Equity & Access

Exploring Issues of Equity: NWP’s Project Outreach Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: A focus of the work of NWP’s Project Outreach—an initiative that supported resource development and program activities intended to enhance the capacity of local sites to understand and address issues of equity in their local programming– included identifying a variety of articles and book chapters to support teacher leaders as they explored equity issues. The texts gathered here will be useful to teachers in a variety of contexts at their local sites and in area schools including in advanced and invitational institutes, in study groups, and in school-based professional development to support inquiry into issues of access, relevance, and diversity.

Original Date of Publication: May 2008


Project Outreach 3 has collected a variety of articles and book chapters that have supported sites as they explore equity issues. These texts have been used in a variety of contexts: in summer invitational institutes, in study groups, in continuity programs, to support professional development in schools, and, specific to Project Outreach, to help sites’ leadership teams inquire into access, relevance, and diversity at their local site.

The annotations are intended to help sites choose readings for specific purposes and audiences and to match the readings with the concerns of their service area.

Multilingual and Bilingual Education

Canagarajah, A.S. 2006. “The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued.” College Composition and Communication 57 (4): 586–619.

Canagarajah assumes that multilingualism is the norm in the world, but that writing instruction has monolinguist assumptions. He proposes a pedagogy of “code-meshing” where local varieties of English and Standard Written English merge. This article challenges assumptions about “standard” and about “English.” In a workshop setting, teachers can propose strategies for teaching language that emerge from Canagarajah’s assumptions.

Coulter, C., and M.L. Smith. 2006. “English Language Learners in a Comprehensive High School.” Bilingual Research Journal 30: 309–335.

This study focuses on the research literature available in the United States on the evolution of language policy and the planning issues involved. The comprehensive high school has changed little over the past few decades, in spite of the rising numbers of immigrant children in U.S. public schools. Critics claim that high school traditions and structures consign English language learners to marginal positions and inferior academic opportunities. In an intensive analysis of 8 schools, the authors found the criticisms to hold true and came to an understating of the mechanisms by which these consequences came about. Writing project sites that work with high school English learners will find this article very helpful.

Lee, S. J., and E. Oxelson. 2006. “It’s Not My Job: K–12 Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Students’ Heritage Language Maintenance.” Bilingual Research Journal 30 (2): 453–477.

This article deals with research conducted in California schools that examined how teachers and students dealt with heritage language maintenance. It found that if teachers were not properly trained in bilingual or ESL methodologies and the awareness of these learners, then students did not do as well in the classroom. This article could assist writing project sites as they argue for the importance of their programs for English learners.

Zehr, M.A. 2007. “Cultural Studies: For Navajo Children, a Rigorous Program on Tradition to Spur Achievement.” Teacher Magazine, March 21. Available at http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2007/03/21/ew_navajo.html

A rigorous immersion program at a Navajo reservation school draws on both tradition and modern accountability tools to improve student achievement. A bilingual school can work in our educational system in spite of No Child Left Behind mandates. This article includes an assessment program that satisfies many of the NCLB requirements, showing how progressive programs can exist in the current climate.

Socioeconomic Status

Budge, K. 2006. “Rural Leaders, Rural Places: Problem, Privilege, and Possibility.” Journal of Research in Rural Education 21 (13): 1–10.

This article examines the need for critical leadership in rural communities and schools, especially for places without economic opportunities. The article constructs two approaches to “place”: “place as problem” and “place as possibility.” Writing project sites with rural services areas can use this article to expand their understanding of place.

Gorski, P. 2006. “Savage Unrealities: Classism and Racism Abound in Ruby Payne’s Framework.” Available at http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/21_02/sava212.shtml (July 19,2006).

Gorski challenges educators to push beyond a one-dimensional understanding of poverty. Rather than examining a so-called “culture of poverty”—a term used by the very popular Ruby Payne and others who write and speak about poverty at the national level—Gorski urges educators to question the culture of classist and racist assumptions that infiltrate our classrooms and schools. (Readers may also want to access Payne’s rebuttal to Gorski and Gorski’s response to Payne.) Because of Payne’s popularity, this article is a must-read for sites exploring issues of poverty.

Hillskemper, J. 2003. “How Our Assumptions Affect Our Expectations.” The Quarterly of the National Writing Project 25 (2): 12–15.

In this short article, the author reminds us to be wary of misguided assumptions about the lives and values of our students and their parents. It speaks to the dangers of misinterpreting first impressions. It resonates with issues of access by indirectly drawing our attention to what happens when we provide opportunities for true engagement with parents and when we seek new lenses through which to view engagement. It provides much-needed food for thought for leaders analyzing site participation and engagement and thinking about what this may look like for diverse pools of leaders and leadership in varying school and writing project contexts.

Tough, P. 2006. “What It Takes to Make a Student.” New York Times Magazine, November 26.

Tough’s New York Times article examines the controversies surrounding No Child Left Behind and the achievement gap. Much of the article examines the “success” of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools. According to Tough, these schools prove that education, if properly structured, can mitigate the effects of poverty. Tough does not examine a wide variety of successful programs nor does he critique the measure of “success.” The article, especially if paired with others, could support an important discussion of pedagogy, school climate, and testing.

Professional Development

Chrispeels, J., C. Andrews, and M. Gonzalez. 2007. “System Supports for Teacher Learning and School Improvement.” In International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, edited byT. Townsend, 787–806. New York: Springer.

This study describes the conditions that increased elementary teachers’ knowledge as they participated in facilitated grade-level meetings. Most significant was that when teachers’ work involved an object (students’ work, unit planning, classroom observations), knowledge was generated and teacher learning was more significant than when teachers were sharing or reflecting individually. The findings support many of the structures that writing project sites use to support teacher learning.

White-Clark, R. 2005. “Training Teachers to Succeed in a Multicultural Climate.” National Association of Elementary School Principals 84 (4): 40–44.

Teacher attitudes and lack of diversity training are major factors in the achievement gaps of minority students. The author discusses the lack of preparation for many teachers working in culturally diverse schools and suggests a model of professional development to improve their cultural awareness and help them to better tailor their instruction to minority students.

Teaching Diverse Students

Anderson, James D. 2004. Crosses to Bear and Promises to Keep: The Jubilee Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Urban Education 39 (4): 359–373.

This article examines a decade or so of writings that blame the persistence of the achievement gap on the cultural inheritance of African Americans. It is a powerful analysis of the “blaming the victim” assumptions that have permeated society in the post-Brown v. Board of Education educational era. Anderson’s article could initiate a complex discussion of race and education in leadership teams or professional development programs that address issues of race.

Bowman, J.T., J.F. Copenhaver-Johnson, and A.C. Johnson. 2007. “Santa Stories: Children’s Inquiry About Race During Picture Book Read-Alouds.” Language Arts 84 (3): 234–244.

Two classroom teachers and a university researcher examine ways that children’s picture books can be a catalyst for conversations about race in elementary classrooms. They talk about ways to allow children to generate theories, and techniques to keep discussions open rather than closing them down. They include some strategies for making space to talk about race. This is an excellent article to raise important issues in elementary professional development programs.

Bruce, H.E., and B.D. Davis. 2000. Slam: Hip-Hop Meets Poetry—A Strategy for Violence Intervention. The English Journal 89 (5): 119–127.

The authors discuss ways of opening up the English classroom to hip-hop literacies in the form of poetry slams so that teachers and students can create a language that will hold all our “diversities” and give us all spaces in which to work for peace.

Campano, G. 2005. “Malee’s Story.” In Going Public with Our Teaching: An Anthology of Practice, edited by T.Hatch et al. 237–242. New York: Teachers College Press.

This article uses the writing of a young Hmong immigrant girl from Gerald Campano’s fifth grade Stockton, California, classroom to draw the reader’s attention to the many possibilities for literacy instruction that are born out of the uses of autobiography as a means of working through trauma. He investigates how school literacy instruction can be “deeply inflected with the students’ own cultural values and put into the service of their cares and interests.” Campano’s work holds promise for informing one’s thinking about critical practices with children and adults living lives in turmoil, trauma, and transition in a variety of geographic and cultural contexts.

Campbell, K.E. 2006. “There Goes the Neighborhood: Hip Hop Creepin’ on a Come Up at the U.” College Composition and Communication 58 (3): 325–344.

Campbell examines the powerful effects of hip-hop identities in the classroom and at the university, noting that white students as well as African American students embrace hip hop. By examining a variety of modes of scholarship and forms of popular culture, Campbell shows the disruptive power of hip-hop on what is essentially a middle-class educational culture.

Christensen, L. 2000. “Sweet Learning.” P. 23–26 in Reading, Writing, and Rising Up. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Christensen describes a reading and writing activity that builds upon the Jewish tradition of “making the learning sweet.” She advocates using this activity to open the school year, providing teachers with information about the cultural backgrounds of their students. Writing project sites have used “Sweet Learning” as an opening informal writing activity in summer invitational institutes, leadership team meetings, and professional development occasions.

Ehrenworth, M. 2003. “Grammar—Comma—a New Beginning.” English Journal 92 (3): 90–96.

Mary Ehrenworth offers strategies for teaching grammar in a way that honors diverse dialects and incorporates instruction as an integral part of the composing process. She includes student examples.

Glasgow, J.N. 2001. “Teaching Social Justice Through Young Adult Literature.” The English Journal 90 (6): 54–61.

The author discusses the importance of young adult literature in helping students to imagine the lives of others and to reach beyond stereotypes in dealing with those who are different. Lists specific book titles to address specific social justice topics such as gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Godley, A. J., J. Sweetland, R.S. Wheeler, A. Minnici, and B.D. Carpenter. 2006. Preparing Teachers for Dialectally Diverse Classrooms. Educational Researcher 35 (8): 30–37.

While this article focuses on teacher preparation, it has a wealth of information for teachers creating classrooms that honor diverse dialects. It includes information about anticipating and overcoming resistance and emphasizes pedagogical applications of research on language variation.

Hale, J.E. 2001. A Model for Culturally Appropriate Pedagogy: Learning While Black: Creating Educational Excellence for African American Children. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chapter 6 offers a model of classroom instruction and culturally appropriate pedagogy for teachers of African American children. It provides an overview of the pedagogical needs for a quality education for students of color.

Jost, M., M. Jost, and E. Whitfield. 2005. “When Rules Are Fair But the Game Isn’t.” Multicultural Education 13 (1): 14.

This article discusses inequality in public education and shows how the core issues of educational inequality are related to matters of race, social justice, democratic equality, and a diverse curriculum. The authors present findings and insights from teaching a graduate level education course on diversity issues.

Maxwell-Jolly, J., P. Gándara, and L. Méndez Benavídez. 2007. Promoting Academic Literacy Among Secondary English Language Learners. Davis, CA: University of California, Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

This report synthesizes research on secondary English language learners from two conferences in California in 2005. The report makes both pedagogical and policy recommendations. These recommendations would be a good starting place for teachers’ inquiry into their practice.

Moore, Renee. 2005. “Circles of Influence: My Research Journey into Culturally Engaged Instruction.” In Going Public with Our Teaching: An Anthology of Practice, edited by T. Hatch et al., 77–90. New York: Teachers College Press.

In this article and a subsequent website co-constructed with staff members of the Carnegie Academy for the Study of Teaching and Learning, Renee Moore makes explicit the successful practices that she now describes as Culturally Engaged Instruction (CEI). She shares descriptions of her approaches to teaching grammar and writing to African American ninth grade students in a rural Mississippi Delta high school. Moore’s approaches, when shared in a professional development setting, raise important implications for teaching and learning in communities impacted by poverty and, in particular, African American communities impacted by poverty.

Noguera, P. 2003. “The Trouble with Black Boys: The Role and Influence of Environmental and Cultural Factors on the Academic Performance of African American Males.” Urban Education 38 (4): 431–459.

Noguera sets out to explain the confusion that many people have about African American boys in schools and their academic achievement. He presents insight into what and how environmental and cultural factors impact their performance in schools. Strategies and recommendations are given that may help educators, parents, and those who work in youth service organizations better support African American boys.

Petit, A. 2003. “Gender 101: Helping Students Become Aware of Stereotypes of Gender and Language.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 31 (2): 130–143.

Discusses using students’ own knowledge of gender and language to promote reflection, consciousness, and awareness of how words have an effect in the world and help shape the daily lives of people. Language is never neutral.

Reese, D. 2007. Proceed with Caution: Using Native American Folktales in the Classroom. Language Arts 84 (3): 245–56.

The author, a Pueblo, offers a framework to help teachers examine children’s picture books that portray Native Americans and decide which books to use in their classrooms to represent Native Americans and their experiences and stories. This article includes the author’s examination of two children’s books and her assessment of their authenticity and representation of Native Americans. It also cites a number of resources for those interested in additional information.

Tatum, B.D. 1992. “Talking About Race, Learning About Racism: The Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom.” Harvard Educational Review 62 (1): 1–24.

Tatum discusses how true multicultural classrooms and campuses cannot be achieved without talking about race and learning about racism. She provides the language to begin such discussions.

Valentine, G. 1999. “A Solitary Struggle.” Teaching Tolerance 16. Available at http://www.tolerance.org/.

For many activist teachers, the journey of promoting equity in education is a lonely one. A diversity consultant led a discussion among seven teacher-activists about the challenges of standing up for social justice.

White Privilege

Cullinan, C. 1999. “Vision, Privilege, and the Limits of Tolerance.” Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education. (2007, March 2).

Cullinan describes three presumptions about the dominant culture that perpetuate privilege: innocence, worthiness, and competence. In this essay, the author argues that these presumptions often go unnoticed by whites. The author provides a list of rules that can be used to combat white privilege.

“Diversity vs. White Privilege: An interview with Christine Sleeter.” 2000/2001. Rethinking Schools Online 15 (2), Winter. http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/15_02/Int152.shtml (2007, March 21).

In this condensed interview, Sleeter explains why multiculturalism is, at its core, a struggle against racism, and must go beyond an appreciation of diversity.

Trainor, J.S. 2002. “Critical Pedagogy’s ‘Other’: Constructions of Whiteness in Education for Social Change.” College Composition and Communication, 631–650.

Trainor introduces readers to the scholarship examining white privilege, generally referred to as “whiteness studies.” This article examines the ways that critical pedagogy has ignored white privilege. Using two case studies as examples, Trainor shows how examining whiteness challenges students’ assumptions about race.

Heather Bruce, director of the Montana Writing Project compiled an additional bibliography on Whiteness Studies as a resource for a Project Outreach–sponsored annual meeting workshop.


Related Resources

Original Source: National Writing Project, https://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/2590

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