police, this w ill serve in the capacity of the community member. His selection is based on his current position and his respec ted work with the Beach County school district, and his advocacy for Black students in Beach County; a parent who currently sits on one of the lo cal high school SAC committees, as well as on the District Monitor Advisory Committ ee for Beach County (DMAC) DMAC was designed to provide input to th e District on the achievement ga p, referral rate and to bring all the stakeholders together; a liaison acting as the bridge between the legal team of Crowley v. Pinellas County School Board ( 2001) and the Black community; and a site based instructor, who will prov ide insight from his perspective working within the Beach County Schools. While these individuals were selected, this study is not limited to their participation. Others can be asked to particip ate if the participants decide to drop out or the perspectives are all similar.
63 Direct quotes will be used from the individuals that will provide the reader the opportunity to gain an understa nding of the perspec tives, observations, and opinions in an attempt to portray the participant as an i ndividual and cross-re ference with current national policies. The cross-references will l ook for similarities, themes, and trends that will help shape this study. This study seeks to describe and explai n if there is a common understanding on why the achievement gap exists; if District policy reflects a unif ied view between the District and community; and if different worl dviews, policies, goals, have an impact on the current state of affairs affecting Black students. According to Delpit (1995) we all carry worlds in our heads, and those worlds are decidedly different. We educators set out to teach, but how can we reach the worlds of others when we dont even realize that our own worlds exist only in our heads and in the cultural institutions we have built to support them( xiv ). That statement simply states, that assumptions, beliefs and stereotypes are often at work even when we as educators arent conscious of our biases. Finally, can a common view be achieved to forge new relationships between the community and District that has historic ally been tension laden and unproductive? The five participants chosen represent a broad sector of the Beacg County School district from top tier leadership who imple ment policy and strategic direction to two community representatives who has been imp acted by the achievement gap; a site based instructor will bring the pers pective of his own experiences values and frustration and class status into the mix. Various levels of educational leadership were identified as a basic to gain deeper insight into the process of collaboration and direction.
64 Table 3.1 Proposed Timeline Completed Coursework Spring 2008 Comprehensive Exam Summer 2008 Doctorate Candidate Fall 2008 Chapter One Introduction September 2008 Chapter Two Literature Review October 2008 Chapter Three Methodology October 2008 Proposal Defense November 21-December 10, 2008 Data Collection Protocol A January 2009-Study Data Collection continues Protocol B January June 2009/ Study Completion of Institutional Review Packet January 2009 Data Analysis December 2009 March 2010 First Draft of Dissertation March 2010 Re-writes of Dissertation April 2010 Dissertation Defense May 2010 Final Copy Completed May 2010 An initial inquiry discussion was held with the potential participants prior to this writing. Upon approval of chapters one, two and three participants will be asked formally to participate and sign an informed consent form. Data Collection Interviews, researcher reflective journa l, researcher fiel d notes, documents, artifacts, and transcripts will be collected. At least two in-depth interviews will be
65 conducted with the participants over a peri od of three months, st arting in January 2009 until March 2009. In an attempt to gather the rich, desc riptive information required for qualitative research, semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions will be used. Benefits of this procedure require participants to be as ked the same questions so that interviewer effects are minimized, allowing for cross analys is and, allowing future researchers to see the instrument used. Kvale (1996) uses the mi ner and traveler metaphor to provide clarity to the role of the intervie wer and participant. In th e miner metaphor, knowledge is understood as buried metal, and the intervie wer is a miner who unearths the valuable metal (p.3). The importance of interviewing is to discover, study, and analyze the findings gathered from the participant. The interviewer unveils and seeks to unearth information to test the data, to understand the experience of the participant from the perspective of the interviewee. The intervie wer helps to generate insights and concepts, search for exceptions and expand unde rstanding of social concepts. There are several types of interviews: t opical oral history, lif e history, evaluation interview, focus group interview, cultural interviews and quali tative interviews. According to Rubin & Rubin (1995), qualitative study is a research t ool; the in terviewer guides the questions and focuses the study. Th e interviewer becomes a student and then tries to get people to describe their experi ences in their own terms. The qualitative researchs philosophy determines what is impor tant, what is ethical, and the completeness and accuracy of the results (p.2). The first step in the data collection will be conducting interviews with the study participants. Thr ough the interviewing pro cess, the researcher encourages the participants, to elaborate provide incidents and clarifications, and
66 discuss events in length (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p. 8). Similar to the onion metaphor the goal is allowing the participants to reveal th e essence of their richness and the core of their worldview. Janesick (2004) reveals that interviewing is a meeting of two persons to exchange information and ideas through questions and responses, resulting in communication and joint construc tion of meaning about a part icular topic (p.72). It is the probing and questioning that will help give meaning to the data, which in term will provide the basis for further conversations and cross references to ga in deeper insight of the participant perspective. Qualitative interviewing requires inte nse listening, a respect for and curiosity about what people say, and a sy stematic effort to really hear and understand what people tell you (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p. 17). Prior to th e first interview, an interview protocol was developed with questions deemed importa nt by the researcher. Kvale (1996) offers seven types of interview questions: introduc ing questions, follow-up questions, probing questions, specifying questions direct questions, indir ect questions, structuring questioning and interpreting questions (p. 135) Janesick states a good rule of thumb for interviewing is to be prepared (p. 73). The following guidelines were offered by Janesick (2004) as a format for prep aring the researcher for interviewing: 1. Be prepared with a tape recorder, tape, and notebook to take field notes while interviewing. 2. Before the interview, check your reco rder and tape to see that both are functional. Test your voi ce on the tape by saying the date, time, place, and name of the participant on the tape. This is helpful later, not only when you do the transcriptions of the tape but also for jogging your memory at a subsequent date. 3. Whenever possible, carry a spare tape recorder, extra tapes, and batteries.
67 Many cases have been described wh ere the tape was malfunctioning, the recorder died, and/or the batteries wore out! 4. If you feel more comfortable giving a copy of the interview questions to your participant. Do so ahead of time. Call ahead to remind and verify the exact date, time, and place of the interview, and arrive early. 5. Always have a back -up plan in case the participant decides to leave the study. (p. 74). The nature of qualitative research is flexible, as participants are being studied in their social settings, it is important to allow m ove for change, so it is important that the interviewer is well prepared to help put the participant at ease. Another tool that the qualitative researcher utilizes is the observation cycle which is a supplement to the data co llected in the interview. Pian tanida & Garman (1999) states the qualitative resear cher live with the phenomenon a nd context of the study, immersing themselves in it and striving to know it as d eeply and intimately as possible (p.144). The researcher seeks to understand the phenomenon as deeply as possibl e to gain essential understanding of the study undert aken. The researcher plans to observe each participant at least twice. Settings for potential obser vation include offices, classroom, board meetings, or other occasions that may seem appropriate. Observations work hand in hand with interviewing because it can provide cr edibility to data collected. Similar to interviewing, observations are a planned me thod of obtaining additional data to help explain and provide background knowledge about a phenomenon or individual being interviewed. Documents, researcher field notes, and a researcher reflective journal and a peer reviewer will also serve as ot her sources of data for this st udy. Field notes and reflective journal were introduced in the Spring 08 class when I did my pilot study for my
68 dissertation. Format for the field notes collect ed during interviews and observations were first suggested by Janesick (2008) as a way to write about my journey and what the researcher learned in the process of wr iting and reflecting upon that experience. According to Janesick (2004), for the qualita tive researcher, the meditative focus of journal writing can only help to refine the researcher as re search instrument (p.95). The reflective journal serves as a means for the re searcher to express emotions and reactions to the study. The reflective journal will be a nother means to identify themes and uncover hidden meanings and further probing. Janesick (2004) also states self-awareness helps to sharpen ones reflection, writing, thinking an d ability to communicate (p.95). It is an invaluable tool for self-discovery in refining th e researcher as the instrument of inquiry to perfect the art of observation, and interviewing. Another com ponent of the research study will be observational notes taken during the interviewing process; it allows the researcher to jot down important information during the in terviewing process that can be invaluable later during the analyzing stag e. Observational notes are useful for generating in-depth descriptions of individuals, se ttings or events for obtaining information that is otherwise inaccessible. The context of background behavior is included in observational notes of both the participant and the researcher and of the environment. It also enables the researcher to describe, interpre t and gain clarity in an effort for the researcher to see the world from the other pe rsons point of view. A peer reviewer is another important element in a qualitative dissertation, according to Janesick (2004), novelists and play wrights also use outside readers to bring a fresh viewpoint, to read for discrepancies and the like (p. 117). A peer reviewer acts similar to an auditor and can become the ex tra eyes of the researcher and add to the
69 richness of the final product. This study will also rely on the peer reviewer for field notes, transcription and the overall dissertation. Protocol A. Questions for study Goal: To collect information on basi c knowledge about the achievement gap 1. Tell me a little about your backgrou nd and your interest in Education. 2. Can you describe for me what it was lik e attending school for you either in an integrated school or desegregated school? 3. What is your understanding of the ac hievement gap and what components do you believe contribute to the achievement gap? 4. What is your perspective on how B each County schools can help narrow the achievement gap? 5. What are your own beliefs on the achievement gap between Black and White students? 6. Do you have any beliefs about how th e achievement gap can be narrowed? Please explain. 7. How do you see Beach County School dist rict dealing with the challenges of the achievement gap? How do you see yourself as influencing this challenge? 8. Do you believe that a childs, strengths, the ability to survive despite risks and adversity can be used to narro w the achievement gap, if so how? 9. Is there anything else you wish to share with me at this time? Upon completion of protocol A, the resear cher will analyze the data from all the participants to determine questions for protocol B.
70 Data Analysis Data analysis is not off-the-shelf; rather, it is custom-built, revised, and choreographed (Huberman & Miles, 1994, p. 142). Qualitative re searchers learn by doing and interpreting what they have writte n about. Thus, qualitative research data analysis is not bound by tradition more about emerging themes and concepts. Rubin & Rubin (1995) explain the, the purpose of the data analysis is to organize the interviews to present a narrative that explains what ha ppened or provide a description of the norms and values that underlie cultu ral behavioral (p. 229). The following steps as provided by Rubin & Rubin (1995) help to explain the process: 1. Coding data, letting interpretations de velop as data is analyzed response by response. 2. Divide data into smaller categories. Reassemble the information into themes or arguments. 3. Figure out the theoretical or policy implications of the data-what broader questions can be answered and what broader insights can be provided. 4. Choose what themes to emphasize in part based on the audience and what they find stimulating, useful, or challenging (p.229). The final stage according to Creswell (1998) the researcher develop a textual description, what happened; develops a structural desc riptions, how the phenomenon was experienced and finally develops an overall description of the experience the essence (p. 149). Rubin & Rubin (1995) says the final stage of an alysis includes an interpretation of the material in terms of th e literature and theories in the researchers field. (p. 251). Accordingly, analysis for this study will begin immediately after the first
71 interview and continue th rough the end of the study. Credibility This study will use multiple sources of data collected from interviews, observations reflected in the researchers fiel d notes, a researcher re flective journal, and relevant documents. The sources of the da ta are central to confirming credibility. Triangulation is a process of verification, checking for trut h that increases validity by incorporating three different viewpoint s and methods. Sevigny (1978) calls a combination of all three stan ces triangulation, a sociolog ical process of viewing a situation from all three perspectives. Th is would include audio taping, interviews, observations and diary writing. A central quest ion for qualitative researcher is whether standards exist and according to Howe and Eise nhardt (1990) suggest that five standards can be applied to all research. First, asse ss a study in terms of whether the research questions drive the data collection and analys is rather than the reverse being the case; second, determine the extent to which the da ta collection and anal ysis techniques are competently applied in a technical sense; third, are the researchers assumption made explicit, such as the researchers own subjec tivity; fourth, is the study robust, warranted and uses respected theoretical explanations ; fifth, the study must have value both in informing and improving practice. (p. 195). The use of multiple data sources confirms the credibility of the study. As the study develops and data is collected, triangulation will be as a means for establishing credibility to the emerging themes or perspectives. Within the phenomenology framework researchers identify fi ve questions that researchers might ask themselves in accessing credibility: 1. Did the interviewer influence the contents of the subjects description in
72 such a way that the descriptions do not truly reflect the subjects actual experience? 2. Is the transcription accurate, and does it convey the meaning of the oral presentation in the interview? 3. In the analysis of the transcriptions were there conclusions other than those offered by the researcher that could have been derived? Has the researcher identified these alternatives? 4. Is it possible to go from the genera l structural description to the transcriptions and to account for the specific contents and connections in the original examples of the experience? 5. Is the structural description situation specific, or does it hold in general for the experience in other situa tions (Moustakas, 1994, p. 57). Credibility in this study will be used as a process of verifying information. Triangulation will serve as a means of validation of data with other collected sources. Role of the Researcher Qualitative research involves study involve s a host of techniques for carry out the study, such as questionnaires, audio-tapi ng, observations, gathering documents and videotaping. Piantanida & Ga rman (1999) state, At the he art of the inquiry is the researchers capacity for encountering, liste ning, understanding, and thus experiencing the phenomenon under investigation (p.140). Janesick (2004) use the analogy of stretching in describing the role of the qua litative researcher I n order to stretch, the qualitative researcher must be able to arti culate the role of th e researcher as the underlying harmony or spirit of the study (p.103 ). The researchers role is to immerse
73 into the study, to experience the complexities of the participant and maintain integrity and balance throughout the study. This researcher has had a passion for understanding the achievement gap and was not satisfied with the simplistic answers give n. Today, it is essential to have an open and honest dialogue about the achievement ga p, notwithstanding how uncomfortable the dialogue is. Scholarly researchers can pr edict based on reading scores, parental educational level, and test scores, who will end up in the penal system. The school to prison pipe line has had devastating conse quences for families and communities and as well as limited life opportunity for success. I became exposed to the concept of the achievement gap as a classroom teacher and experienced how policies, low expectati ons, curriculum, teacher quality, impacted negatively Black students. Beach County, Flor ida for many years even after the Brown v. Board of Education (1971) lawsuit has opera ted under a dual system of segregation and exclusion, hand wringing, ind ecisiveness, and ambiguity. My professional experience places me in a position to experience firsthand the perception and biases that has impeded academ ic achievement for Black students. I am curious as to how and if different perspectiv es have impacted negatively the narrowing of the achievement gap and what strategically policies can be implemented between the District and community which can help bridge th e gap. It is with this passion, that I seek to undertake this study to gain understandi ng into the leader perspectives on the achievement gap and if resilience is viable as a framework of change. Ethics All research inquires at so me point face ethical issues and dilemmas that must be
74 handled quickly so as not to challenge the in tegrity of the particip ant or the researcher. The really nature of dialogue issues can ar ise, because the researcher is digging and opening doors that are unfamiliar. The research er asks that the participant be honest and open during the course of inquiry. Creswell ( 1998) outline the ethi cal obligations of qualitative research: 1. The researcher protects the anonymity of the informants, by assigning numbers or aliase s to individuals. 2. A researcher develops case studies of individuals that represent a composite picture rather than an individual picture. 3. A researcher conveys to pa rticipants that they are participating in a study, explains the purpose of the study, and does not engage in deception about the nature of the study. 4. Determining whether the researcher should share personal experiences (p. 132). It is the researchers intenti on that no harm is visited upon the participant, this includes emotionally, financially or physically because they agreed to participant in the study. All interviewees will be asked permission to record the interviews. All participants will be explained the nature of the study and its purpo se. Kvale (1996) furthe r state the ethical principle of beneficence means that the risk of harm to a subject should be the least possible (p.116). The research ers responsibility is to we igh out the possible harm or benefit to the participant and the potential bene fit gained from the researcher and make a decision to protect the integrity of the study. Th erefore, all interviewe es will be asked if they would like to read the transcripti on prior to submission, any material deemed
75 inappropriate by the interview ee will not be included but noted in the field journal. The American Educational Research A ssociation (AERA) de veloped a section called Ethical Standards Section I, subsect ion B which provide guidelines for ethical research: 1. Educational researchers should conduct their professional lives in such a way that they do not jeopardize future research, the public standing of the field, or the disciplines research results. 2. Educational researchers must not fa bricate, falsify, or misrepresent authorship, evidence, data, findings, or conclusions. 3. Educational researchers must not kn owingly or negligently use their professional roles for fraudulent purposes. 4. Educational researchers should hone stly and fully disclose their qualifications and limitations when pr oviding professional opinions to the public, to government agencies, and ot hers who may avail themselves of the expertise possessed by members of AERA. 5. Educational researchers should attemp t to report their findings to all relevant stakeholders, and should refrain from keeping secret or selectively communicating their findings. 6. Educational researchers should report research conceptions, procedures, results, and analyses accurately a nd sufficiently in detail to allow knowledgeable, trained researchers to understand and interpret them. Pilot Study The purpose of a pilot study is useful to researchers in order help connect formal
76 work with the ideas for the dissertation. Piantanida & Garm an (1999) view is that the pilots study for the researcher help focus the study (p. 51). The pilot study help the researcher craft their writing ability and inte rviewing skills, it is the pre-test before the actual test. Similarly, Janesick (2004) state: Researchers do a pilot study or at least components of piloting techniques to shar pen their skills at interviewing and observations; from the pilot period, the researcher learns how to re-craft questions in an interview or be reminded of nuts-and bolts issues (p.119). This process gives the researcher the confidence to move forwar d and to provide the foundation of their dissertation. In spring 2008, a pilot study was undertaken to gain an understanding of how the participants perspective as a White student of segregated sch ools in Beach County, Florida during the early 70s im pacted his views on achievement and how have it affected his viewpoint and has it impacted his work with the Beach County School district. The individual was selected afte r hearing him speak at a work shop with new teachers that were hired for the new school year. During hi s training with the teachers he used words such as cultural assets, s ocial capital and soc ial responsibility. This was a different view that the new teachers were used to as well as for me. I approached him wanting to learn more about his perspec tives, especially wo rking with new primarily White females in predominately, Black schools in south Fra nklin, Florida. My participant was a White middle aged male that grew up in Franklin, Florida, during segreg ation. During his last two years in at his high school he witnesse d the transformation of the population going from 98% White to 70% with the remainder of the students being Black. The experience of that period influenced the participant thr oughout his life and late r as he went off to
77 college and pursued his career he thought about democratic justice for all. He felt that common ground had to be forged between the two races if real and meaningful change was going to happen for Black students. He desc ribed his goal as a consultant with the Beach County school district to bridge the ga p of perceptions of th e school district and Black community. This began my journey with the participant and coming away with a different perspective after doi ng the pilot study. The participan t, proved to be very open, socially responsible and genuinely wanting to help influence policy in Beach County. He talked about events that he still remembered during the integration era and how peers and teachers were distrustful, biased and ofte n hostile to Black students coming into previously all White schools. Some events he remembered were painful and even after so many years, he recalled them readily; others he recalled were joyful experiences and he appreciated the experience. Those experiences helped shape his worldview and his belief of how the achievement gap has hindered social process. The researcher used interviews and ob servations to find embedded themes and sub-terms and came away from the process with tremendous knowledge and a different perspective after going through the process with the participant. The process of interviewing, transcribing wa s intriguing and rewarding. The participants worldview was affected by segregated schools and the experi ence of re-living th at period was an eyeopener for both the interviewee and the participant. My journey from that pro cess enabled me to ponder questio ns that as an educator I needed answers for as it related to th e achievement gap between Black and White students. The history of that period is still deeply embedded for many and this dissertation will help deepen that understanding and forg e a new bridge of dialogue.
78 Protocol A from Pilot Study the InterviewMarch 2008 1. Share with me your experience growi ng up in Franklin, Florida during the era of segregation and integration. 2. What was your most memorable me mory about your education in Franklin, Florida during that period? 3. What were some of the experiences that stood out in your mind that you have reflected upon later? 4. How would you describe your experience in college and especially race relations at the University of Florida? 5. Tell me about your current job wi th Beach County school district? 6. What have you learned from working w ith new teachers in Beach County? 7. From your perspective explain why th e gap between the school district and Black communities exists? 8. How do you define the achievement gap? 9. Describe and talk about how your philosophical framework has changed as a result of your work with new teachers? 10. Do you any questions you would like to ask? The result of the pilot study proved to be helpful to the researcher because I had an opportunity to determine if th e proposed study would work. It also allowed the researcher to correct several flaws in the interview inst rument. The language had to be modified to increase the understanding of the participant. Based on the research gathered from the pilot question, I determined more research was needed to understand the achievement gap from the perspective of other key me mbers of the district and community.
79 Chapter Four This chapter contains four case studies which reflect the responses of the participants in regard to how and why the achievement gap developed and their understanding of how the distri ct is moving forward. The part icipants were chosen for this study based upon their familiarity with community challenges and their work with the school district. All participan ts have been involved in school improvement for at least five years either directly through empl oyment or indirectly through community organizations. Initially, the study was to pres ent the perspective of five participants however, one participant withdrew before the study was completed because of retirement. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain selected community leaders and educators perspectives on the achiev ement gap in Beach County, Florida. Their articulation provided the foundation for the exploratory questions, which guided this study. 1. What are the components of their pe rspectives and how they are formed? 2. What beliefs support or hinder that perspective? In addition what variables influence their perspective and vision? Exploring the data gathered during the collection process led to further questi ons which evolved naturally from the process of data gathering. In my reflective journal I jo tted down the following question: Can their perspectives help answer the question as to why an achievement gap exist in the first place? E ach case presented will address these questions. The results
80 attempt to answer these two questions through qu alitative data analysis. Data analysis is a laborious undertaking which re quires the qualitative research er to be immersed in the data; As so elegantly written by Janesick (2004) The quali tative researcher takes on the implicit task of working in a given commun ity and does not have the luxury of being distant. (p.107). Interpreta tion of the data began imme diately during the interview process. Throughout the process th e job of this researcher wa s to understand the data that was presented. Janesick (2004) st ates, Interpreting data afte r a presentation of major and minor categories of the findings is a chief re sponsibility of the re searcher. (p. 156). It is the job of the researcher to help the reader understand th e data from the study undertaken and the qualita tive researcher often use charts, graphs or tables to compare or contrast the categories. The data from this research included th e development of themes and categories to help condense the huge volume of data collect ed during the process. Huberman & Miles (2004) states, qualitative st udies-especially those done by inexperienced or lone-wolf researchers-are vulnerable when it comes to data management. (p. 429). As new themes emerged, protocols were complied, organize d, and coded. This process helped this researcher manage the data so that it wasnt overwhelming. Each participant was given a coded number, dated, along with a synopsis of the study. It was the lived experiences of the participants and their perspectives that I attempted to describe and understand. Some themes emerged relatively quickly during th e first interview process and developed continuously throughout the study. In additi on, pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of each pa rticipant for the purpose of anonymity.
81 Description of the Setting During the 90s, Floridas population ro se by 3 million only California and Texas grew by more during the de cade. Slower growth is expect ed during the first decade of the 21st century with Florida population e xpected to grow to 18,881,445 by April 1, 2010. Florida is expected to break the 20 million mark before April 1, 2015 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Floridas 65 and older population is expected to grow by 20 percent over this decade and represents 17.5 percent of Floridas total population in 2010. It is projected that by 2010, persons ages 19 and younger in Florida will represent 24.4 percent of the total state popul ation. In terms of race, Floridas population has become increasingly nonwhite over the last decades (Statehealthfact, 2009). Floridas Spanish speaking population is projecte d to represent 21.5 percent of the total population in 2010. According to the U.S. Census Re port (2000), in 2008, Floridas population consisted of the following: Whites (79.8 %), White non Spanish speakers (60.3%), Spanish speakers (21%), Blacks (15%), As ians (2.3%), Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders (0.1%), and American Indian and Alaska Natives (0.5%). Seventy-nine percent of Floridians graduated from high sc hool and 22% have a Bachelors degrees or higher. Floridas median household income average out to $47,000 and 12% Floridians live below the poverty line. Flor ida has twenty-three public st ate universities and colleges and twenty-eight public community colleges. In addition the ( St. Petersburg Times, December 22, 2009 reported that the late st rankings conducted by the respected Education Weekly ranked Florida in terms of K-12 ach ievement which measures only inschool learning climbed from 31 in 2007 to 7 in 2008 and 7 again in 2009, simply stating that Floridas K-12 achievement ranks 7th in the country, and the state ranks 10th overall.
82 Beach County Beach County, located on the western pe ninsula, is home to fewer than one million Florida residents (U.S. Census Burea u, 2000) and it is estimated that by 2014 the population will grow by an additional 12,000 new residents. Beach County is known for its service industry, political affilia tion (220,000 republicans, 233,000, democrats), financial services, tourism, re tail industries, and education. With approximately 8% of its residents ranging in age 18-24, 19% 18 a nd younger, and 20% older than 65, Beach County is relatively youthful shifting from its past image as a retirement county and half the population is women 52%. Beach County is on e of the smallest in the state: 38 miles long, and 15 miles at its broade st point, for a total of 280 s quare miles. In addition, it has 587 miles of coastline, which is idea for fishing, boating, and swimming. In 2008, Beach Countys racial and et hnic composition was: Whites (79.8%), Blacks (15.9%), Asians (2.3%), Native Indian (0.5%), Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders (0.1%). Beach County has a grow ing Spanish speaking population, with Whites making up currently the higher percentage. In Beach County (2009), 12% of its residents attended school but did not earn a diploma, 66% graduated with a diploma or (GED), 23.89% attended college but did not graduate 23% earned either an Associate or Bachelors degree and 7.93 earned higher de grees, comparable to state and national averages. Its graduation rate at 66% in 2006-2007, was below the state average and a thorn in the side for the stat e legislature, fourth among the states seven biggest districts and a full 10% below its neighbor county, Franklin. In 2008-2009, the overall rate jumped to 77% a vast improvement. However, for Black students in Beach County the current graduation rate of 64.9% is far be low the White student rate of 83.1% and
83 Spanish speaking students rate of 72.1%. In chapter 5, we will examine the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test within Beach County and assess their graduation rate and achievement gap versus White student s. Beach Countys education system is artificially divided up between North and South County with Berlin Road being the unofficial divider. South of Berlin Road is perceived as poorer, problematic, and having more minority students; North of Berlin Ro ad the opposite is the perception, affluent, fewer minority students, and more stable households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2000), in Beach County, Blacks hold the highest rate of poverty with 26.1% of the 2000 population living in poverty. The median income for a household in the County was $37,111 and the median income for a family of four was $46,925 and comparable for Blacks th e median income for a family of four was reported to be $30,405. The poverty threshol d set by the U.S. government recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society. Franklin The City Franklin is one of the cities in Beach County which was incorporated in 1892. The name came about as a result of a coin toss between two friends, using their birth places to combine into a singular name. The city is divided into sections, with two major streets dividing the quadrant into east, west, north and south. In the last 10 years there have been significant demographic changes that have redefined the housing patterns. Prior to this change Black re sidents were confined to a sm all area called south Franklin; however, areas once occupied by Black resi dents are increasingly becoming non-Black. Franklin has the largest dedicated public wate rfront park system of any city in North
84 America; its waterfront park system is se ven miles long and is used year round for all types of public events. According to the Unite d States Census Bureau (2006), Franklin has a total area of 133.1 square miles 59.6 squa re miles of it is and 73.4 square miles is water. There are approximately 240,000 reside nts, most of the population is white, 65.5%, 23.9% are Black, 5.9% Latino, and 3.0% As ian. The average median income is $41,917 with 10% of the population living be low the poverty line (Wikipedia, 2006). However, for Black residents in Franklin the median income for families is $16,000. The average unemployment rate in Franklin is 11.3% which is consistent with the state unemployment rate. However, the unemployment rate for Black residents in Franklin is 20%. The following table repres ents a visible picture: Table 4.1 Franklin Demographics Population 240.000 Median Age 41.2 % Male 47.7% % Female 52.0% % White 65.9% % Black 23.9% % Latino 5.9% % Asian 3.0% Total Households 110,795 %High School Graduate or higher 82.1% % Bachelors Degree or Higher 23.1% % Married 48.0%
85 When Florida began to develop as a t ourist attraction in the early twentieth century, Black workers were needed to build the infrastructure, railroads and work in resort communities. Jim Crow segregation was strictly enforced throughout the state with white residents living on or near the ocean and Black residents living on the other side of the tracks. In many communities, Blacks were not permitted to cross the bridges on the intercostals waterway to the luxuries beachside communities ( The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 1996). Even though segregation is not officially enforced or sanctioned, residential segreg ation is still in effect in many Florida communities. Racial violence has a long history in Florida. From 1889 to 1918, 178 Blacks were lynched in the state. One the more in famous cases in Florida were the Rosewood massacre in 1923. When a white woman claime d she had been assaulted by a Black man, a mob marched into Rosewood and literally wi ped it off the map. Eight Black residents were killed. In recent times, racial violence has been more customary in Florida than in any other state. According to The Race Reporter (1997), one of the main reasons for the serious racial climate in Florida is the low level of education prevalent in th e state. Only 56% of the adult Black populations are high school graduates and only 9.8% are college graduates. These figures are below the natio nal average. Florida is fourth in total population in the U.S. but ranks forty-seve nth in dollars per cap ita spent for higher education (Statehealthfacts, 2009). The same economic and educational conditions that exist throughout the state are mirrored in Fran klin. Black residents in Franklin have a long history of segregation in housing and education, with the Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) decision, reversing the Plessey vs. Ferguson (1896), slowly did the
86 education change. This setting is the b ackground for the study on the participants perspectives on the achievement gap. Participant Selection Five participants were initially interviewed, two females and three males, one female dropped out. The four remaining were interviewed individua lly regarding their perspectives on the achievement gap in B each County, Florida. Each participant was formally interviewed twice and informally interviewed at least once for a total of 9 interviews. Each participant was audio tape d two times totaling 9 taped and 5 non-taped interviews. Data was also collected in the fo rm of observations, nine documents, artifacts, and researcher reflective journal entries. The participants displayed enthusiasm for their jobs and active roles within the commun ity and school district. They each brought a wealth of experience and expert ise in their particular jobs. Table 4.1 details the personal characteristics of the five participants who were interviewed and a general description of their involvement with the school district. Additionally, a brief summary of the four participants in the study follows with ps eudonyms to protect their identities. The pseudonyms are based upon characters in histor y that complement either the personality or their role in the larger community. A brie f description of each character is provided prior to each case description. Table 4.2 Comparison of Personal Charac teristics among the Five Participants Using Pseudonyms to Identity them Participant Race Age Community/School Board Jonathan Gibbs Black 54 Community based William Lloyd Garrison White 54 Community based Nannie Burroughs Black 50ish School based W.E. B. Du Bois Black 54 School based Maria Montessori White 50ish School based
87 The Case of Jonathan Gibbs: The Statesman: A Dual Voice The statesman in this study is identifie d as Jonathan Gibbs who was the first Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction (W illiams, 2000) during the era of Reconstruction from 1868 1874. The pa rticipant in this study was a product of the era of segregation and later integration which bear similarities to the Reconstruction era. Reconstruction was that period immediately after the Civil War (Fitzgerald, 2007). Reconstruction according to Franklin, 1961, was to address the following issues; how the Confederate States would regain self-govern ment, be re-seated in Congress, determine the civil status of the former leaders of th e Confederacy, and the C onstitutional and legal status of former enslaved Blacks, especially their civil rights and wh ether they should be given the right to vote. Vi olent controversy er upted throughout the South over these issues and played a major role in the rise of Ku Klux Klan, which bear similarities to the era of segregation and integration duri ng the late 50s and 60 s during the latter century. During the short period of Rec onstruction from 1865-1877, educational institutions for Blacks were built throughout th e south and Black officials were appointed or voted into positions of power. Formally, Reconstruction ended in 1877, with the Compromise of 1877, which became known amo ng former enslaved Blacks as The Great Betrayal. The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten agreement between Republicans and Democrats that resolved the impasse about the resu lt of the pr esidential elections of 1876. Historians ha ve noted that the Compromise marked a turn in policy away from concern for newly freed Blacks in the South; with the election of the Republican candidate he would bring an end to Reconstruction throughout the south if he took office. Ultimately, this agreement help ed usher in the era of Jim Crow laws
88 (segregation). Jonathan Gibbs rose to positions of influence during the Reconstruction period and lived in an era of great change and racial hatred. He was the brother of prominent Arkansas Reconstruction Judge Mi fflin Wistar Gibbs, and the father of Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs, a delegate to the 1886 Florida Constitutional Convention, and a member of the Florida State Legislat ure. Gibbs High School, the first high school in St. Petersburg for Black students, is named after him. Gibbs Junior College (also in St. Petersburg) was named after him. The statesma n in this case like Jonathan Gibbs is also the first Black appointed official in Beach C ounty, he is also a product of his environment and grew up in the era of segregation and la ter integration. Conseque ntly, the participant (statesman) here will be re ferred to as Jonathan Gibbs. The Case of Jonathan Gibbs The data from each case was comprised of interviews, observations, field notes and reflective journal entries. Each part icipants perspective was informed by his relationship with the community, school base d employment or both, Table 4.3 represent the overlapping of participants, community, and education perspectives. Each case presents the participants pe rception of the achievement ga p drawing upon his own social background, experiences, and future recomm endation to improve the achievement gap between Black and white students.
89 Figure 4.1 Overlapping Perspectives The next few paragraphs describe Jonathan Gibbs and his leadership role within the community. Jonathan Gibbs is well regarded in Franklin because of his background and efforts to bridge the gap between the community and the school district. He has a friendly and authoritative demeanor: tall, neatly dre ssed, and always punctual and prepared. He is called the statesman in this study because of hi s ability to work with all stakeholders in the community to the sanguine of others who prefer to work with only likeminded people. When I met up with Mr. Gibbs to give him the synopsis of my study and the consent form I learned that he also earned his doctorate degree from the University of South Florida as well as teaching a class once a week. I wonder how he does that with his extraordinary schedule. He stat es that he gets up early and is at his office by 6:00 a.m. Garrison Community Education Education/community Montessori Burroughs Gibbs & Du Bois
90 daily and ends his day usually at 8:30 p.m. [January 2009.] Mr. Gibbs is a Black male, approximate ly, 64, weighting about 220 pounds, with a round face and bald head and about fifty-fi ve years old. He dresses casually for both interviews wearing each time a suit jacket, w ith a shirt that is opened at the neck, and slacks. The first thing you notice is that he always carries three cell phones, which are placed on the table and during the interview they constantly buzz. [Excerpt from my reflective journal, February, 2009.] For each interview he arrives at least te n minutes before his appointed time, he believes time is important and works from a regimented schedule that his secretary handles and confirms ahead of time. [Field notes and reflective jour nal excerpt, February 2009]. We met one week later at my office af ter work to accommodate my schedule. He has a firm handshake and easy smile and gave his undivided attenti on, even as his phones constantly vibrate. He was born and raised in Franklin by his grandmother, mother, father, and grandfather whom he states instilled in hi m a driving work ethic and a sense of duty towards others and especially the importance of education. He is regarded with pride by the Black co mmunity of Franklin because he was the first Black police chief who implemented polic ies that were in opposition to the status quo in regards to how Blacks should be treate d by his police officer s and those that did not adhere to those policies were promptly addressed. His policies spoke to the unequal treatment he witnessed towards the Black community and was determined to change during his watch. After re tiring from that position he was appointed another high position in Franklin that further cemen ted his status as statesman.
91 I have been working with the superint endents dating back to Scott Rose (19811991) through the current superintendent and all in the areas of addressing issues relevant to the African-American stude nt the community has a tremendous amount of distrust of the school system, because the system had failed them and now is failing their children. I believe in building bridges. Let me give you an example, its like growing up here in th e city and having to deal with an organization that I once headed, the Po lice department. You know when I became chief, when people came in and told me X, Y and Z happened, I didnt rule it out, because you know, Im saying that its possible, now lets see, lets investigate. I demanded that my officers treat pe ople with respect and dignity. This was unheard of and it caused uproar. But the community did not forget this [field notes, February 2009.] You will often find Jonathan Gibbs at community functions in both the white and Black communities. You will also find him at the local Black schools in Franklin working with the principals. He has work ed closely with th e past three school superintendents and regards them each differently. More importantly though, Mr. Gibbs strongly believes, not-withstand ing past hostilities between the Black community and the school board, a bridge of dialogue must be put in place to affect the achievement gap that exists. He discusses past relationships in re gards to segregation ve rsus integration. Past policies have impacted the Black student a nd the recent June 2009, negotiated settlement of the Bradley vs. Board of Public Instruct ion of Pinellas C ounty Florida (1970). The settlement became known as the Memoranda of Understanding. Mr. Gibbs further believes that teacher training and relationship building must be a priority of the school
92 board. These are initial themes that eventu ally are developed into the major themes identified and expanded upon in the section below. Two Major Themes Identified in the Data The leading insight garnered from the perspective of Jonathan Gibbs produced two major themes: (a) political and social re sistance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization that defined the relationship between Black and White students and (b) lack of organizational visi on and defining a strategic direction. Changes have occurred over the past forty years and most recently within the last ten years, which have led to procedural changes within Beach County School Board. These changes are discussed within the three following sub-them es: (1) integration ve rsus segregation, (2) community challenges, and (3) looking at th e developmental assets of Black students. Political and social resistance that cont ributed to the achiev ement gap within the organization. During the past forty years after inte gration of education was achieved in Franklin, different schools of thought emerge d attempting to explain why Black students werent achieving academically versus white students. Mr. Gibbs talked about two prevailing ideas that exist, whic h he strongly disputes; lack of parental involvement and the politics of poverty. Today the Beach County school system has operated under this philosophy that kids from poverty cant learn. We were ki ds in poverty and we did extremely well because the expectation was that you w ould learn and a very enriching, supportive and nourishing environment. Teachers were very important, even though we had at times outdated supplies or no supplies at all. They improvised, and more importantly, a very important aspect of the times then versus now is you hear
93 teachers and administrators today say par ents arent involved. They dont come to the school or what have you. I distinc tly remember being in elementary school, teachers would make home visits like doctors make home visits. My parents had to work, plus, my teachers lived in my comm unity and it was rare for our parents to visit the schools . Now this notion of poverty thats taught results in a selffulfilling prophecy. People who buy into that have low expectations for the kids thus they end up with low lo w outcomes. Young boys around 4th grade, or what have you have is a tendency to be very rambunctious and you find that a lot of them are being channeled into areas that arent very productive I think some of the contributors stem from th e fact that, as I said earli er, theres this expectation that poverty kids cant learn. They buy into Ruby Paynes book. Thats asinine. (Framework for Understanding Poverty, 1996). Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation. Jonathan Gibbs reflects upon the benefits of integration versus segregation and its impact on the community and students. From his perspective, he believed that in tegration was a necess ity to challenge the prevailing Jim Crow laws and that integration helped dismantle the po litics of inferiority held by the white population. However, he ponder s the question he asks of himself, what were the cost to our students and the lo ss to the Black community [field notes and reflective journal ex cerpt, October 2009]. It changed with integration with the c oncept of integration we lost a lot of supportive teachers and we got into a sy stem where it was more about the business of just going in and doing what wa s rote, in terms of trying to educate kids. We lost the community cohe siveness and the overall community
94 supervision. Because when the busing a nd so forth started for purposes of integration, you would be bused into co mmunities where basically you could be anonymous, other than the fact that you would stand out if you werent in school, but nobody really knew you. And that was c ontrary to the segregated system where if I didnt go to school everyone in the community knew, because there was that constant oversight. It also ma de it easier for the community to interface with the schools and we lost that. So losing that community connection and walking into an area where you went from high expectations to virtually no expectations, it really made a difference. Then theres still some in the AfricanAmerican community who believe integra tion is necessary in order to have quality education. Basically ignoring the f act that prior to in tegration, it appears that we fared a lot better overall. Im not suggesting that Caucasian or white teachers are not interested in African-Ame rican kids but there are a whole host of cultural differences that I think have impact ed kids in terms of their ability to be successful. Jonathan Gibbs is passionate about th e removal of barriers between the school district and the overall community. He empath etically believes that this can only be accomplished through dialogue and collaboration w ith all stakeholders. He dislikes the notion that some teachers and administrators ha ve bought into the belief that something is wrong with our kids, because that means the expectation of achieving is diminished. Lack of organizational vision and defining a strategic direction. The Beach County School Board as an organization str uggles to define its vision and strategic direction. Like most large organizations it is constantly called upon to address the issues
95 of often competing issues. According to Bolman & Deal (2003), they have identified four organizational frameworks that most organizatio ns fall within, a) the structural frame; b) the human resource frame; c) the political fr ame and; d) the symbolic frame. I propose that the Franklin School Board falls within the political framewor k: Viewed from the political frame, politics is simply the realis tic process of making decisions and allocating resources in a context of scarc ity and divergent interests (p. 181) This view puts politics at the heart of decision-maki ng and agendas to appease di verse interests. Mr. Gibbs believes that some barriers that impede the organizational vision espe cially in addressing the achievement gap, i.e. the teachers union, an d professional development for teachers. He is quick to point out that he sees some progress in th e organization and is extremely optimistic that the current superintende nt is working towards uniting all major stakeholders in a united vision. She (superintendent) understands the probl em immensely. I mean she taught for a while in her native country s he understands the differences in terms of what needs to happen. The key is going to be how do you move the bureaucracy? And a big part of that bureaucracy is the rule s, regulations, and legislations that the district is hampered by. However, I think a nother part of that is what I consider a bifurcated system. North County schools where you know work is relatively easy versus South County schools where there are some challenges (as a result of forced busing of Black students). But what we really need are teachers to be committed and I think we should be paying a differential pay for those teachers who work and make progress in challengi ng schools. Finally, the line between North County and South County, you know, ma ny may assume that because kids
96 were in the same environment that it w ould facilitate lear ning whereas we know that there is a gap and we know that so mething has to be done to eradicate the gap. But theres a small group who seems to think that if you do for one group, i.e. the African-American population that youre taking away from others which is ludicrous. I just think the politics of it dictate that we be pe rsistent and look for ways to get it done. Sub-theme two: Community challenges. After over thirty-f ive years of court ordered busing in Beach Count y, the county school board applied for and was granted Unitary Status in 2000 This simply means that the school system has eliminated and removed all the patterns of racial segregat ion; following this, Beach County implemented in 2003, its controlled choice pla n. This is an attempt to pr ovide choice while maintaining ethnic and racial integration (Alves & Willie 1990). Controlled Choice plans to do away with neighborhood attendance districts, create zones and allow families to choose within their school zone providing that admitting st udents does not upset the racial and ethnic balance at that school. In 2007, a school dist rict survey of Beach County found that the majority of all races were in favor of se nding their children to neighborhood schools, or close to home. When neighborhood schools we re implemented in 2008, it caused heated debates centered on the consequences of re segregation. Oppositionists fear that singlerace; high poverty schools will harm student achievement, in part because studies show that the quality of teachers in such schools lack experience, tur nover is greater as is a lack of academic focus. Proponents of neighbor hood schools argue that closer proximity means more parental involvement, strengthens schools and programs. What weve found is that through this soci al engineering, we put them on the bus
97 and we drove them miles and miles to school and now weve found basically in the data that the assumption was that if they were there, they would get a better education. The converse is true. So theres nothing magical about sitting in a class from an educational perspective with different ethnicities even though you know it may enrich you to know different cultures or what have you, it seems to be more detrimental for us than it was be neficial. I dont ag ree that neighborhood schools are wrong or bad. I believe it will allow for greater input. I think from a community perspective, we have to deal with the reality a nd the perception of disruption as it relates to South County schools specifically when they tend to be predominately African-American, I say that we need to send resources monetarily to where the achievement gap is going to be most pronounced, you also need to ensure that you have good teachers. Also, as a community weve got to do more as it relates to basically re-instilling some of the old values that we had with our kids in terms of you are special. You can learn. You will learn. You will be respectful and so forth because kids are kids. Sub-theme three: Looking at the devel opmental assets of Black students Jonathan Gibbs confirms that there are challenges, but in his estimation they are challenges of society, because schools mirror the issues of so ciety, such as lack of affordable housing, jobs, drugs, neighborhood rivals and social failures [field not es and reflective journal, February 2009.] Gibbs contends that schools must look at Bl ack students from a holistic point of view. His belief is that in order to harness the assets of th e Black students, there first must be recognition that there is a valid story to tell: we gotta be active in telling our kids the story ourselves and promoting those assets that we have [field notes,
98 February 2009]. Finally, he argues that the pe rception from the media and others tend to perpetuate the view that something is ba d and harmful about the community and feeds into the erroneous assumption that Black students cant or wont learn. So when I say you gotta deal with it ho listically, Im talking about sustainable communities, the way that the press and media will highlight an instance, South County versus North County, the way that you write and talk about the community and schools in a way that tends to perpetuate th ings that are not conductive to building good living sustainable communities. Holistically means addressing the whole child. If the kid has a bad draw and doesnt have what one would consider to be an ideal home situa tion, there still must be some effort to address that kid and that kids issue and not just sa ying well I cant do anything about it. Summation: Looking to the future Jonathan Gibbs has grea t hope for the future of Black students because he sees progress within the school distri ct and community. He also understands that real dialogue between both entities must focus on tearing down barriers from the past while focusing holistica lly on the child and getting quality teachers in Franklin, who are willing to make a comm itment for the long haul in order to help close the achievement gap.
99 Barriers Future Figure 4.2 Visualization of the component s of Jonathan Gibbs perspective The Case of William Lloyd Garrison: The Reformer This case describes a community member perspective who believes in change similar to William Lloyd Garrison. William Ll oyd Garrison is best known as a prominent Jonathan Gibbs Holistic view of Black students A generation of failure by the School District Developing a collaborative relationship with community Forced busing of Black students Addressing the needs of Black students The politics of poverty Teacher quality It Takes a Villa g e!
100 abolitionist and social reformer during the 18th century. He is best known as the editor of the radical abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator (Mayer, 1998). His views often put him in danger because he called for the immedi ate emancipation of enslaved Blacks. In fact, the State of Georgia offered a reward of $5,000 for his arrest, and he received numerous death threats because of his outspoken views. William Lloyd Garrison was born December 13, 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He didnt start out as an abolitionist, prior to that he was a member of the American Colonization Society, an organization that promoted the removal of free Blacks to a territory on the west coas t of Africa, as a means to re duce the number of free Blacks in the United States, and thus to help preser ve the institution of slavery. Later, Garrison changed his position and publicly apologized for his error and later wrote articles condemning his previously held view and othe rs who wanted to ma intain the institution of slavery. In 1831, Garrison founded the weekly anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator. In the first issue, Garrison wrote: I am aware that many object to the severi ty of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, a nd as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I dont wish to think, or to sp eak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a mean whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into wh ich it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in cause liked the present. I am in earnest-will not equivocate --I will not excuse-I will not retreat a single inch-AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is people is enough to make every statue leap from its
101 pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead. Over the next forty years Garrison, worked tir elessly in the abolitionist movement and later after the abolition of slavery in the United States, Garrison continued working on other reform movements. He had other cause s that needed his a ttention such, as the emerging womens suffrage movement. Hs wo rk was not done; he believed that women, like Blacks, needed to be free. The reformer in this case is referred to as William Lloyd Garrison. William Lloyd Garrison met me at the library for our initial interview. I had given him the synopsis weeks in advance, had not heard from him and was wondering if he were indeed going to participate as he had agreed [from reflective journal, February 2009.] As he approached, I noticed that he wa s casually dressed with slacks and a plain shirt; he was about 62 tall, weighing about 180 pounds, with white hair. He is about 55 years of age and wears glasses. He warmly gr eeted me and explained that he also was a student and earning his Masters degree in addition to workin g, explaining the lapse in time getting back with me. I was interested in his history. I had heard about him because of his community involvement and especially his involvement working with the various education committees in Franklin. Im a trained community organizer and my background is in Sociology, and I was trained as a community organizer back in the 90s. We moved to Franklin in 91, I had gotten very involved here in commun ity affairs and I was the lead organizer of a coalition of th irty-seven religious congregations called Congregations United for Community Action. The Congregations United for Community Action was founded in 1992, and tackled
102 issues such as economic development; drugs an d crime; race and interfaith relations and public education. Its main focus has been on education and challenging the Beach County School system to pay attention to the needs of at-risk kids, stressing li teracy, safe schools, and justice in suspension and expulsion policies related to Black students. He also served on the District Monitoring Advisory Comm ittee (DMAC) when it was implemented in Beach County. When Beach County was gran ted Unitary Status, the courts also established DMAC, a community based group to monitor and advise the district. The committees purpose is to review informati on and make recommendations to the school board concerning equity and diversity. Th is body does not have enforcement power. Two Major Themes Identified in the Data The leading insight garnered from the perspective of William Lloyd Garrison produced two major themes: (a) political and so cial resistance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization that defined the relationship between Black and White students and (b) lack of organizationa l vision and defining a strategic direction. Within the political and social resistance framework, one sub-theme emerged (1) integration versus segregation and within th e theme of lack of or ganizational vision and defining a strategic direction, two sub-them es emerged, (2) community challenges, and (3) looking at the developmenta l assets of Black students. William Lloyd Garrison has worked extens ively with Beach County School Board in the area of education. As the district m oved away from forced busing his concerns were the high suspension rate and other di scipline problems affec ting Black students he believed the district could do more to addre ss those issues to determine why the data continuously show a disproportionate number of Black students receiv ing the brunt of the
103 discipline referrals. It is within this context that we explore barriers that Garrison believes contributes to the achievement gap between Black and White students. Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation William Lloyd Garrison shared his experience and work with DMAC passionately; it is a cause that he deeply believes in and he eagerly talks about his role. He quietly reflects on his own understanding and experience as a young child going to school when he became aware of the racial inequalities regarding educating Bl ack students [field notes, March 2009.] The concept of schools within schools ju st doesnt make it, doesnt do it. You know the institutional factors that contribute d to this too, that got us to where we are have sort of been at odds with one another over the course of time. Busing which was originally you know intended, I could never understand when I was kid I remember when I was in about the 5th or 6th grade, I was riding the school bus, I was going to Catholic school at th e time. It was about the time that busing was being talked about for desegregation purposes in the 60s. I used to say to myself, I dont understand why we have to bus kids to good schools, why dont we build good schools where the kids are? For William Lloyd Garrison, in hindsight, integrati on came at a negative cost that was not foreseen during the time it was used to remedy a real problem. I got the sense from him that institutional forces were behind the scene orchestrating the resistance to change [field notes, March 2009.] I think that it (busing) was originally intended such that white kids would be bused to predominantly Black schools and Black kids would be bused to predominantly white schools but we found out over the years is because of the
104 power (collective will) of the white parent s and the will of the administrators, that the Black kids bore the brunt of travel, and so what ended up happening was that the cohesiveness at the neighborhood le vel didnt exist anymore. Well you only have to look back in history and sa y You know you often hear folks say back in the day when we had segregated schools, it was better. When you talk to people about that theyll say you know what it comes down to is that there was a sense of belonging, there was an attachment cohesiveness of the community that has been lost over time. He then connects his philosophy his worldvi ew, to the Social-democratic framework while expounding further on the effects of integration and segregation: Breaking down the walls of segregation and the institutional walls of segregation in our society in the last forty years, but its a byproduct of that. But you know the walls still exist and in a sense the achievement ga p in school reflects the achievement gap in the economy and the achievement gap in society with the same dynamic. I think its the vestiges of slavery and oppression and were not honest about it. As William Lloyd Garrison speaks he becomes mo re animated with his hand gestures and facial expressions, I am intrigued as he s poke [reflective journal, March 2009]. Garrison, states that while in college he did a lot of studying and was greatly influenced by some of his professors who were Marxists. He acknow ledges his political views are those of a social-democrat, which is a moderate vers ion of Marxist. The fundamental difference between social democrats thought and Marxism is a belief in the primacy of political action as opposed to the primacy of economic action (Berman, 2007). The Social
105 democrats aim is to reform capitalism democr atically and to create programs that work to counteract or remove social injustice. Garr ison went on to state: the greatest amount of resources should be placed where theres th e greatest amount of need. And what we do in our society, in our school system, is that we do exactly the opposite. The good schools get the reward and th e others punished. Lack of organizational vision and defining a strategic direction. As the district worked to implement change, it became apparent that it needed all the stakeholders at the table. It could not operate from the old prem ise of laying out plans that everyone readily accepted and implemented them. What was missing was the community voice. The community wanted highly qualified teachers, how was the district going to address the discipline referrals, how was the district going to address the separate schools within the schools such as the magnet programs, how woul d the District ensure that more Black students graduate with a high school diploma and how could a partnership be formed to address the achievement gap. Sub theme two: Community challenges From William Lloyd Garrisons perspective the challenge of closing the ach ievement gap must begin by looking at the whole education system first. For him it is not a simple fix. Im not you know an educational research er but I think that the system has become unwieldy and that the schools in th e past several decades have come too large and that they arent able to crea te the kind of cohesi ve learning community that it requires to have the personal at tention between student and teacher and student and administration and teacher a nd administration that it requires for quality learning. And I think that the solu tion wise, it wont be a simplistic, its
106 obviously very complicated, but the soluti on basically lies in having a will to create those smaller communities that allo w us to create a culture of learning. Another thing is that because of busing the Black community had been apart for so long and not entirely of one mind wh en it came to education, but are much closer together than in the past. So the community challenge is to have a collective will, if were goi ng to ever improve the situation, were going to have to do it together, were going to sink or swim together. Sub theme three: Looking at the developmental assets of Black students. This sub theme speaks to the need to harness those a ssets within the community to help Black students become resilient and thereby successf ul academically. Research has shown that a host of factors contributes to the resiliency of students at risk and, indeed, those same factors have been responsible historically for sustaining Blac k children/students. Some of those factors have been caring adults developing positive relationships; role models within the community; teachers; the c hurch; the extended family; community organizations and cultural assets. I was inte rested in Garrisons perspective on this and how it could impact the achievement gap. That organization is the family and th e family unit. Having the school system directly involved in the family unit, in both directions, is probably the key thing. You know we have broken down our resour ces so much in terms of how much individuals get (students), we have these huge mega schools that we build now and put resources in and then you have a lack of resources and social workers needed to work with our families. But beyond that the next thing I would look at is that there are an awful lot of orga nizations around all the communities and we
107 certainly have them in Franklin that doe s remedial work in the community with young people, with students. They are very successful and theyre in community centers and theyre in churches and I have said for a long time that we should be concentrating a lot of our e ducation dollars in that dir ection because that feels like home. Our young people need an environment, a cultural environment where theyre comfortable and open to learning, a nd it isnt antagonistic, thats huge if were willing to make that leap, to pr ovide more resources to those community based programs that do remedial teaching. Summation: Looking to the future William Lloyd Garrison sees a changing future and hope for moving forward. When I asked him if he were in charge of closing the achievement gap what would he do, his re sponse was surprisingly simple, nothing elaborate, he stated: The first thing I would do is to come up with a very simple mission statement of probably one or two or three sentence s in collaboration with everyone whos involved. And we would form that togeth er and then once we agreed upon what that mission was in terms of closing th e achievement gap, then we would all pledge ourselves to it and have commitme nt to it and we would own it. My job would be to hold myself and the others accountable to the extent that were fulfilling that mission. That mission woul d be everywhere, its important for people who are in leadership and understan ds their role, and th eir success is going to be measured against that. Its about real accountability.
108 Barriers Future Figure 4.3. Visualization of the components of William Lloyd Garrison perspective The Case of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois: The Politician W. E. B. Du BoisThe activist enjoyed a long life, living until he was almost ninetysix years of age. He was born in 1868 and was known as an American civil rights William Lloyd Garrison Forced Busing of Black students Breaking up the cohesiveness of the Black community Addressing why Black students have the most discipline referrals Artificial Barriers A united and Shared Mission to help close the gap! Placing resources where the most needs are! A Lack of Will to Change!
109 activist, a scholar, aut hor, Pan-Africanist, and editor. He was the first Black to graduate from Harvard University with a Ph.D. He wa s gifted academically and believed he could use his knowledge to empower Blacks. Toward s the end of his life he moved to Ghana, Africa and became a citizen (Lewis, 1994). He lived during a time of great upheaval for Blacks who sought to make it within the soci al and political fabric of America and couldnt because of skin color and the legacy of slavery. W. E. B. Du Bois had a long turbulent career in which he tried every possible solution to address the problem of racism. He often found himself on the outsi de with the poorer sectors of Black community because of his political views and writings. However, he found his voice among the other aspiring Blacks who believed th at they should be the ones to lead and govern by virtual of their education and stat us within the Black community. He wrote several prominent books such as The Philadelphia Negro (1899), The Souls of Black Folk (1903), John Brown (1909), Black Reconstruction (1935), and Black Folk, Then and now (1939). His philosophical duality led to one of the most heated discussions during his time, between him and Marcus Garvey, an outstanding activist and organizer of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Marc us Garvey organized millions of Blacks throughout the world calling for self-determina tion and the unificati on of Africa. Many Blacks agreed with that view, while W. E. B. Du Bois did not agree and called for the talented ten, those that possessed the intellect ual ability to govern and lead the way for Blacks by virtue of their edu cation and their proximity to power (Grant, 2008). Later, many believed that W. E. B. Du Bois collabo rated with the F.B.I. to discredit Marcus Garvey and his organization. W. E. B. Du Bois was brilliant, academically gifted, troubled by the limitations imposed because of Jim Crow laws but well regarded within
110 the African world. His legacy as a polit ician and spokesman lives on despite the controversy surrounding his lifes work. He was a dapper man, well dressed and perceived himself as a power broker among his people. The politician. This case describes a former educator and current Associate Superintendent with the Beach County School district, who re minded me of W. E. B. Du Bois in appearance when I first met him and shared other similarities they share. I call him the politician because of his ability and his own perception of himself that allows him to meet and speak with all sectors with ease and confidence. I perceive him as a politician, because of his unique position with in the Beach County School Board; he is present for all major discussions in the district, all cases dealing with equal opportunity, for all major positions openings and promotions and the person most Black employees go to for advice if they are attempting to move up in the district. He is perceived as an insider and enjoys the respect of members of the Black community. I chose him to hear his perspective on the achievement gap in Beach County especially because he works closely with the core group responsible for implementation of district wide policies. Another reason was because he was known in certain sectors of the community because he liked to keep abreast of the pulse of the different co mmunity organizations. Knowing what was being talked about and being on th e inside seem to be important to him [reflective journal, January 2009.] W. E. B. Du Bois has been in education for over twenty-seven years. According to him the re al purpose of education is to provide equal education opportunities for our students and making sure the pl aying field is even for all kids. Prior to joining the Beach County school district he worked in the private sector. W. E. B. Du Bois looks similar in body st ructure as his namesake; he is about 59,
111 weighting about 160 pounds, and about 54 years of age. He is well dressed and well spoken, always with a suit and tie and constantly in motion. He often comes across as abrupt and impatient; he alwa ys gets straight to the poi nt, and doesnt waste time on small talk. The synopsis was sent out two weeks ahead of time and I played phone tag with his secretary for a week attempting to set up our appointment. I was squeezed into an afternoon slot while he was between appoi ntments. The day of our initial appointment he arrived promptly, sat down at the circular table in my office and asked if I was ready, I had double checked my recording device tw ice and had my questions on the table anticipating that he wanted to get started as soon as possible [field notes, January 2009.] W. E. B. Du Bois speaks quickly, and emits a confidence of someone use to being in charge. His position allowed him to meet with different layers within the Beach County School system, from instructional lead ers in the classroom, to school based administrators, school board members, and th e superintendent. For a very long time he was the lone Black higher level associate wi thin the district, and many outside of the district perceived him as the power broke r, the person to go through. Adding to the situation, W. E. B. Du Bois in the past was responsible for district compliance with equal opportunity issues working clos ely with site based administ rators and district offices. This gave him access to many people and situ ations within the district and in the community at large. W. E. B. Du Bois has al so played a role as a speaker and organizer of various national organizati ons that empower Black educat ors. As a speaker nationally he has traveled throughout the country and has created networks among various individuals and organizations that speak to the needs of Black students and teachers that promote academic achievement [field notes, February 2009.] There are two major themes
112 identified in the data collection that relate to W. E. B. Du Bois and his perspective on the achievement gap. These themes revolve around the components of his beliefs and how they were formed; what beliefs s upport or hinder his perspective. The leading insight garnered from the pers pective of W. E. B. Du Bois produced two major themes: (a) political and social re sistance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization that defined the relationship between Black and White students and (b) lack of organizational visi on and defining a strategic direction. Within the political and social resistance framewor k, one sub-theme emerged (1) integration versus segregation and within the theme of lack of orga nizational vision and defining a strategic direction, tw o sub-themes emerged, (2) commun ity challenges, and (3) looking at the developmental assets of Black students. Political and social resistance that cont ributed to the achiev ement gap within the organization The district has undergone many political changes within the past ten years, one change have been the implementation of the No Child Left behind Act (2001). NCLB is a federal legislation base d on the theories of standard s-based education reform. The belief is that by setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. NCLB requi res states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain gr ades, if those states are to receive federal funding. NCLB does not require a national achie vement standard; standards are set by each individual state (Meier, et al, 2004). Additionally, the NCLB requires schools and districts to focus their attention on the academic achievement of traditionally underserved groups of students such as low-inco me, students with disabi lities and students of major racial and ethnic subgroups. Schools and di stricts are expected to make Adequate
113 Yearly Progress (AYP) within each of the sub-groups or f ace state mandated sanctions. Most high and middle schools in Franklin did not meet AYP in most of the subgroup categories for two consecutive years, requiring them to comply with additional state mandates and support. W. E. B. Du Bo is talked about the impact of NCLB on the achievement gap between Bl ack and white students. I think the intent of NCLB was noble. However, I think the implementation of NCLB should have been phased in as opposed to being dropped in, perhaps it should have come with a bit more guideline s and let the kids become prepared to do that and teachers to deal with those kinds of issues. I think there are some unrealistic standards for NCLB, given the ki ds that we are dealing with. But the good thing about the NCLB is it disaggregates the data so we get a chance to look at who is performing, whos not performing. It includes all the sub-groups that we need to look at and traditionally, those ar e the groups that have really fallen behind, they have really had the most astounding impact upon the achievement gap in having the gap so wide. Sub-theme one: Integration versus segregation W. E. B. Du Bois talked about his experience growing up during the era of se gregation and later integrated schools. Im an offspring of a military father so we had an opportunity to attend military school. Beyond that I attended early on a se gregated school, segregated set to meaning all African-American students. I didnt attend any hi gh school that was integrated until I was in the 11th grade. In the military school we was all integrated so it was a little bit appalling fo r me to move to an area where we had just one race, but I felt co mfortable there. I believe I got what is deemed a good
114 education. People were supportive and at th at time teachers tended to value the education that they were tr ying to provide for the students. People went out of the way after initially rejecting us; some actually tried to s how support that they were not prejudice or believed that we could al l co-exist in the same environment. Let me share this story because I believe it captures the essence of what integration was all about. We had books that had been used by those that were not AfricanAmerican, but we had an environmen t or a culture where education was embraced. Almost everybody that I can reca ll that went to school with me finished school. There was no drop-out ra te, there was no separation rate. We all went to the same school, we knew peopl e in the community, and they would encourage us and make sure that we were in school. Integration changed some of that. I think part of that was it broke up the community. With integration we started dividing up and then we start la beling kids as ESE and all the various labels that we put on kids, and we start sending them out of the classrooms taking tougher levels of discipline. Even tho ugh we decided to get rid of corporal punishment, we started disciplining the mi nds of our kids, we started breaking them down mentally, having them think that they could not do what other kids do and have them think that they could only compete with other kids on the football field or basketball court, but not academically. Acad emic was a Caucasian game that they played, that they would win at every time. Only a few guys, a few of our Black kids did not dr ink that kool-aid. As the interview process progressed, W. E. B. Du Bois became more open and less reserved in his answers to questions, the above response was a breakthrough from
115 interview one to interview two, I attributed his initial interview to his job with the district and secondly, to his job promotion that ha ppened between interv iew one and two and being more comfortable with the process [reflective journal notes, October 2009]. Sub theme two: Community challenges : From W. E. B. Du Bois perspective he firmly believes the community has to take re sponsibility for the lack value students place on education and help in motivating stude nts to achieve. He talks about several challenges that the community and other st akeholders should address to narrow the achievement gap, such as lack of community support, lack of parental support, high quality teachers, and distribution of those te achers in certain schools and the philosophy of the students. I believe theres a plethora of things that really im pact the performance gap. I think there is an issue of will. I think ki ds have to make a commitment that they really value education and wa nt to make sure they take advantage of the education that is provided. I think there are parental issues in terms of support for education and support for that kids learning. I think th eres an issue of readiness when kids come to school they come at a different level of readiness. Were educating different kids from the kids that we had in the past when we had other means that we could kind of motivate them. I think ki ds come to school, theyre not focused, and you got too many distractions. I think cell phones, televisi on, socially trying to fit into different groups, peer pressure Its a whole slew of things that have impacted upon kids and something the comm unity has to address. Now our kids dont even take home homewor k. The parent doesnt get involved. Finally, we are a County where socioeconomics is a factor. We are in a County where variance
116 levels of affluence exist. Some of thes e kids come together, they dont get the quality of education they star t out with, in other areas they have kids who come to the school unready, dont have the suppor t of the community, dont have the support of their family, and dont know where their family members are. Its a lot of issues here that when you look at sc hool board members who are trying to get elected and what their agendas are whether in fact theyre willing to address those things and represent the c onstituency from their areas. Everybody got to take the approach that these kids are all our kids, no matter where they live. The second interview with W. E. B. Du Bois happened during the same week he received his promotion. As I was led back to his new office, the set up of the office space of the new department reminded me of a mice maze, w ith the different twis t and turns to reach your destination, there were tiny cubicles that housed various district level employees, the office set up was confusing and kind of di sjointed. I wondered who designed the layout was the layout a reflection of confusion else where in the district [reflective journal, November 2009.] His office was clean and small with mahogany furniture, as you enter you are struck by the beautiful artwork displaye d on the walls and pictures of his family on the credenza. As I sat at the small table wa iting for W. E. B. Du Bois, employees kept knocking on the door trying to speak with hi m, rendering it impossible to continue our session, we only got to question #5, making plans to continue at a later date[field notes, October 2009.] Sub theme three: Looking at the devel opmental assets of Black students: Years of research have identified 41 developmental assets that have a proven relationship to healthy youth development (Project Corn erstone, 2004). Developmental assets are
117 building blocks, young people need to grow and become caring competent adults. Developmental assets promote thriving be haviors such as valuing education, and succeeding in schools, role models and caring adults. W. E. B. Du Bois is ambiguous about developmental assets, inst ead his view is to turn this concept to its opposite, such as working on weakness first which flies in the face of current pos itive research on the subject [reflective journal, November 2009.] We all gravitate to what our strengths are, however, it becomes problematic because if you have strengths you dont have to put as much effort and interest in terms of developing your strength as you have to do developing your weaknesses. Thats where we fall through the cracks at I think we actually have to focus on our weaknesses just as much, perhaps even more than we focus on our strengths. But you know there are some proponents that really feel that you develop your strength and at some point you build them up to a level they will be able to do something about their weakness. The dichot omy is not to do or the other; I think you have to do both. Later when reflecting on W. E. B. Du Bo is answer, I wondered if the question was unclear and questioned whether more explan ation should have been given concerning developmental assets and research on harnessi ng those assets of resiliency to overcome at-risk minefields, but was cognizant not to lead the question, but let it unfold naturally without undue influence [field notes, December 2009]. There are school district init iatives such as 5000 role models an excellent program if we could get it solidified in all of the schools. Well actually have people who come in the school and provide some assist ance to these kids and we could really
118 develop a curriculum that rea lly gets at achievement and first of all to motivate these kids to help those to reduce thei r discipline problems and get them focused. There are many programs even target females. I think the program you are doing here at Ranch High is great. Many, many of those programs need to be replicated and duplicated throughout the district. We can also and always improve upon the process and include more become a little bi t more inclusive of all kids. I think all of these kids whether they are Black, white green or whatever; they all need the same kind of thing. Summation: Looking to the Future. W. E. B. Du Bois is extremely optimistic about the future even as he criticizes th e community and Beach County School district youre going to have to ge t a system of improvement going and it cant be simply one thing, we have to declare war on this achieve ment gap. Another key component of W. E. B. Du Bois perspective is motivation a nd valuing education he believes this is a missing element in the community. He believes those two factors contribute to the gap between Black and white students. I hate to compare and contrast the time that I live in. Ju st simply think about there was some intrinsic motivation for kids w ho actually wanted to do well. They may or may not have been the first one to co me out of an education setting who were motivated to actually get an education. Th ey always wanted to be educated and the parents want the kids to do better th an they did because most of the parents who were sharecroppers or agrarian indi viduals who did not have the education. But they were highly skille d people, self-taught. They took it upon themselves to make sure that they educated they kids and I think thats really impacted the
119 value, how they valued education. W. E. B. Du Bois is optimistic about th e future and closing the achievement gap. I do think we have a shared vision in terms of the achievement gap. I think what we disagree on is the approach or how we get to closing the achievement gap. I think everybody shares the same or simila r vision regarding wh at the achievement gap is and how we meet the approach, what priorities, what co mes first, how we deploy that. We have changed from the past, there are some issues regarding whats statutory and whats state mandates and how we go at that. We have some barriers of resources and where they s hould be going. Other ba rriers I think are the lack of knowledge in terms of so me people who are actually trying to accomplish and meet the goal of reducing the achievement gap. The capacity of those individuals come into play; resour ces, financial, both human and financial resources. Other barriers are lack of co mmunity support, lack of parental support, high quality teachers, and distribution of those teachers in certain schools, and the philosophy and the students themselves. Y ou gotta take a look at them; however, the gap can be reduced.
120 Barriers Future Figure 4.4. Visualization of the components of W. E. B. Du Bois perspective W. E. B. Du Bois Lack of Parental involvement/ lack of community support Employing highly qualified teachers Integration and forced busing Closing the barrier between north and south county schools Loss of community cohesiveness Developing a shared vision A Lack of Motivation!
121 The Case of Nannie Helen BurroughsThe Visionary Nannie Burroughs was born in 1879 in Or ange, Virginia as a free woman and died in 1961. Nannie Burroughs was an e ducator, orator, relig ious leader and businesswoman. Nannie Burroughs lived during a period of profound changes for Blacks and pursued opportunities for her community and family, which were denied her parents. Her mother moved the family to Washington, D. C. after the death of her father, in hopes of educating her daughters. Burroughs was educated at the only Black school in Washington. D.C. and later received an honor ary M.A. degree from Eckstein-Norton University in Kentucky in 1907 (Rashidi & Johnson, 1998). Despite th e fact she did not have a college degree she sought a teaching position in Washington, D.C., when she was denied a position that did not deter her from pursuing other avenues. She later moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a nd became associate editor of The Christian Banner a religious newspaper. Ms. Burroughs later re turned to Washington, D.C. and passed the civil service exam with a high rating, hoping to pursue her dream of becoming an educator. Again, she was denied to teach and moved to Louisville, Kentucky and accepted a position as secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. In 1909, with the support of th e National Baptist church, she founded the National Training School for Women and Girl s in Washington. The school emphasized preparing students for employment in domestic science and secretarial skills but also in unconventional fields at the time such as ba rbering, shoe repair and oratory speaking. Burroughs adopted the motto of We specialize in the wholly impossible for the school which taught courses on the high school and junior college level. She believed that industrial and classica l education was compatible and wa s an early advocate of African-
122 American history, requiring all her students to pass that course be fore graduating. Contemporary Achiever This section focuses on the c ontemporary Nannie Burroughs, who resides in Franklin and works for the Beach County School district. I chose Nannie Burroughs to represent the participant in this study because they both share some similarities. Nannie Burroughs in this study is also known within the district and community as an educator, extremely active in her church, singer, and a businesswoman like her predecessor. Nannie Burroughs rose th rough the ranks in the school district by her hard work, attention to details, di splaying a no non-sense approach to work, accountability and advocate for students. She be came principal at one of Beach Countys fundamental schools. A fundamental school focuses on parent-teacher-student commitment to excellence, self-responsibil ity, strict discipline daily homework, dress code and required parental participation at monthly meetings and c onferences. Later, she was transferred to a traditiona l high school to help change the culture and image of that school. Later, she was promoted to a supervis or in the district office, working with principals to assist them in implementing and interpreting school board policy. She is a strong advocate for student rights and is known as a stickler for adhering to policy. When she was asked to participate in this study, she did not hesitate. She was sent the synopsis to read beforehand. Nannie Burroughs agreed to do the interviews in her office after my school day was over. Her office is located in a converted classroom portable on the property of another school in the back. The converted portab le is small and portioned off into small offices. Nannie Burroughs office is small and only big enough for a desk and small round table with a chair. It is neat and sparse ly decorated. [The location of the site is not centrally located, especi ally given the number of schools she is in charge of from
123 South and North County, reflective journa l, April 2009]. Nannie Burroughs is tall, approximately, 59, weighing about 190 pounds, and always wears dresses or two piece outfits below her knees, I have never seen he r in pants. Entering her office, she was on the telephone and indicated that she would be finished in a few minutes. Waiting, gave me the opportunity, to pull everything out of my bag so that the interview could begin promptly. I asked Nannie Burroughs if she had r ead the synopsis, she had, we were ready to begin. The leading insight garnered from the perspective of Nannie Burroughs produced two major themes: (a) political and social re sistance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organization that defined the relationship between Black and White students and (b) lack of organizational visi on and defining a strategic direction. Within the political and social resistance framew ork, one sub-theme emerged (1) community challenges, and (2) looking at the deve lopmental assets of Black students. In addition to working with her church, Nannie Burroughs sits on a number of committees in the community, which oversee and address the achievement gap in the county. She is particularly intere sted in how parents can work with the district to address issues such as discipline and academic succe ss of their student. A major concern that the community have asked the district to account for is the high suspension and discipline referrals of Black students. Black students make up only 19% of the district population but account for over 50% of th e discipline referrals.
124 Figure 4.5. Discipline Data Beach County All High Schools (2008-2009). FDOE (2008) Political and social resistance that cont ributed to the achiev ement gap within the organization. Part of Nannie Burroughs job responsi bility requires looking at student discipline data and how the di sproportionate numbers of di scipline referrals that Blacks receive versus White students directly impact the academic achievement of Black students in the district. Her insight on th e achievement gap was multi-layered, requiring participation from parents, students and comm unity. In her opinion there are no fixed or fast answers, she used her own bac kground to help shape her perspective. Let me answer by saying something about my own background. I come from a background of a mother who didnt finish high school, but yet I did. People would say that I would be a statistic, because I had no father in the home. I had no role model of anyone who had gone to college. Bu t its just that expectation, my mom know that I was going to college. But its just that expectation; my mom knew that I was going to finish school. That is what she expected. And so I think the perspective that I have is that kids can do much more sometimes than they are expected to do. Kids go to class and teach ers have preconceived notions of what they can do and sometimes their behavior ge ts in the way of what they can do. We
125 ought to not just be surprised when John Ahh! He can read! He can do this. I think expectations or lack of are barriers I believe firstly th at people look at it (achievement gap) and say that its the sc hool district burden but yet I believe that its a community burden or responsibility because children only spend one third, if that much in school. But having said th at, the responsibility of Beach County is to meet the students where they are a nd that may have to be individualized because again students come at different states of readiness. We (instructors) should be prepared to give them the th ree Rs, which are Respect, Relationship and Just Readiness or Res ponsibility versus Reading. Sub theme one: Community challenges : When Nannie Burroughs was asked to espouse upon what challenges the community must address in turning around the wide disparity between Blacks versus White student s she did not minced her opinion. [As she talked I was reminded of the readings on the fiercely prid e, Nannie Burroughs of the 1800s, who believed in creating a vision for he rself and community, and criticizing even her own community in her opinion for not taki ng charge of their students education, reflective journal, May 2009]. The parents need to start being parents. Bu t they have to have the ability to know how to parent. Part of the problem is a community problem right now thats its almost like an epidemic that we ha ve so many younger kids having young kids, having kids at such a young age. And wh en you have this situation, they dont have the emotional maturity to make t hose kinds of decisions. And then when they are 15 years old, the cycle perpetua tes. You have 15 year olds who are parents and 30 year olds who are grandm others and 45 year olds who are great
126 grandmothers. When is it going to end? I dont have an answer but those are some of the things that we have to address as a community. Not everything begins with the school but certainly it does end with in the school and its impacted by the school. Thats the perception of a community that its the schools who are failing our children. But I think people are beginni ng more and more to realize that it starts way before you get to school. Sub theme two: Looking at the developm ental assets of Black students: The framework of developmental assets is grounded in extensive research on what kids need to succeed (Search Institute, 2003). The de velopmental assets in the lives of young people are consistent with the strength-base d approach and what kids need to be successful throughout childhood and particularly in school. Linking asset building with the achievement gap for Black students has th e potential to contribute to the academic success of all students. Nannie Burroughs shar ed her perspective on this concept of boosting Black students academic achievement. We have had and we will continue to have brilliant minds that may come from the most underprivileged circumstances. And so its incumbent upon us as educators to find a hook to interest and to keep th e interest of those kids. But once we get their interest then weve got engage th eir minds. And again, the best way to do that is by using various styles of teaching a nd also to use what it is that that they bring, their multiple intelligences that they bring and to use those intelligences to incorporate it, if you will to let it overlap with whats happening in the classroom. Whatever the topic is integr ating that topic. The only teacher in the classroom is not the college graduate; the students in the classroom are teachers as well.
127 Summation: Looking to the future Nannie Burroughs shared her thoughts on how to change the future for Black students, her view includes a partnership forged in equity between the district and commun ity and stopping the blame game. I have sat through several community intere st meetings, the perception is much as it is throughout perhaps the county, is that much of the blame falls upon the shoulders of the school. If Johnny cant re ad its the schools fault. If Johnny is not passing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) because the school is not teach him or her, thats wh at I believe the perception is. But were doing our best to change that perception, looking at some true tale data. I believe the first thing the community has to understand and has to do is look at what is actually happening. I say that folk who dont walk in the halls of the schools, once they do that as the adage it takes a village, its going to take more than a village, its going to take the village and, everybody in the community, the state. Our kids are doing things that as young fold we our selves never heard of never thought of doing. Its just out of the box. Its goi ng to take a community coming together with a common purpose, not independent of ea ch other, not for glory over here in this corner or that corner; its going to take literally rolli ng up our sleeves and having some cordial conversations. Not about the community versus the school, but the community and the school coming together, recognize what the problems are. And you cant solve them all but ma ybe pull one or two and try to work on that.
128 Barriers Future Figure 4.6. Visual components of Nannie Burroughs perspective Summary A total of four participants completed the study, each involved in the education process either through employment or co mmunity activists cen tered on education Nannie Burroughs Low Expectations Not addressing the different learning styles of students Parental Responsibility Not playing the blame game forging unity Creating a Village of Villages Forging a Partnership!
129 reform. The format for each case is the same with relevant historical background on each person using pseudonyms, describing the par ticipant and their sett ing in the study and using journal entry to provide more backgr ound information. The participants were all similar in age, representing gender and et hnic differences. Before the cases were presented a descriptive study was provided on th e state of Florida, Beach County and the city of Franklin. In additi on field notes and a reflective journal was used throughout the studies to enhance the thought process of the interviewer or to provide additional descriptive information obtained through obs ervations. Case one: Jonathan Gibbs, the Statesman, represents for some within th e Black community, one of their own, who understands the simmering anger beneath the surface because of perceived historical wrongs, and a champion for bridging the gap between the school district and community. He advances the African adage of it takes a village, to bridge the achievement gap. Jonathan Gibbs is aware of the political dynami cs that exist within the school district as well as the community. He acknowledges the polit ical resistance to change and barriers that prevent the pursuit of a united vision. J onathan Gibbs encourages dialogue from all stakeholders in the community, and work w ith a diverse group of people to achieve a united vision. He is aware of the changing sc hool patterns that re sulted in neighborhood schools but is not deterred by naysayer th at neighborhood schools has reversed the progress over the past fort y years. Jonathan Gibbs st rongly believe that academic achievement can occur even if a school is ma jority Black and is w illing to entertain any discussion that say otherwise. He gladly poi nts out that his generation was a product of all Black schools and did not suffer for the wo rse. The themes in his interview reflect social and political awareness and buildi ng collaborative rela tionships among all
130 stakeholders. Case two: William Lloyd Garris on is interested in change between the powers that be meaning those in power a nd those without power Black community. His goals are to facilitate real democratic reform because for him political and social unwillingness breaks down the fabric of a true democratic society. Barriers to change is not just limited to education but also is re flected in unjust housing and jobs exclusions, which in turn reflects the achievement gap be tween Black and White students. He is very aware of the need to initiate change and to create a sense of belonging for the Black community. William Lloyd Garrison strives to cr eate collaborative relationships between the school district and the different communities, which is why he has worked with diverse community organizations especially around the issues of discipline, expulsions and academic achievement of Black students in Beach County. He believes that in order to achieve equity that resource distributi on must be based on need, as opposed to monetary rewards to those sc hools that are doing great base d on high stakes testing and punishing those schools that are struggling based on their demographics. Doing the interview process he gave an example and an alogy of a meeting that was held in the office of a previous superintendent in a ttendance were some members of the Black community wanting to talk about the perceive d lack of willingness of the superintendent to dialogue with the Black community around issues of concern. He states that upon arrival the group was ushered into the office and was immediately st ruck by the dcor. The whole room was decorated in the colors of his alma mater (Alabama University) including relics and memorabilia of his era. The group felt after seeing that, it confirmed for them the unlikelihood of any meaningf ul dialogue on change and inclusion [from reflective journal, April 2009] Garrison believed it meant the status quo would remain
131 the same. The themes in his interview refl ect political inertia and an unwillingness to change based in part on histor ical relationships, which contri butes to the achievement gap of Black students. The third case was on William Edward Du Bois, the politician, who is socially and politically aware of the achie vement gap. He acknowledges how segregation and the by-products of that system still lingers after the implementation of Brown vs. The Board of Education, however, he believe th at todays youth lack motivation than the previous generation of Blacks. William Edward Du Bois believes that his role is to empower others to do the right thing by em ploying highly qualified teachers and breaking down the perceived barriers of North vers es South County and developing a shared vision. He also believes that the community must also play a meaningful role in the education of their children and he criticizes the (B lack) community for its lack of parental involvement and for promoting a culture that doesnt value educa tion as the previous generation. He has been instrumental in prom oting and giving advi ce to Blacks in the district who want to move up, by hosting fo rums, promoting committee involvement and providing a listening ear. The theme of W illiam Edward Du Bois interview reflects a willingness to address the achievement gap as a shared problem, while acknowledging a lack of motivation and parental involvement as contributing factors. The fourth case is Nannie Burroughs, the achiever, who has a pos itive attitude and believes that the achievement gap can be closed. She is a doe r, and has no patience for slackers. Nannie Burroughs strives to promote and build rela tionships within her community and on her job. She is socially aware, maintains a prof essional presence on her job, and believes in modeling the expectation she has for others whet her as a past principal or her current role within the district office. Nannie Burroughs be lieve that her job is to promote a safe,
132 caring, respectfully, and challenging atmosphere so that students can achieve at their highest level. She strongly believes in parent al involvement and criticizes those parents that are unwilling to be involved, she also be lieves that teachers must be willing raise their expectations of Black students and promotes differential learning styles among students. Nannie Burroughs also believes th at the achievement of Black students is a shared problem and not just on the shoulders of the school district. The theme of Nannie Burroughs interview reflects he r belief of forging a part nership between the school district and school. She advocat es collaborative relationships and creating a village for everyone to participate in closing the ach ievement gap. Nannie Burroughs is firm and plays by the book; she dismisses the notion of blame and champions excellence for all. In summary, chapter four provides the r eader with a presentation of the data collected for this study. The data collection revealed two major themes and three subthemes for each participant. The data revealed some similarities between the participants and some differences. In chapter 5, I will respond to the exploratory questions which guided this study as well as present the following sections: a summary of the study, qualitative methods, analysis of the major th emes and sub-themes in each case, model of the study, and impact of the study on the researcher, conclu sion, ethic, and recommendation for further research.
133 Chapter Five Analysis, Conclusions, and Recommendations This study described and e xplained the perspectives fr om the point of view of community leaders and school board employees regarding the achievement gap between Black and White students. In this chapter, I will present a discussion of qualitative methods, responses to explorat ory questions that guided this study, the major themes and sub-themes in each case, a model of what was found in the study, the impact of the study on the researcher, the conclusions based on the findings, and ethical issues emerging from the study. This study al so incorporated the methodology of conflict theory that was introduced earlier in the study as a way of assessing resilienc y as a framework to help practioniaries and educators unders tand that both conflic t theory and resili ency are part of the same family, and a means to extend th e dialogue on the achievement gap from the perspective of the alienated Bl ack student. This approach empha sizes social interaction as a means for creating meaning for the Black students using their assets as a bridge for Black students to construct their own meaning and thus take ownership of their education. The concept of resili ency was developed to describe the relative resistance to adversity of at-risk children. Resiliency is th e process of coping with adversity, change or opportunity in a manner that re sult in the identification, for tification, and enrichment of resiliency qualities or protective factors. Critical theory holds that adversity will exist for
134 the oppressed by virtue of the economic system that maintains the status quo between the oppressed and the oppressor. Resiliency a nd conflict theory onl y acknowledges that serious problems exist, but by no means a perm anent fix for this complex issue. Finally, I will make recommendations for further research and practice. Qualitative Methods The Florida State constitution spell out th e role and responsibility of the state under article IX, section 1, read in part the education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Fl orida. It is therefore, a para mount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of a ll children residing within its borders Therefore, school districts and their boards are empowered to carry out the strategic vision of educating all students. Today local school boards are on the front lines of public education, they are responsible for providing the cornerstone for students to learn and achieve at the highest levels possible. The school boards primary ag enda along with the Superintendents is raising student achievement and involving the community in the attainment of that goal. The school board helps to formulate the following: vision, standards, assessment, accountability, alignm ent, climate and culture, collaborative relationships and looking at continuous im provement. The Beach County School District sums up their strategic direction as follows; Beach County Schools District Strategic Pl an is based on student and community requirements for Highest Student Achievem ent, Safe Schools, and Effective and Efficient Operations. These three areas are known as the Districts Strategic Directions. Our Vision unites with the co mmunity to provide a quality education enabling each student to succeed. The Mi ssion of Beach County Schools is to
135 educate students by creating systems that align all resources to assure that each student achieves at her or his highes t level (Beach County School Board, 2009). Under the goal of highest student achievem ent, Beach County breaks their goal down into two parts called Aspirational Goals, each student shall demonstr ate proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and so cial studies and meet district graduation requirements. Goal two, the district will work to close and eliminate the achievement gaps. Figure 5.1. Strategic Direction on the achievement gap As the organization in charge (school dist rict and board) with implementation of the strategic direction it is imperative for the di strict to be in alignment and focused on achieving a clear voice for all of its stakehol ders; with big organizations come complex problems all attempting to vying for priority and agendas, in response organizations will often opt to hire outside experts, such as consultants to help align the organization. According to Bolman & Deal (2003), when managers and consultants fail, government frequently jumps in with legislation, policie s, and regulations, cons tituents badger elected officials to do something about a variety of ills pg. 9. This sums up the situation with the Beach County School Board regarding the achievement gap. That something has Highest Student Achievement Each student shall demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies and meet district graduation requirements. The district will work to close and eliminate the achievement gaps.
136 resulted in an array of solutions such as coaches for schools that have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Coaches are trained experts in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. Also, the district has implemented focus lessons targeting areas of concerns across sp ecific content areas whic h all teachers in the identified content area is to teach during th e first 10 minutes of class once a week. The policies are endless and the demands to do some thing intensifies. Below is data from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Te st on the following years, 2001, 2003 and 2009. Table 5.1 FCAT Results for 2001, 2003 and 2009 READING Black and White students scoring level 3 and above. From the FLDOE report 2009. school2gradeYearrecord type description# of Students% >=3 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882001Total Students778648 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882001White580655 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882001Black129220 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102001Total Students698846 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102001White541553 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102001Black93916 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882003Total Students861254 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882003White620062 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882003Black152522 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102003Total Students731341 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102003White547248 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102003Black108213 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009Total Students781656 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009White509365 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009Black139224 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009Total Students804437 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009White533045 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009Black144012
137 Table 5.2 FCAT results for 2001, 2003 and 2009 MATH, comparing Black and White students scoring 3 and above. From the FLDOE report 2009. schoolgradeYearrecord type description# of Students% >=3 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82001Total Students779157 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82001White580765 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82001Black128825 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102001Total Students697365 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102001White540172 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102001Black93829 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82003Total Students860259 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82003White617467 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0 8 82003Black154026 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102003Total Students708766 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102003White533274 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 1 0 102003Black106031 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009Total Students778066 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009White507976 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 0882009Black137633 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009Total Students799666 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009White529976 DISTRICT TOTALS GRADE 10102009Black143333 In the past Beach County was perceived to be on the cutting edge of innovative ideas and a visionary organization that moved all stakeh olders towards shared goals and direction. This study has the potential of making a cont ribution to the achievement gap discussion by looking at the four participan ts perspectives. Each of the participants is a leader who has knowledge of the achievement gap and represents class views that drive their understanding. Qualitative research allows the research er to be immersed in the process of gathering information and observing the par ticipants, likewise for the participants, people make sense of their world as f iltered through the lens of their own lived experiences (Janesick, 2004, pg. 38). I used th e case study approach for this study and
138 originally five participants were selected as participants. They were chosen because of their direct employment with the school dist rict or because of their involvement with community committees concerned about the achievement gap between Black and White students. Each of them possessed broad e xperiences through their employment or as community leaders that understand the collabor ation between district and community is a necessity, because one cant exist without the other. For this study, the following was utili zed in the data collection process, interviews, observations, resear cher field notes, di gital photographs of the participants, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, a nd documents from Crowley vs. Pinellas County School Board. I also, reviewed the countys graduation data, suspension and referral data, and the districts web site on st rategic directions. I a ssembled a three prong notebook, which contained the participants tran scribed interviews, c onsent forms, field notes from each interview and data pertai ning to the achievement gap. Each of the transcriptions was labeled and each had page numbers to identify the interviews. Citations throughout this document reference direct quote from the data collected and filed. Appendix A provides sample field not es. Appendix B provides a sample journal entry from the researchers reflective journal. The sampling of participants for the st udy was purposeful. Three males and two females, Black and White were selected and interviewed. In order to participate in this study, the participants met the following crite ria (a) leaders within their organizations who were directly impacted by the achiev ement gap, (b) individuals who were lived through the era of change from segregation to integration, (c) who were involved in community change either through community committees or school district committees
139 addressing the achievement gap, (d) particip ants who believed in change within the school district and community. Each of the pa rticipants were interv iewed at least twice totaling 9 formal interviews, additionally, each were interviewed informally once prior to the formal interview. Each interview wa s audio taped, transcribed, and coded. Each interview lasted 45 minutes to one hour. The interview questions were semi-structured as well as opened ended. Two interview protocols were created and used as a guideline for interviewing questions; see Appendix C, for protocol A questions used for the first interview. See Appendix D, for the second se t of questions. Initi ally during the first round of interviews, each participant was gi ven a numerical number that was used to identify each one, see Appendix E. During the second round of interviews each participant was identified by an alpha number and both set of interviews were filed in folders, and coded by color in their individual fold ers along with the themes that emerged from the interview process. Each transcrip tion was transcribed verbatim and given to each participate to check for accuracy. Da ta analysis was ongoing and was based on authentic documents, observation field notes, and researcher reflective journal entries. See appendix F for the thank you letter send to participants; See Appendix G giving the participants a copy of their tr anscription. Appendix H is an excerpt from the consent form given to each participant. My peer review was done by a friend and graduate doctoral student who also served as my mentor dur ing the whole process, see Appendix I. Responses to Exploratory Questions Two exploratory questio ns guided the study. 1. What are the components of their pers pectives and how they are formed? 2. What beliefs support or hinder that perspective?
140 The responses to the exploratory questions and the key components and variables are discussed bellowed based on the data coll ection and findings. Th e responses to the questions are also displayed in Figure 5.2, Vi sual model of exploratory questions with answers from data collection findings. The four participants determined that student achievement, especially the achievement gap between Black and White st udents is a major component of the school district strategic vision and mission. However, to get there was complex, and hindered by various variables. All four of the participants agreed that the future direction that the district is heading is correct including building collaborative relationships with a broad base of community groups, organizations and pa rents. The four participants agreed that student achievement must address how to e ffectively harness the resiliency of Black students using their cultural assets to help close the achievement gap. This includes using differential learning styles, br eaking the mold of the one si ze fit all approach of teaching and retaining highly qualified teacher s in the districts most challenging schools. Jonathan Gibbs perspective is that the school district must develop a holistic view of the Black student, meaning to analyze past be lief systems and policies to address the achievement gap. William Lloyd Garrison perspective advocates placing the most resources where the most challenges exist, instead of punishing th em and by extension Black students. W.E. Du Bois perspective means developing a shared vision between the school district and the community. Nannie Burroughs perspective calls for improved parental and community involvement to help close the achievement gap.
141 Figure 5.2. Visual images of participan ts perspectives on the achievement gap The discussions from all the participants re garding their perspectiv es on the achievement gap led to the development of Theme One: Polit ical and social resistance that contributed to the achievement gap within the organi zation. All participants recounted possible barriers within the organizati on that they attributed to resistance to closing the What are the components of their perspectives and how are the y formed? What beliefs support or hinder that perspective Creating a shared vision between district and community Placing the most resources where they are needed Addressing the Black student achievement gap Lack of will by those in power Community Challenges Past historical beliefs and failures Lack of parental involvement
142 achievement gap between Black and White students. Those conversations included segregation, integration, the politics of povert y, and breaking up the cohesiveness of the community. This led to common challenge s discussed by each participant on moving forward in the future. Those discussions le d to Theme Two: What beliefs support or hinder that perspective. An analysis of the sub-themes and variables follows. The achievement gap. Each of the participants was aware of the achievement gap between n Black and White students and was ke enly aware of the implications for the school district and the community at large. E ach of the participants was also aware of how the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has impacted Black students and affected their ability to get a diploma and gr aduate from high school. High stakes testing, AYP, No Child Left Behind, the Bradley vs Pinellas County negotiated settlement (2008), and dismal graduation rate for Black students have brought the achievement gap front and center. Finally, all the participants are aware of the school district promise to address the achievement gap and make it a pr iority within the organization and felt the pressure to do something. Segregation versus integration. Three of the participants was aware of the era before integration and had strong opinions on the negative impact that segregation played politically in Florida and especially in Beach County. In hindsight three of the participants wondered if the cost of integration to the Black community was worth it. Two participants discussed how Black students in the district bore the brunt of forced busing and how it destroyed the cohesiveness of the community and further divided the community from the school district. They wonde red what was gained from this especially contrasting a sense of belonging and achieveme nt that was expected during the era of
143 segregation versus integrati on. They spoke nostalgically a nd with pride how failure was not an option and the concept of the village was evident throughout the community. They all acknowledged that community and district co llaboration is an esse ntial ingredient in order to move forward but each had individualiz ed opinions in how best to achieve that goal. Each of the participants was aware of how politics determines the organizations view and willingness to act in the best intere st of Black students. Organizational politics are determined by who has power, how it is exercised, by whom and determines the end result, school districts are not stand along orga nizations acting separa tely and apart from the community but often represen t a particular perspective. Community challenges. The communities of North and South County are different. Materially, they represent the ha ve and have nots, yet each have their own unique set of problems, yet the perception by tw o of the participants is that North County determines the political direction and po licies for the whole district. All of the participants are acutely aware of the need to work together as a whole; they recognize the need to have a shared vision and united school district in or der to address the achievement gap. This view was expressed prac tically as ensuring that resources whether materially or by teacher retention, that thos e schools with the grea test needs must be supported which in turn benefits the w hole district. South County has undergone tremendous changes in the past forty years wh ich all the participants have acknowledged overall as positive in rebuilding the infrastr ucture in South County, which had long been neglected; such as new schools, attracti ng new businesses and essential services. However, social and political realities such as lack of health care, affordable housing, high unemployment, prison growth and juvenile jailing have remained for the most part
144 unchanged, further deepening the economic cris is in the community. The economic crisis in the community is perceived as contribu ting to an understandi ng that Black students cant learn because of economical policies. One of the participants refe rs to this as th e politics of poverty, which he strongly believes hamper forward progress this belief succinctly says that Black students cant learn because of poverty. Mr. Gibbs strongly disagrees with this mindset and points to him and many others who were considered poor but succeeded. What he didnt say was that this was part of the resiliency framew ork, of caring adults, hi gh expectations, and set boundaries provided by the community and fam ilies. However, what he perceives now are, lowered expectations, less qualified teachers, watered down curricular, reinforcing the idea of the school to jail pipeline. Two of the pa rticipants strongly be lieve that lack of parental involvement is a direct correlat ion between academic achievements and Black student failure rates. Analyzing the themes and sub-themes. Research from the literature review on atrisk students and academic achievement reveal ed from the data collection that each participant views support some aspects of the resiliency framework. Political and social resistance that cont ributed to the achiev ement gap within the organization. Jonathan Gibbs perspective supports the ideas of Dewey (1960), Freire (1968) and the contemporary writings of Ko zol (2005), which primary view the purpose of education as part of the social tran sformation process of society and continuous reconstruction of a democratic society for all. Both participants believe that political and social resistance to this belief has led to failed policies by the Beach County School district and by extension a failure for all. This view is also shared by William Lloyd
145 Garrison, who believes that policies enacted ov er many years have not benefited the least served in the community but the most afflue nt, those with the po litical connection and power to maintain the status quo to the dete rment of Black student academic achievement and by extension the Black community. Jonathan Gibbs and William Lloyd Garrison perspectives reveals that th e role of schools must be aligned with other progressive individuals and organizations to help plan for a just and equitable distribution of the nations wealth for the com mon good ( Liston and Zeichner, 1997). Jonathan Gibbs data supports the belief by other researchers th at the lack of opportuni ties or perception of such, breeds social conflicts, racial hatr ed and that poverty place many Black students and the community in the bottom tier of the economic scale, leading to social upheavals and risks that compromise the academic achie vement and resiliency of Black students. Therefore, the job of schools should be to approach educating Black students from a holistic framework, not just educating the student but empowering the community as well. William Lloyd Garrison similarly reveals from his data that social inequality is the product of past history which contributes nega tively to the upward social mobility of the Black community. The common threads of their beliefs are that education should help in transforming the individual and the co mmunity, building bridges of support and empowerment of the community. The followi ng image represents their beliefs and common threads.
146 Figure 5.3. Common threads of Gibbs and Garrison beliefs Jonathan Gibbs disputes the idea that parent al involvement is the missing key to closing the achievement gap, which is echoed by many in the education arena. He believes this view is another way to blame the victim and to justify the community/parent as a problem community or as socio-pathological. He re flected on his own edu cational upbringing and those of his generation. He quickly reminded th e researcher that his teachers lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same stores and worship at the same churches but his parents were busy working to provide for the family and did not visit the schools, yet he did well. His view reflects two important factors of the resiliency framework, strong neighborhood ties, strong adult presence; role models that were indirectly and directly responsible for helping Black youth maintain high levels of academic achievement and higher levels of graduation. Jonathan Gibbs called this the village concept throughout his interview.
147 On the other hand the perspectives of W.E. Du Bois and Nannie Burroughs revealed similar views on what factors contributed to the achievement gap. Both acknowledged that past policies, and racial attitudes played a role in the current achievement gap, however both cited the central role of parental involvement and lack student motivation as additional factors. Bo th are compassionated and strong advocates and have strong beliefs about what it will ta ke to close the achievement gap. Their views are similar to James Coleman (1960) who be lieved that schooling ha d relatively little effect on the ultimate equality of students life outcomes but the involvement of parents had a greater impact on their life success. Later contempor ary writer Evans (2005) wrote similarly that the achievement gap is not a problem for schools, teachers or administration to simply solve, but are a resu lt of outside influen ces that schools have no control over. From their pers pectives the achievement gap is a shared responsibility, especially among students of poverty. Parents mu st be taught how to parent, have less television and providing for early interven tions such as pre-schooling and extended schooling. W.E. Du Bois recounts during the interview process that parents must assume more responsibility in their childs education, turn off the televisions, educate parents about teenage pregnancy, and help stud ents to value education. Nannie Burroughs believes that parents must be involved in the education of their children and place blame where it should be. She also shared that her single mother raised her to excel in school. Their views on the role of education are similar to Coleman (1960) and Evans (2005) who believed that the real role of education is to provide opportunities and not necessarily education. This simply means that the education is there but the community
148 and parent must help the ch ild take advantage of those opportunities to be academically successfully. W.E. Du Bois and Nannie Burrou ghs data collection re vealed that if the achievement gap is to be closed, than there mu st be a re-focus and new priorities set by the parents and the community. The focus must not be on blaming but building collaborative relationships between the comm unity and school distri ct. The figure below is a visual image of their perspectives relate d to political and social factors that hamper the achievement gap for Black students. Th eir perspective suppor ts the resiliency framework which states that parental and community support is identifiable protective factors that must be harnessed for eventual academic success. Figure 5.4. Common threads of Burroughs and Du Bois perspectives. Lack of Organizational Vision and De fining a Strategic Direction Over the past ten years the Beach County School district has experienced tremendous changes that challenged its past vi sion and strategic trajectory causing small cracks in its foundation. The organization ha s went from implementing forced busing over a forty year time span to neighborhood schools; mandated by th e state to implement high stakes testing in the form of Flor ida Comprehensive Assessment Testing, which shows huge gaps in reading and math betw een White and Black students; implementing
149 the NCLB act; faced two lawsu its (1) Bradley vs. Pinellas County School Board (1992), a negotiated settlement was reached in June 2008 challenging the race ratio system of forced busing, high discipline re ferral rate of Black students and inadequate facilities in the South County schools; (2) Crowley vs. Pinellas County Schools (2001) charging the district with the failure to e ducate Black students in the dist rict, targeting the achievement gap, this case have not gone to trial yet; stat e intervention at the communities once highly respected jewels, Gibbs High in St. Peters burg, Florida; coupled with a dwindling economic base of support because of the housi ng market crash, resul ting in high rates of foreclosures throughout the state impacti ng revenue for schools and students. This scenario which is not unique to Florida ha s caused debates on public education, with the public losing confidence in the school syst em to operate in the same old ways. Today there are more demands for fundamental school s, charter schools, and private schools demanding more public monies in the form of vouchers. The participants recounted their perspectives on the fu ture of the school system, all believing that it is moving in the right direction despite the numerous challenges it is faced with. Chief among their belief is that the district has placed the achievement gap as one of its main strategic dire ction and has asked for goals from schools on how to narrow the gap. Jonathan Gibbs works collaboratively w ith the city of Franklin and the school district in hammering out problems, such as teacher development, and creating partnerships with faith based organizations to help mentor Black students. William Lloyd Garrison strongly believes the district must focus its resources more on south county schools in order to narrow the achievement ga p. W.E. Du Bois works closely on internal
150 structures within the district on personnel issu es such as, hiring quality teachers, retaining and training, and ongoing professional devel opment to help ensure that Black students get highly qualified teachers and support staff members in challenging schools. Nannie Burroughs works on numerous committees both nor th and south county to ensure that procedures and processes around Black student di scipline and referral rates are aligned to the district strategic direction of narrowing the achievement gap. Organizations are filled w ith people who have their own interpretations of what is and should be happening. Each version contains a glimmer of truth, but each is a product of the prejudices and blind s pots of its maker (Bolman & D eal, pg. 17). What this simply means that in any system, one part has an imp act on the other, they are all interdependent, conflicts, and bias shape and determine strategic direction and vision of the organization. According to research on resiliency when all parts work well together, the result is high student achievement and greater satisfacti on among all stakeholders such as the community, teachers, staff and students. Sub-Theme One Integration vs. Segregation From the perspectives of Jonathan Gibbs, William Lloyd Garrison and W.E. Du Bois their data revealed the following related to segregation : (1) neighborhood cohesiveness, (2) a strong sense of self wort h and self pride, (3) strong school pride, (4) high expectations around education, (5) teache rs were considered role models and a strong community. Looking at integration the participants talked about the following: (6) the breakup of the community, (7) isolation and distance from the schools, (8) lower expectations for Black students, (9) lower t eacher quality, (10) a widening achievement gap. From the perspectives of the participants they viewed integra tion as a failed system
151 based on the following factors: higher dropout rates among Black students, higher discipline referrals, higher arrest rates fo r Black students, and a widening gap between the community and district. All of the partic ipants expressed a str ong belief shared vision between the school district and community is one of several solutions to narrow the achievement gap. The following figure repres ents the common thread among them. Figure 5.5. Building a collaborative relationship for student achievement Sub-Theme TwoCommunity Challenges Today most communities are under stress becau se of a variety of reasons; families are challenged by changing demographics and income gaps in their areas. There are fewer jobs providing sufficient income to meet the rising demands of taking care of a family. Those areas where the Black families were able to garnered support from are also challenged by economical instability, such as the extended family, community service organizations, and local church es and subsidized housing. All of the participants recognized the need for community involvement and
152 building collaborative partners hip between the district, parents and students. Jonathan Gibbs, W.E. Du Bois, Nannie Burroughs, and William Lloyd Garrison recalled their own upbringings and how the community provided a life line for thei r own achievements. Jonathan Gibbs recalled fondly if I was out in the neighborhood and did something wrong, Mrs. Such and such would spank me a nd then call my mother. W. E. Du Bois recalled that when he went off to college, his neighbors and friends while poor pitched in to provide monetary support and expressed their pride in my accomplishments, because his success was theirs as well. Today, they ag reed that some of that tradition has been lost because of political policies such neighborhood and family displacement and economical challenges. They still believe th at the priority has to be empowering the community and deal openly and honestly with the challenges of the community, such as drugs, violence, poor role models, and lack of health care and high unemployment. Their data collection revealed that they all believe in the village concept, but expanding that to include everyone from the local governmen t agencies, business partnerships to community based groups and individual. The research from the resiliency fram ework is compelling in its support of building collaborative partnerships betw een all stakeholders in narrowing the achievement gap. Resilience is fostered in the family by strong cultural belief systems that increase options for solving and overcom ing problems, thus promoting healing after a crisis or finding creative ways to resolv e problems. Schools or districts recognizing these factors can go a long ways toward s building and maximizing Black students resiliency. Building bridges of support can im pact the effort and motivation of Black students this would have a positive eff ect on academic achievement. The resiliency
153 framework recognizes that there are severa l barriers that the communities have to overcome in building partnerships; there are al so barriers that the district must break down to help in this process such as creating a welcome atmosphere in schools, enhancing and encouraging community acce ss to schools and personnel, strengthening communication between schools, families a nd communities, and enhancing the learning opportunities for families. Sub-Theme ThreeDeveloping th e Assets of Black Students According to research there are severa l factors that are critical to healthy development and academic success; 1) caring relationships, 2) high expectations, 3) opportunities for participation and 4) harn essing students unique cultural assets. The data collection from the perspectives of the participants revealed similar assumptions. Jonathan Gibbs believed that one drawback that Black students faced during busing was the loss of close and caring adults that lived and worked in their communities, he saw this as a disconnect. Black students often felt isolated from their communities because of distance, often could not participat e in school extracurricular activities. W.E. Du Bois, view was that often teachers had lo wer expectations for Black students creating a vicious cycle of behavioral problems, and ap athy, resulting in a lack of motivation. This approach became a self-fulfilling prophecy, I cant, so I wont. Nannie Burroughs, views focused on how students learn and t eachers developing differentiated learning styles to engage students. William Lloyd Garrison, views take into account the unique aspects of the community, calling for creating smaller learning centers in the community and creating the political w ill to make changes. Closing the achievement gap and helping Black students become successful is a
154 priority within the educati on system. For this to transpire schools must adopt a new vision of helping underachieving students. That new vision according to Belinda Williams (2003) is the need to move beyond rest ructuring of schools to the re-culturing of education. Re-culturing focuses on the unique cultural assets of the community such as beliefs, values, events, traditi ons and the positive habits th at characterize the students community. Developmental assets are forty identifiable factors that can help youth transition from adolescence to young adults, these factors are used to promote positive behavior and protect youth as they bounce back from advers ity. The first twenty assets called external factors focus on positive ex periences that young people receive from family, and caring adults in the community. Th ese factors stimulate and nurture positive development in youth through informal and form al structures within the community. The next twenty are called internal assets a nd are those things a community and family nurture within youth so they can contribute to their own development. External assets are identified as support, empowerment, boundaries and expectation. Some of the internal assets are identified as commitment to le arning, positive values, positive identity and social competencies. According to research th e more assets exhibite d by youth the better youth can achieve academically and mitigate adversity. The following figure represents how developmental assets can help Black students achieve academically if enough internal and external factors are present.
155 Figure 5.6. Using developmental assets to narrow the achievement gap Using the information from the data colle ction from all the participants on how developmental assets can help Black students narrow the achievement gap each identified the problem and how developmental assets can help. The following ch art represents their perspectives.
156 Table 5.3 Represents the perspectives of the partici pants and how developmental assets could be used to narrow the achievement gap. Name Achievement Gap Problem Developmental Assets Jonathan Gibbs Fueled by past history Lower expectations politics of poverty Empowerment W.E. Du Bois Lack of motivation, lack of focus Creating a shared vision with community Commitment to learning must be enhanced Nannie Burroughs Lack of parental involvement Must utilize differential learning styles Establishing boundaries and Expectations William Lloyd Garrison Past oppressive history Lack of will by those in power Using community centers to do remedial work with Black students In summary, the major findings of this study re veal that a united stra tegic direction with the community and school district is a major component of al l the participants perspectives on the achievement gap. The part icipants all have di fferent jobs yet are united in their understanding that the achievement gap represents a crisis for parents, and students but they were unsure how the distri ct strategic direction would be implemented throughout each school. Each of the participan ts believed that collaboration is a major key between parents, students and teachers, that collaboration s hould be based on best practices and understanding the diversity of the community. Th eir perspectives represent the dual role of looking towards the future as well as understanding that past policies, racial views, and distrust can impact fu ture plans and programs. Beach County School district have undergone tremendous changes and find itself on sort of a crossroads by these changes, attempting to address the NC LB mandates, struggling with schools that have failed to make AYP, intervention by the state into Beach County schools,
157 implementing the negotiated settlement of th e Bradley case, preparing for the upcoming Crowley Case; The district is struggling with a host of problems such as, teacher quality, stringent mandates from the state, less re sources from the state budget, a demoralized school staff, a distrustful community to name a few. None of the participants agreed on every point. All the participants were hopefu l that the district, parents, schools and students can move forward in a ddressing this urgent issue. Impact of the Study on the Researcher I was surprised by assumptions that I ha d concerning the participants and their worldviews and perspectives. I had assumed that two of them, William Lloyd Garrison and Jonathan Gibbs, were more conservative in their ideas and that there answers would reflect that. What was surprising was that th eir thinking was more open and liberal and it was an aha! process for me. The two pers ons that I thought woul d be more liberal thinkers, W. E. B. Du Bois and Nannie Burroughs were more conservative and guarded in their perspectives. All my assumpti ons were wrong and I learned through the qualitative process, that li nes and thoughts can be blurre d and not exactly what the researcher initially thought th e outcome would be. Another su rprise for me was that two of the participants held to the deficit model in their belie fs about the achievement gap between Black and White students. In attemp ting to explain the widespread achievement gap, many teachers, administrators and policy makers often attribute the achievement gap to the community and parents characterist ics often rooted in their cultures and communities. That is to say research grounded in this school of thought blame the victims of institutionalized oppression for their own vict imization often referring to the lack of parental involvement and other stereotypes re garding oppressed or marginalized students.
158 This perspective often overlooks the root cause of oppression by placing the cause on the families and community. Under this assumption schools are in part absolved from their responsibilities to educate all children appropriately and this charge is shifted almost entirely to Black students and their families. My own values were shaped by the era I grew up in and later by my political involvement as a student at Florida State University demanding change through the Black Student Union, which I was extremely active and later my involvement with the Uhuru Movement. I believe that education is a political weapon, serv ing the purpose of maintaining the status quo based on the economic policies of the perv ading social system. For the oppressed education is used to shap e a consciousness that is outside of the boundaries of everyday reality such as lack of health care, dying of incurable diseases earlier, subject to arrest, a nd longer incarceration. Educa tion for the oppressed to be meaningful must be maintained and struggle to overturn what Freire (1960) calls the banking concept. Education is for the purpose of depositing information, especially, the norms and values of the oppressor. As a result of this study I have grown as a researcher as well as my knowledge of resiliency and the achievement gap. I ga ined tremendous knowledge of how the participants were shaped by the events over th e last forty years regarding integration and how it impacted the community and lives of Black students. I had prior to this undertaking heard about resilienc y but the depth and research was remarkable and gave me a broader view of how it can be used to help promote and prot ect Black students as they transition from adolescence to teenagers. I discovered th at the district is huge and that politics can and do over shadow what is best for students, because infighting,
159 legislative mandates and budget cuts can creat es politics of expediency as opposed to study and implementing what is best for Black students. I also discovered that among the participants that race and class did not play an important role in their understanding of the achievement gap from their perspectives, wh ich was another assumption that I had. In fact those factors were not evident during the interview process. This led me to the discovery that each of the participants a pproached and understood the achievement gap from their own upbringings and not some thing they necessarily read in a book. As the researcher I also learned th e joy and headache of doing qualitative research, because it takes time, energy, orga nization and determination to move ahead despite the setbacks. Some of the setbacks were the taping recording giving out in the middle of an interview, text lost because of computer glitches, and time issues that threaten to overtake the researcher. It wa s a rewarding experience because it helped the researcher become organized, clearer in thought and purpose. The participants were honest and took time from their extremely busy sc hedules to share their perspectives with me which was rewarding. I found that during the data collect ion process I learned from their shared experiences, they each had exciting stories to tell and share. This study also helped me realize the urgency of addressi ng the achievement gap and providing Black students with the best curriculum and practices that are available is critical, and tying in the resiliency framework to help narrow the achievement gap. Furthermore, this study helped me unders tand the complexity of the achievement gap and how it is viewed. I learned that the complexity of the question is equally as complex as the solution. The school district has numerous programs in place such as Read 180, which is an intensive structured reading program for low and struggling
160 readers, as well as intensive math, numerous predictive testing programs to determine the probability of success to gauge outcome of su ccess for the FCAT test. However, several things came out of this study; the one si ze fit-all approach does not work. Two, schools and students are impacted by real life such as economic, social and political policies that doesnt simply stop at the school door in isolation from the community. Three, honest dialogue must happen so that real collaboration can happen between the school district and community. I remembered when Willia m Lloyd Garrison, recalled bringing Black community members into the office of a form er superintendent, he was outraged by the memorabilia displayed. Just when he thought progress and dialogue was opened up, they (community members) were reminded without words that they were still considered objects and not members of the community w ho cared about the future and of Black students. Finally, the district along with th e community must be willing to implement innovative programs that speak to the needs of a changing and dynamic community such as the Harlem Children Zone in New York or the E3 Power Program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The E3 Power Centers offer skill-building experiences for out of school and in school students that are viewed as at -risk, this program is grounded in resiliency and youth development. E3 stands for educ ation, employment and empowerment and approaches education from a holistic framework. The district must be willing to take a bold stance not simply having words on paper about the achievement gap but willing to implement those words into practice. Finally, I remember a teacher who was given the assignment to teach majority Black students in a pre-advanced placement cla ss. They were identified through their test scores but had never been challenged. They we re extremely excited to be in the class as
161 were as their parents, because, the class wa s designed to prepare and support them for one semester before going into other higher le vel content classes. However, the teacher was operating from the premise that the stude nts were poor and couldnt learn even with the evidence of their high sc ores. She often made comments that they couldnt handle the work load that they were discipline problems and before the end of the 1st six weeks she had failed the entire student body. The students were demoralized, the parents were upset and nothing was working to change the situatio n. Finally, after providi ng the teacher with training and support I realized that it was the teacher that was the problem not the students. She was immediately routed out of th at course and another teacher was asked to teach the class. The change was remarkable. He didnt change the curriculum he didnt make them believe that they were incapable, what he did was raise the bar and challenged them not to fall victim to the previous teacher low expectations. They excelled under his teaching. He built relationships with them, and believed that they could do the work. The surprise was that teachers were white, one wa s female and the other was an older white male about to retire. I thought about Jonath an Gibbs and his statement about poverty and how that can unconsciously impact how teach ers approach to teaching Black students. Thus, the findings of this study supports that a cohesive organizational vision, community partnership, a relevant curriculum and the political will to move will make a difference in narrowing the achievement gap. Conclusions Reports of the disturbing conditions of Black youth and academic achievement continue to capture the attention of local and state policymakers, resulting in uncomfortable silence or the politics of blame, with sc hool officials and community
162 leaders pointing the finger at each other, however, that doesnt solve the problem of academic achievement. Although, it is approp riate to recognize and understand the desperate social and economic conditions that affect the Black student, it is also important to look at other methods and inno vative ways to address the issue. It is important to understand how some Black youth succeed despite the overwhelming odds against them. Understanding the concept of re silience is one way teachers, administrators and policymakers can design more effective intervention models and programs to help achieve academically. There is a direct co rrelation between prot ective processes that foster resilience and risk factors that de rail Black students from realizing their full potential and becoming successful in general. The transformation of schools and communities to foster resilience is no easy task because it requires fundamental changes in be liefs, visions and behaviors of educators and community members to work in shared pa rtnerships. For the most part schools have remained largely unchanged for the last century, despite changes in society. The organizational structures of schooling are sim ilar for both majority-culture children and minority students it cant be a one size fit all approach; a resiliency framework allows for the unique assets of the Black students to be addressed. In this new vision of educating Black students to help them achieve academic success, it is important to view students experience, prior cultu ral history and knowledge as strengt hs not deficits. Believing and expecting that Black students have invaluable experiences can contri bute to the teaching and learning process. Black students must be given the oppor tunity to demonstrate their strengths and know that they are valued. Opportunities must be created for them to demonstrate what they know and can do in schools and in their communities.
163 The family and overall community play a significant role in the transmission of values, beliefs and culture to its members. Wh ile there are similarities in the expectations of different ethnic groups for their children future, it is also important to recognize the uniqueness of each. The various re searchers recognized that exte rnal factors continue to be a source of risk for Black students, that de spite those factors, they have survived and overcame tremendous odds. All the research an d literature that I ha ve read give great hope to future research and how some of those external factor s must be addressed, not in isolation from each other but as part and pa rcel of the need to navigate policies and programs designed to promote those protecti ve factors that Black families and the community possess. Finally, the old African adage that it takes a village to raise a child is true. This paper is by no m eans exhaustive of the research needed to further understand resiliency and education achievement for Blac k students; I hope to continue on this trajectory in the future. Ethical Issues Emergi ng from the Study During the study, all the participants were willing to describe and explain their experiences. I felt obligated to guarantee that their confidentially would be safeguarded throughout the process. Some hold district jobs and others held leadership jobs within the community it was my responsibility to ensure the integrity of the process and also for them to be open and comfortable. My initial contact with each of th em was to let them know that their audio-recordings would be ke pt locked and would not be shared with others. I also asked them to read their transc ript for accuracy. I coded each interview with numerical numbers and provided each participant with a pse udonym to further ensure the integrity of the participants during the interview process.
164 Additionally, as a researcher I was carefu l not to let my own views influence their answers. My own bias prior to the research was that there was no comprehensive understanding of the achievement gap and that politics and history helped dictated all decisions related to the achievement ga p. I developed my bias through my own experiences from working within the school system and working in the community. I did not mention my bias during the interviews. I wa s extremely careful to let the participants speak for themselves and not project an impr ession that their vision or perspective was negative. I wanted to unc over their truth and let that be the guide for me. Recommendations for Further Research and Practice The study data address the discussion of the importance of a cohesive united vision with the goal being to address the widening achievement gap between Black and White students. Each of the participants was able to articulate the importance from their stations the urgency of this ta sk and were able to articulate a future direction they hope would lead to intervention a nd leadership. Each knew that the achievement of Black students is crucial for the integrity of the di strict and instructional staff and by extension the state. Each participant believed that collaboration was another key in narrowing the gap. They also realized that past historical barriers of hostility, distrust and isolation would take time for the community to move beyond. It is clear from the Literature Review and from the data that the resiliency framework is another important component part, because it moves away from the old concepts of poverty, viewing the community as defective or pathological. The resiliency framework view cultural and developmental a ssets as part of the arsenal to battle dominate society views and shift towards the understanding that historical oppressed
165 people must be part of the discussion and re-c onstruct of a social just society. Below are some future recommendations that researchers may benefit from. 1. What are the views of parents regarding the achievement gap? 2. Did Black students fare better with all Black schools, why or why not? 3. How did the Brown vs. Board of E ducation decision affect academic achievement and why? 4. What innovative programs or initia tives would work to close the achievement gap? 5. What are the perspectives of educat ors and administrators regarding the achievement gap and what variables influence their perspectives? 6. Can Black students be educated under the current model of one size fit all approach, why or why not? 7. Do different perspectives and worldviews play into why an achievement gap exist, or is it impacted by politic al, social and economic relationships? In summary, the finding of this study concl ude that Beach County must evaluate how the discussion to close the achievement gap is addressed, it cant be left to individuals at the site base to implement change, but visionary leadership must come from the top, setting the tone of importance and holding those in position of authority accountable.
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179 Appendix A A211 January 10, 2009 Descriptive Notes Notes to self Selected Excerpts of Field Notes I am rushing because my meeting is at 3:00pm in Largo and I have a parent th at want to meet with me regarding her daughter re cent suspension to reduce her days. I am feeling rush ed because the parent is upset and wants to conti nue to re-visit the same concerns. I agree to redu ce her suspension to one day (student was fighting with another girl). Now the mother is attempting to negotiate no time off. I firmly but politely states NO! And apologize that I have to leave for an appointment. I promise mother that I will call her in the morning so she can pick up assignments. I dash for the door. I am sweaty and didnt get a chance to wash my face. I locate some face tissues and begin to clean off the sweat as I am driving. How long will it take me to get from south St. everything that I need? Ok, questions, audio-tape, notebook, ink pen, and extra audio-recorder (no, I forgot). I arrive with 5 minutes to spare, great. As I drive up to the parking lot, it reminds me of a deserted area. I see five or six portables and wonder which one she is located in. I immediately spot the correct one because her name is on the front with her title. In order to get into the door to the portable I have to walk up a long ramp. I am thinking how inconvenient. Once inside you feel as though you are in a box. The secretary is the first person you see and the area is extrem ely tight. I am thinking there is no privacy if she needed any. She is pleasant and states that she will inform the participant of my arriva l. I look around and wonder why they are located in boondocks and in such cramped quarters. To the right of the secretary is the office. The secretary ushers me in and reminds the I hope I have everything, because I dont want to be late. Ok, it will take about 30 minutes to get to the office from the freeway.
180 participants of her upcoming appointments; now I really feel under pressure to get this done in a reasonable amount of time. Participant a211 is of medium height, fair complexion, with medium brown hair. She has a warm handshake and immediately puts you at ease with her easy mannerism. I notice that sh e has glasses on the top of her head held up with a chain. She is slightly overweight, but would not be considered obese. She has light blue eyes behind the glasses. She is wearing a gray pants suit with a white shirt. Her shoes are black and remind me of nurses shoes for some reason. Her office is very small but neat. I did not see any family pictures. Her credenza had teacher items (I imagine from her days as an elementary teacher) such as wooden apples with saying. There were books on the book shelf and several works of childrens art in frames. In the center of the credenza was a clock, which was shaped like a school house. The phone rings and she politely ask her secretary to hold her calls. However, the secretary knocks on the door and whispers something, and the participant, agreed to take the call. I told her I would wait outside, because there was no privacy if it was something important. She waves her hand to indicate for me to stay put. It is now 3:10 and she apologizes for the interruption. I told her it gave me time to get my own things in order so it was not wasted time. She laughs. I begin by asking her why they were located so far from the main hub. She sweetly replied that the district really wanted to spread out the different offices so that they were more central and could meet the needs of the area they were responsible for. She also, states I am going to retire soon so it doesnt bother me. I wanted to ask why because that was news to me. I refrained from going into that direction, and ask if sh e was ready to start. My first question: Tell me something about your background and how did you get into education? She surprised me and asks me to turn off the audiorecording for a minute. I am puzzled and curious at the same time. I comply. She begins to talk about her upcoming retirement. I sense there is something more about this conversation than what she is Wow, the office is tiny. Why do they have them in such a small isolated area away from the main office? What was she going to tell me and why tell me? I am curious and anxious for this information to be revealed.
181 saying. I start to read be tween the lines. Clearly, there are some other issues at stake. I listen intensively to what she is saying, but it doesnt make sense until much later on (weeks later) I go back to our conversation and understood better why she ask that I dont record certain portions. I agreed not to record that portion and listened while she talked about her family and why she was leaving at such a critical time in the district.
182 Appendix B Sample Journal Jonathan Gibbs is a community leader a nd looked upon as the unofficial Mayor; people who know him respect his leadership a nd he is looked upon as a voice of reason. He understands the community and stays abreas t of concerns and attempts to mediate potential problems before they become bigger. He is viewed with pride by most of the community. His passion for education and work ing to bridge the gap between the poor sectors and other sectors is well known a nd documented. He works with all groups and individuals to the chag rin of his employers and perhaps ev en his close circle of friends. He knows the city inside out and is legendary for the hec tic and demanding schedule he keeps. He is a strong advocate of uplifting his community, especia lly the education of Black youth. W. E. B. Du Bois is known for his wide circle of friends inside and outside the district. He was known as the go to person with in the district for advice and training for up and coming teachers who wanted to move to the next level in their careers. He is aware politically, and seems to be aware of the social implications of the community. He is part of the community but yet separate from the community. He is well liked by those who know and work with him. Nannie Burroughs sub-theme reveal that she is a strong advo cate of parental involvement in the education of their child ren. She displays self-confidence and selfawareness about what she believes in. Sh e works tirelessly insi de the community on different committees on educat ion. She is a socially aware district administrator and works to improve relationships with all stakeholders. William Lloyd Garrison is a strong community activist interest ed in education reform and the equitable distri bution of wealth with in the educational organization. He is aware of past policies which he believe ha mpered progress in the past and hope that future endeavors will overcome some of thos e concerns. Fix the problem is his mantra! I am wondering how I will put this altoge ther and make sense. Wow! They each have strong views and I dont wa nt to influence them with my own biases. How will I code this information accurately so that it makes sense to me and the readers? I have a lot of work to do and a hectic schedule on top of this study? I am excited by this process, because I believe my analytical skills are good. I hope I get lots of data from each of them (suppose) I dont then what?
183 Appendix C Protocol AQuestions A Descriptive Study of the Perspective of th e Achievement Gap in a Florida, county 1. Tell me a little about your backgrou nd and your interest in Education. 2. Can you describe for me what it was lik e attending school for you either in an integrated school or desegregated school? 3. What is your understanding of the ac hievement gap and what components do you believe contribute to the achievement gap? 4. What is your perspective on how B each County schools can help narrow the achievement gap? 5. What are your own beliefs on the achievement gap between Black and White students? 6. Do you have any beliefs about how th e achievement gap can be narrowed? Please explain. 7. How do you see Beach County School dist rict dealing with the challenges of the achievement gap? How do you see yourself as influencing this challenge? 8. Do you believe that a childs, strengths, the ability to survive despite risks and adversity can be used to narro w the achievement gap, if so how? 9. Is there anything else you wish to share with me at this time?
184 Appendix D Interview Questions Protocol B A Descriptive Study of the Perspective of the Achievement Gap in Pinellas County Interview Questions 2 1. What are some factors that have caused re sistance to a shared vision regarding the achievement gap? 2. What are some of the variables that mi ght influence the lack of organizational cohesiveness in addressing the achievement gap? 3. Based on your perspective what are some factors that can cause political resistance toward implementing a holistic approach to the achievement gap? 4. How will the Memoranda of Understanding, recently negotiated in the Bradley case impact the achievement gap in Pinellas County? 5. Describe your thoughts on race and class and the achievement gap. 6. What is your perspective on the impact of integration on Black students academic performance? 7. How will neighborhood schools that are predominately Black impact the achievement gap? 8. Describe community organizations or groups that may help black students.
185 9. If you were in placed in charge of impl ementing a plan of action, what would be first thing you would do?
186 Appendix E Selected Excerpts from transcript Interview for Doctoral Dissertation on A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF PERSPECTIVES ON THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN A FLORIDA COUNTY Interviewer: Harriet Waller Subject: Participant A209 Date: February 10, 2009 File name: WS110019. and WS110020. Int: Im going to start by ques tion number one. Good afternoon. Sub: Good afternoon. Int: Tell me a little about your background and your interest in education. Sub: Okay. Im a native of St Petersburg. I went to Davis Elementary, 16th Street Junior High, St. Pete High School. From there I went to Rollins College for a bachelors degree, University of South Florida for a masters degree and Florida State for a doctorate. I have been working with superintendents dating back to Scott Rose through the current superi ntendent and all in the area of addressing issues relevant to the African-American population, specifically young African-American males along the lines of
187 achievement gap, discipline and ot her areas of incl usion such as clubs and what have you. Int: Can you describe for me what it what it was like when you went for example at that time Da vis Elementary and I think you said Hopkins or 16th Street, I should say... Sub: Yes, its Hopkins now. Int: yeah were segregated schools. What was it like? What was that experience like? Sub: It was a very rewarding e xperience, very high expectations. Unlike today where the Pinellas County School System has operated under this philosophy that that kids from poverty cant learn, we were kids in poverty and we did extremely well because the expectation was that you would learn and was a very enriching, supportive and nourishing environment. Teachers are very important, even though we had at times outdated supplies or no supplies at all. They They improvised, and more importantly, a very important aspect of the times then versus now is you hear teachers and administrators today say parents arent involved, i.e. they dont come to the school or what have you. I distinctly remember being at Davis Elementary and other schools, John Hopkins, what have you, that teach ers would make home visits like doctors made home visits. Okay? So you know there was an expectation that the parent woul d go to the teacher, the teacher
188 went to went to parents. And I can remember vividly having to I call it raking the sand, because we had to make sure that the house was clean. Anyway, but you ga ve it extra measures when you knew your your teacher was co ming. So they would also invest in us in terms of weeke nds and ensuring that we had other activities that were enriching s o, a very supportive environment. Int: What changed and why? What do you think changed? Sub: It changed with with in tegration. There was With the whole concept of integration we lo st a lot of supportive teachers and we we got into a system where it was more about the business of just going in and doi ng what was rote, in terms of trying to educate kids. We lost the a the community a cohesiveness and the the overall community supervision because when the the busing and so forth started, for purposes of integration, you would be bused in to communities where basically you could be anonymous, other than the fact that you would stand out if you werent in school, but nobody really knew you. And that was contrary to the segregated system where if I didnt go to school, everyone in the community knew that I should have been in school and there was that that constant oversight, you know. It also made it easier for the commun ity to interface with the schools and what have you and we lost that. Im not suggesting that Caucasian or white teachers are not interested in African-American
189 kids but there are a whole host of cultural differences that I think have impacted kids in terms of their ability to be successful. For example, this whole notion of poverty thats taught to kids Int: ok Sub: results in a self fulf illing prophecy. I mean people who buy into that have low expectations for the kids thus they end up with low low outcomes. Young boys around 4th grade, or what have you, have a tendency to be very rambunctious and you find that a lot of them are being channe led into areas that arent very productive. Whereas, when I was a 4th grader in the segregated system we were just as ram bunctious but we had teachers who understood that they would put us in our appropriate place with just good verbal speeches and talk ing and not necessarily channel us or suggest that we need to be on drugs and so forth. Int: good observation Sub: I mean you find today that you got too many kids on drugs, too many kids are just acting out, too many of em are in environments that are permissi ve in school such It makes no sense to me. So losing that community connection and walking into an area where you went from high expectations to virtually no expectations, it really made a difference. Just an example for it, you know when I was in school with African-American males, we were all segregated, and there were just a lot of bright people all
190 around you that looked like you. Okay? And they would tell us all the time that yall have to be better, you gotta be smarter, you gotta be prepared because you gotta compete in in the larger society and in a white world. Well, my son, who is a product of the Pinellas County School System, well, when he was in school he was in Magnet programs and accelerated programs because hes a good student. But with the the busing and the isolation, unlike me, where I was surrounded by a whole cadre of very bright people, he found himself maybe be ing only one or two or three African-American males in a room with a lot of white males, a couple of white females or what have you. So much so that when he went to Florida A&M University, which was a predominantly black HPCU, one of the first thi ngs he did was call me and said, Dad, guess what? I said What? He said, Man, there are a lot of smart black men up here. Int: Whoa. Sub: And that Thats revealing for a lot of reasons. Because being one of two or one of three or one of four or five in what he considered to be somewhat of an isolated situation Int: yeah Sub: didnt really give him the perspective that there were a lot of other people like him so he felt like he was an oddball, you know?
191 Sub: And then when he discovered that what I was saying was true, he was he was really elated. Int: Wow! Thats Thats really Thats important. Sub: Thats That is very powerful. Int: That is. Sub: Because most people dont really comprehend some of the unintended consequences Int: consequence of integration. Sub: of integration and busing. I mean it really gave him a perspective that I know I mean he looked at me and he looked at his mom, yeah, well, thats mom and dad, theyre Int: Right, thats different. Sub: Thats different, right. Int: Right. Sub: Now Im in a school situat ion with a lot of black young men but Im over here in a magnet and the majority of them are out there in traditional. Int: ____ schools. Sub: Yeah. So theyre making me feel like that you know Im different from them and so forth but Int: Because theres been a lot of of books thats been written about students that that they th at they dont want to be bright, they dont want to be in those type of schools because they
192 are and because they feel left out and isolated from their community Sub: Yeah. Right. Right. Int: You felt like you were someth ing special but he felt It was refreshing for him to find out that he wasnt an anomaly, that there are a lot of very bright African-American males. Int: Thats important. Ill have to come back to that one. Sub: Okay. Int: Thats Yeah, weve got to talk about that second one. Thats a good point. Tell me wh at is your understanding of the achievement gap and what are some of the components do you think contribute to that? Sub: Essentially, African-American kids performing at levels that are not consistent with the perfor mance of Caucasians and others in the school system. And its very v ery critical in areas such as Reading and in Math and Science and what have you. I think some of the contributors stem from the f act that, as I said earlier, theres this expectation that poverty ki ds cant learn. I mean now and the thing that that makes it very obvious in the system is when you look at where the majority of our people are versus the select ones that are pulled out and slated into magnet programs, okay?
193 Appendix F Thank You Letter to Participants January 2010 Participant Address Dear, Thank you for agreeing to being part of my dissertation study and allowing me to interview you over the past year. I am very a ppreciative of your will ingness to take time out from your busy schedule to meet with me. Your perspective on the achievement gap was invaluable for me as the researcher and for the overall study. As I mentioned to you, I am a doctoral stud ent at the University of South Florida and this study was extremely important for me and hopeful can provide some insight on the different component parts provided by your perspective as to why an achievement gap exist. Please be assured that the collection of data will be confidential and you will not be identified which is why I used pseudony ms to maintain your privacy. The purpose of the study was to get your perspe ctive and not pass judgment. Again, I want to thank you again fo r your valuable time and being open and willing to share your experiences with me. If you have any questions please dont hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at home or via e-mail. If you would like a copy of the finished product after my presentation, please let me know and I will be happy to forward you a copy. Cordially, Harriet Davis-Waller email@example.com
194 Appendix G Member Check Forms University of South Florida Educational Leadership and Policy Studies A Descriptive Study of Perspectives of th e Achievement Gap in Beach County, Florida November 21, 2008 Dear__________________________________________________________. Thank you for an enjoyable and insightful interv iew. Attached please find a draft copy of the verbatim transcripts of th e interview. Please review the transcription for accuracy of responses and reporting of information. Please feel free to contact me at 727-432-1405 or via e-mail at Davisfirstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions. Thank you again for your willingness to participat e in this study. Cordially, Harriet Davis-Waller
195 Appendix H Consent to Take Part in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want to take part in this study. If you want to take part, please sign the form, if the following statements are true. I freely give my consent to take part in this study. I understand that by signing this form I am agreeing to take part in research. I have received a copy of this form to take with me. _____________________________________________ ____________ Signature of Person Taking Part in Study Date _____________________________________________ Printed Name of Person Taking Part in Study Statement of Person Obtaining Informed Consent I have carefully explained to the person taki ng part in the study what he or she can expect. I hereby certify that when this person signs th is form, to the best of my knowledge, he or she understands: What the study is about. What procedures/interventi ons/investigational drugs or devices will be used? What the potential benefits might be. What the known risks might be. _______ Signature of Person Obtaining Informed Consent Date______________ Printed Name of Person Obtaining Informed Consent Harriet Davis-Waller Dr. Valerie J. Janesick, Dissertation Chair 1161 Williams Drive South University of South Florida
196 St. Petersburg, Florida 33705 Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Davisemail@example.com Tampa, Florida 33620 727-432-1405 813-974-1274
197 Appendix I University of South Florida Educational Leadership and Policy Studies A Descriptive Study of Perspectives of th e Achievement Gap in Beach County, Florida Peer Reviewer Form I, __________________________________, have served as a peer reviewer for A Descriptive Study of Perspectives of the Ac hievement Gap in Beach County, Florida by Harriet Davis-Waller. In this role, I have wo rked with the research er throughout the study in capacities such as reviewing transc ripts and assisting in emerging issues. Signed: _______________________________________________________ Date: _________________________________________________________
About the Author Harriet WallerDavis is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and she matriculated to Florida State University and r eceived her Bachelors of Science degree in Political Science in 1981. She started her teach ing career in Oakland, California, prior to moving to St. Petersburg, Florida where she was hired as a Social Science teacher in 1994 at Pinellas Park Middle sc hool. During that timeframe she completed her Masters degree from University of South Florida and was later appointed A ssistant Principal at the same school in 2005. In 2007 she was appoi nted Assistant Principal at Lakewood High school in St. Petersburg, Flor ida where she cu rrently works. Ms. Davis philosophy beliefs are similar to Pablo Freire that the oppressed and the oppressor nation have two different belief sy stems that require a different approach to education and how oppressed children are taught and what is taught. Ms. Davis believes that the oppressed must have total input into the educational proce ss that recognizes the importance of dismantling old moribund ideas, belie fs and values that does not recognize economic systems and social classes as majo r contributing factors that guide education practices and policies.