Term of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Robert Lake

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Julie Garlen

Committee Member 3

Derrick Tennial

Committee Member 3 Email



Why do we not ask our students what they need from us as teachers? This study is a look at my teaching through the eyes of my former students - ten black males in two urban high schools in Georgia. My research relies on critical race theory (Bell, 1992; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2006) as a lens to analyze how institutional racism creates obstacles to black male achievement. I explore how an “opportunity gap” provides the foundation for an achievement gap between blacks and whites (Tate, 2008; Ladson-Billings, 2006a) that prevents black males from achieving academic success. I use counter-storytelling (Bell, 1992; Delgado, 1989; Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) and focus group sessions to evoke true experience and voice from my students’ success stories to reveal their perceptions of what the difference was that kept them from becoming another school to prison statistic (Smith, 2009). The findings provide insight into common high school experiences and interventions that positively impacted the success of these students and how their school culture, families, teacher perceptions, and community stereotypes contributed to that impact. These students were aware of lower levels of expectations and the lack of a curriculum that empowered them with opportunities to be successful. These students only felt valued because of the positive relationships they developed with teachers creating a growth mindset that allowed them to hope for a future outside the expected stereotype of black male students. Schools are responsible for assuring teachers integrate a culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy that supports all students in understanding their role in society and empowering them with the knowledge and strategies to fight for equality and to dare to dream of success. This inquiry and the current state of affairs in this country has awakened me to the prevalence of racism and white privilege that I refused to acknowledge could still exist despite efforts to create a fair and equitable society. More now than ever we must teach the importance of respect and acceptance of all in order to fight the devastation that will occur if racism is allowed to continue to breed.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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