Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Derrick Tennial

Abstract

This is an inquiry into my experience of working with black males in an urban public elementary school in Georgia. Theoretically drawing on critical race theory (Bell, 1992; Delgado, 1995; Dixson, & Rousseau, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 2003, 2009; LadsonBillings & Tate, 2006; Yosso, 2006), I explore institutional racism and obstacles that hinder black males’ academic achievement and push them further to the margins. I challenge deficit discourse (McWhorter, 2001; Ogbu, 1990; Payne, 2005)to illustrate how public schools and policies perpetuate the underachievement of black males by denying their access to critical literacy and equitable opportunities. Methodologically, I utilize counter-storytelling (Bell, 1990; Delgado, 1995; Rousseau, & Dixson, 2006; Solorzano & Yosso, 2009) and fiction (Avi, 2010; Doll, 2000; Ellison, 1995; He, 2003; Wright, 2009), to create five composite black male characters. I fictionalize settings, events, time, and places based on my lived experience with black males both personally and professionally to challenge majoritarian stories.

Six findings emerged from this inquiry. Public schools are racialized spaces that reproduce power structures and perpetuate inequalities that negatively affect black males’ academic achievement. Stereotypes, meritocracy, racism, white privilege, testing, tracking, deficit theories, and discipline policies contribute to the failure of black males. Historically, black males have been denied access to literacy and equitable opportunities and burdened by hardships, disadvantages, and vulnerabilities.Counter-storytelling empowers black males and other disenfranchised individuals to challenge majoritarian stories and to understand the sources of inequality, inequity, and injustice. Schools need to develop a critical pedagogy to help raise critical race consciousness within black males that empowers them to understand their locations in schools and societies and to develop strategies to fight against injustices. Educators need to develop a culturally relevant pedagogy of caring and justice and create hopes, dreams, and equal opportunities for all students to reach their highest human potential. Instead of disciplining their bodies and imprisoning their minds, educators need to create an environment where black males and many others are motivated, organized, and liberated to become active participants and positive change agents that promote equitable human conditions in an unjust world.

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