Where is the humanity in education?

Is Arizona’s Approach to Educating its ELS Superior to Other Forms of Instruction? 

By Mary Martinez-Wenzl, Karla Perez, and Patricia Gandara

Martinez-Wenzle, M., Perez, K., & Gandara, P. (2012). Is Arizona’s Approach to Educating its ELs Superior to Other Forms of Instruction? Teachers College record, 114(9), 7.


The article is of great personal interest to me as I have taught English Language Learners (ELL) for the last 17 years.  My teaching methodologies have been drastically encumbered by Arizona’s English-only and Structured English Immersion legislation.  I am required to teach ELL students in a segregated environment.  Students are with me for minimum of four hours a day for explicit instruction in reading, writing, conversation and grammar during the prescribed times. During this time, I am the only native and proficient English speaker among the group. Students remain segregated for the rest of the day as they move in groups to mainstream content area classes.  In those classes, they are often separated off to a corner of the room, or partnered with a mainstream student that speaks their native language to lend them support.  For a program that purports English language acquisition, it allows ELL students little or no exposure to authentic English interactions for with the native language speaking peers or even teachers.  Through this article’s exploration of the segregative, English-only, heritage cultural and language negating constructs of Arizona’s Structured English Language Immersion program, the domination of white culture interests in today’s educational system is confirmed.

The article gives an overview of the legislative actions that have led to the Structured English Language program for English Language learners in Arizona today.   Arizona has the nation’s most restrictive English-only law. Proposition 203, passed in 2000, mandates that all public school instruction be taught only in English.  As part of a ruling from 1992, Flores v. State of Arizona, in which a Nogales parent brought forth a class action suit for failing to provide English Language Learners (ELL) with equitable programs or to take “appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs” (Title 20 U.S.C. § 1703(f)) required under the Equal Educational Opportunity Act.  To ensure Arizona state districts were providing adequate instruction for the ELL students, the state passed HB2064.  It provided specific guidelines for the teaching of ELL students.  Part of the bill created a task force to develop a research-based program for instructing ELL students.  The task force adopted a four-hour SEI (Structure English Immersion) program developed by Kevin Clark.  Mr. Clark is a former board member on the Board of Academic Advisors for Research in English Acquisition and Development (READ) Institute, a conservative think tank for advocating the superiority of English-only programs.

Through professional development in my district, I have attended 5 sessions of day long “Grammar Camp” presented by Kevin Clark and Clark Consulting Group.  Mr. Clark is a very dynamic, charismatic, and believable speaker.  He always has a gimmick, story, or some outrageous fact to share about language acquisition.

As a member of the task force, Clark was required to present research to substantiate his SEI program.  Clark developed a 13-page document titled “Research Summary and Bibliography for Structured English Immersion Programs”. Clark (2007) noted it was not a comprehensive review of literature, but “merely a search for supporting research” (as cited by Martinez-Wenzle, Perez, & Gandara, 2012, p.6). Highly respected, published, linguists, educational researchers, and university professors, Krashen, Rolstad, and Macswan found that in review of Clark’s document, his research did not properly reference his area of inquiry nor were his findings appropriately based on the outcomes of the research (Krashen, Rolstad, & MacSwan, as cited by Martinez-Wenzle, Perez, & Gandara, 2012, p.6). With no regard to overt discrepancies, Clark’s model was adopted. His summary and bibliography became the record of recorded research for program implementation.

I cannot first handedly speak to the motivation of the task force members to approve a model with little or no valid research to confirm the program’s validity.  Common sense would lead me to assume that policy makers with such an important mission would want to conserve valuable time and resources by implementing an ELL program that had proven successful through numerous reputable research studies.  As an outsider, I would theorize that the members may have been influenced to readily approve Clark’s SEI programs because it wholly supports the English-only mandate for instruction in Arizona schools.

Another focus of this paper was to review research to determine which model of instruction was the most successful for ELL students. The first two reviews by the National Literacy Panel (NLP) and The Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE) of research used meta-analyses to combine data from 500 collective studies and use statistics to calculate the average effectiveness of each program to teach ELL students English.  The studies looked at time on task and language transfer.  The review established that literacy in a student’s heritage language facilitated academic literacy in English.  Bilingual approaches were more humane for ELL students, aiding in social development as well as supporting them academically.  Additionally, the comparative studies found evidence contrary to Arizona’s theory that 4-hour explicit instruction in English SEI would lead to faster language acquisition; “more time in English does not necessarily result in more rapid acquisition of English” (Martinez-Wenzle, Perez, & Gandara, 2012, p.10).

In conclusion, the authors of this study determined that Arizona’s approach to educating its ELs was not superior to other forms of instruction.  The authors warn that implementation of this model “carries with it additional risks of segregation, isolation, and high school dropout” (Martinez-Wenzle, Perez, & Gandara, 2012, p.25).

The idiom of this paper was appropriate for educational practitioners and administrators. The paper was developed in a traditional format with the question stated at the beginning, rationale for the study, evidence from multiple research studies, explanation of the methods and findings, and finally the results.  For academic research minded scholars, the paper offered nine pages of evidence, reviews, research studies, statistics and bar graphs.  The authors’ detailed explanations made the findings comprehensible even to me, a novice researcher.

The findings from this paper are frustrating, incomprehensible and disconcerting to me as teacher of ELL students because I am a believer in equitable practices for all students, and a participating member in a program that is detrimental to immigrant students in English language programs.  It questions my abilities as an action researcher to impact change inside of a political and educational structure whose undertakings ensure the dominance of one culture group at the expense of another.  Where is the humanity in education?



Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), 20 U.S.C. section 1703(f)(Supp.1984).

Krashen, S., Rolstad, K., & MacSwan, J. (n.d.). Review of “Research Summary and Bibliography for Structured English Immersion Programs” of the Arizona English Language Learners Task Force.

Martinez-Wenzle, M., Perez, K., & Gandara, P. (2012). Is Arizona’s Approach to Educating its ELs Superior to Other Forms of Instruction? Teachers College record, 114(9), 7.


Writing the truth – Connie Hahne

Culture & Truth     The Remaking of Social Analysis
After Objectivism Chapter 2

Renato Rosaldo

Renato Rosaldo is a wonderful writer.  Chapter two was witty, engaging and eye opening. His style of composition makes the book accessible to non-scholars. Through personal anecdotes and examples from prominent ethnographers’ writings, Rosaldo leads the reader through the downfalls of traditional modes of classical research.  The strongest points I took away from the chapter are that by not becoming involved and engaging with participants in my research, I may degrade its validity if my interpretations of actions and speech are erroneous. Additionally it would be frivolous of me to not value and exploit my subjects’ personal insights into their culture and lives.  In final compositions my word choice and level of formality influence and can manipulate the reader’s understanding of my research and the participants.

According to Rosaldo (1994), the classic period in ethnography was from about 1921-1971. This was a period when ethnographers were the judges that defined other cultures for society based on distanced and objective observations.  Observations during this time were conveyed using the present tense to make generalizations about the culture’s social life. According to Spradley (1979), Ethnography “involves the disciplined study of what the world is like to people who have learned to see, hear, speak, think, and act in ways that are different. Rather than studying people, ethnography means learning from people” (p. 3).

Rosaldo’s goal “is to speed the process of change already underway in the modes of composition for ethnography as a form of social analysis” (Rosaldo, 1994 p.54). Rosaldo (1994) argues that traditional modes of composition used by ethnographers deteriorate the validity of the researcher’s findings.  Traditional methods of ethnography fail to recognize the individualities of the culture’s members. He refers to this as the “ethnographer’s evaluated, distanced, normalizing discourse” (Rosaldo, 1994 p.51). Distanced objectified observations create erroneous and unreal generalizations of a culture’s social life.  It is assumed that each member of the culture will react and behave equally in any given circumstance.

“Human subjects have often reacted with bemused puzzlement over the ways they have been depicted in anthropologic writings” (Rosaldo, 1994 p.49). Rosaldo (1994) reflects on the validity in ethnographic discourse if it were to describe ourselves. The author’s intended message may be lost if the reader’s response is humor.  Rosaldo (1994) illustrates this through the assessments made by Americo Paredes about Chicanos’ responses to anthropological description about themselves.  The Chicanos often found the writings more “parodic” than offensive. Mistranslations, misinterpretations of humor, unfamiliarity with double meanings in Spanish, and a literal belief in unauthenticated stories and urban legends were among the noted critiques made by the Chicanos.  In order to remediate and avoid such mistakes Rosaldo suggests that ethnographers take the criticisms of their subjects with the same seriousness as those of their academic colleagues.

“The idiom of classic ethnography characteristically describes specific events as if they were programmed cultural routines and places the observer at great distance from the observed” (Rosaldo, 1994 p.55). Although use of the formal and classical idiom of composition can offer rational insights, it can also be very dehumanizing of the subjects it objectifies. Rosaldo voices a need for increased tolerance of diverse rhetorical forms.  Case histories and personal narratives need to be moved from the borders of ethnographical compositions into the body.  This would aide readers in comprehending the anthropomorphic emotions and reactions of the subjects to life situations and events.

Ultimately, Rosaldo (1994) explores the potential for critical reflection and reciprocal reflections from dialogs with the subjects in his research. In order to create a more equal ground, the studied or observed becomes the researcher.  Ethnographers learn from the subject’s perceptions and descriptions about them. To get closer to understanding a culture, the ethnographer not only observes, but engages is meaningful dialog gaining insight into the culture’s ideologies from the perspectives of its members.

            Throughout the various stages of my research, I will review the following questions to be mindful of my purpose in my work and my desired outcomes. What are the truths about a culture?  How does my positionality influence me as an ethnographer and bias my interpretations of my observations?   How do the modes of composition influence the reader’s understanding of the observed culture? Is what I am writing respectful and humanizing of others?


Rosaldo, R. (1994). After objectivism. In Culture & truth: The remaking of social analysis:                       with a new introduction (pp. 46-67). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview (p. 1). New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart                                and  Winston.





Preparing teachers for diversity

Multicultural education knowledgebase, attitudes and preparedness for diversity by Teresa Wasonga

Wasonga, T. A. (2005). Multicultural education knowledgebase, attitudes and preparedness for diversity. The International Journal of Educational Management, 19(1), 67-74. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/229173969?accountid=4485


Over the last four school years, budget crisis, school closings and boundary rezoning have greatly altered the demographics of the school where I teach English language learners.  Participation in free and reduced-fee lunch programs has more than doubled from 27.2% to 70.1%; students that speak a language other than English at home increased from 10.5% to 34%; and the number of minority students grew from 38.7 % to 68.4%.  These rapid changes have left my school challenged to meet the needs of this newly diverse population. Through my action research, I want to study, develop and implement multicultural educational practices to improve the equity of students’ access to academic and social resources at our school.  This paper investigates the effects on attitudes and feelings of preparedness of pre-service teachers after taking a class in multicultural education to prepare them to teach diverse groups of students.

In 2005, Teresa Wasonga associate professor of leadership, educational philosophy and foundations at Northern Illinois University conducted a research study to determine the impact multicultural knowledge has on attitudes of pre-service teachers.  With the passing of time, student populations across the United States have become increasingly diverse. According to the study, the pool of new teachers is increasingly white, female, and middle class. The study questions how future teachers should be best prepared to successfully impact educational achievement for diverse students.  Watonga’s definition of diverse students includes “aspects of ethnicity, language, socioeconomic class, learning styles, disabilities, sexual orientation, race, and gender.”(Wasonga, p.67).

“The question in this study was to establish a nexus among multicultural knowledge, multicultural attitudes, and feeling prepared to teach children from diverse backgrounds.”(Wasonga, p.71). The second fundamental question was how much knowledge base in multicultural education and personal interactions with diverse cultures pre-service teachers need in order to alter their attitudes and feelings of preparedness about working with diverse students.

The subjects of the research were from three classes of senior year pre-service Caucasian female teachers, average age 23, enrolled in “Multiculturalism in education” a 500 level course at a Mid-west university.  They all took pre- and post-tests. Questionnaires included Multicultural Content Test-Educational (MCCT-E) to assess their knowledge, Multicultural Questionnaire (MC) to measure attitudes about educational diversity issues nationally and internationally, and a Preparedness Survey (PS) to rate pre-service teachers’ feeling of preparedness to work with diverse students. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis. Researchers were looking for growth during one semester.

Findings from the post-tests showed that the one semester course in Multiculturalism in education increased the pre-service teachers’ knowledge about multiculturalism.  Also, pre-service teachers reported feeling more confident about working with diverse learners, except for children from same gender parents.  There was low to no correlation between multicultural knowledge and attitudes.  There were also no correlations between attitudes and preparedness to teach children from diverse backgrounds. The growth in knowledgebase did not have a direct effect on the pre-service teachers’ attitudes or beliefs about multiculturalism.

The author concluded from the research that a knowledgebase in multiculturalism is not enough to strongly influence teachers’ attitudes or change their practices. Wasonga refers to other studies that encourage strategies like personal experiences, sustained interaction with diverse students and extensive study of issues about diversity as means of impacting pre-service teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. (Gay,2002;King,1991;Schoorman,2002;Watts,1984.)

The article ends with suggestions for future teacher education programs. More integrated methods of teaching multiculturalism  should be included for pre-service teachers.  Wasonga also suggests authentic, direct, and significant interactions with diverse students.

I chose this article because I was curious about how effective learning about multicultural education would be in changing teacher’s attitudes about diverse students.  Based on the results of the study knowledge is not everything.  If I conducted a similar study among teachers at my school, I am curious about how daily interaction with diverse students, while learning about multiculturalism would shape their attitudes and practices.

The research methods were straight forward, clear, and detailed enough to duplicate.  I question the use of such a segregated population of all white young female students.  The group was so homogenous, that I also question if the research results could be applied to all pre-service teachers.  The population of my school is mostly white females with about ten percent of the teachers being male. There are no minority teachers or administrations. Some support staff members are minorities. The biggest diversity among teachers is in age and life and teaching experience among the teachers. Still, I was shocked that among the three graduating classes of pre-service teachers in this study all participants were all white, female, and around twenty-three years old. Would the findings have been different if the pre-service teachers group included a wider range of ages and was mixed with males?  How would the results from minority pre-service teachers vary from the all white group?

With widening gaps in achievement between minority and white students schools are scrambling to meet the needs of struggling students.  How can we create equity in our academic settings for all students? “To meet this challenge, teachers must employ not only theoretically sound but also culturally responsive pedagogy. Teachers must create a classroom culture where all students, regardless of their cultural and linguistic background, are welcomed and supported and provided with the best opportunity to learn.” (Richards, Brown, Forde, 2007).Pre-service teachers need to be exposed to multicultural education in more than just one course. Pre-service teachers need to not only read about, but experience firsthand through visiting, volunteering, and meaningful interactions with members from the communities where their future students live.  Experiences will help pre-service teachers confront fears, misconceptions, and prejudices they may hold.  The demographics of teachers and students should not be so disparate. Teacher Colleges should be filled with a heterogeneous grouping of pre-service teachers from diverse backgrounds.


Gay, G. (2002). Preparing For Culturally Responsive Teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106-116.


Jones, R. L. (1984). Attitudes and attitude change in special education: theory and practice. Reston, Va.: Council for Exceptional Children.


King, J. E. (1991). Dysconscious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers. The Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 133.


Richards, H. V., Brown, A. F., & Forde, T. B. (2007).

Addressing diversity in schools: culturally responsive      pedagogy. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(3), 64-68.


Schoorman, D. (2002). Increasing Critical Multicultural Understanding Via Technology: “Teachable Moments” in a University-School Partnership Project. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(4), 356-369.


Watts, W.A. (1984), “Attitude change: theories and methods”, in Jones, R.L(Ed.) Attitudes and attitude change in special education: theory and practice. Reston, Va.: Council for Exceptional Children. Pp. 41-69.





The Untangling of Racism in Education

Toward an Interdisciplinary Understanding of Educational Equity and Difference
The Case of the Racialization of Ability
Alfredo J. Artiles
Artiles, A. J. (2011). Toward an Interdisciplinary Understanding of Educational Equity and Difference: The Case of the Racialization of Ability.Educational Researcher40(9), 431-445.
On a popular radio news talk show this morning, two commentators were discussing the political uproar over the trade of Taliban leaders for Army Sergeant Bowe Berghal’s freedom.   One of the two news commentators was focused on the appearance of Berghal’s father at a press conference with President Obama.  He implied that possibly Obama would not have agreed to a press conference if he had prior knowledge of Berghal’s father’s crazy look, long hair and a long beard. Berghal’s father at the same time being chastised for using Arabic to speak to his son.
 The same radio commentator went on to talk about the haunting and scary pictures of the five Taliban leaders that had been released.  He said their eyes looked evil and their faces were that of criminal malicious men. It is understandable that the Taliban leaders are feared based on the understanding that they are terrorists. However, it was disconcerting that a reputable news commentator only focused on the appearance of the people involved.  As a listener, I interpreted that he judged all six men as crazy and evil based on solely on physical attributes.
 In Artiles article, he reminds of us a time towards the end of the 19th century in the United States when “Ugly Laws” were enacted.  The ugly laws existed in many cities, that judged, persecuted, and often exiled individuals based on the visibility of their class, race, and aesthetics. (S.M. Schweik, 2009, p.3). Based on the comments made by the radio commentator, these individuals should possibly be held under the judgments of the “Ugly Laws”. This reinforces that racist beliefs based on an individuals have not been erased over time in the minds of newer generations. 
When the dominant culture looks at students of color and/or with disabilities are the students automatically judged and placed into a category to fit and fix their conditions of diversity? Racism in any form no matter how unintentional or obscured results in detrimental educational practices and pedagogies that have oppressed, segregated and stolen away students’ access to a fair and equal education. “Although the discourses and practices that intertwined race and ability with other dimensions of difference took place at a distant time, they are well and alive in current educational policy and practice.”(p. 435).
This article is written for members of academia. The information could be very useful for special education teachers and school psychologists wanting to use  the research to support reasons of why NCLB does not work for their students, how inclusion does not really mean equal access to education, and how standardized testing no matter what modifications are made for students historically results in a failing school. Unfortunately, the article was so dense in educational and research jargon it would not be easily comprehensible for many practitioners. My seventeen years in the field of education has not exposed me to the considerable amount of terminology used in the article.  As a novice researcher, I was busily taking notes for later review.  
Artiles supports his arguments throughout the article with expert accounts, testimonies, and quotes from previous research articles, studies, professional journal, reports and books. He thoroughly examined how race concepts are intermingle with educational policies of today.
He uses graphs and charts to clearly illustrate the disporportionality in appropriate identification of special education students among states. Although he is honest in admitting that the data could be stronger if it spanned over many more years making it less generalized. 
The article is organized into three sections. In the first section, Artiles examines notions of justice in how it interacts with race and ability in the context of learning. “These notions of difference have been interlaced in complicated ways throughout the history of American education. (p.431).
The second section is from a historical perspective of how race and ability engagement have brought about complicated and questionable reactions from social institutions. “Many efforts to change educational inequities and enhance opportunities rest on the problematic assumptions and values about race and ability differences and have been informed in part by the ideologies of meritocracy and individualism.”(p. 435).
The third section is a conclusion with an outline of ideas to guide collaborative research on the injustices of race and ability differences. “The interdisciplinary examination of racialization of disability promises to transcend substantial limitations of pervious equity research in terms of how difference is theorized.”  “The proposed frame work promises to contribute to an approach in the study of educational inequities that takes into account the dynamic, culturally situated, and historically produced nature of difference and its consequences.” (p. 443)
             Many components of this article related to my experience as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher.  My students are minorities based on ethnicity and language.  The article examined the shortcomings of NCLB. NCLB is described in the article as a, “Contemporary educational equity project (that) erases difference.” This policy was enacted with regulations for teacher improvement, gains in student performance monitored through testing and a raise in educational choice. (p.436). But in reality, NCLB has had detrimental consequences for students and schools that are struggling. Negative consequence from NCLB mentioned in the article are excessive amounts of time dedicated to teaching to the test and test-taking skill, large amounts of money allocated for remediation of students that fall below on the test, cheating, negative impact on teacher and student relationships, declines in teacher moral, and  school labeled as failing schools lose good teachers and funds. The list of negative consequences heavily out weights the positive.  NCLB did not create a level playing field for all students especially those in minority groups.
 A recent Blog from Education Week, Common-Core Test Experts Explain ELL and Special Education Supports, is about the latest newcomers in standardized testing; Smarter Balanced and PARCC.  Both of the tests are designed around the Common Core Standards adopted by 43 states plus DC.  The makers of these tests claim that the tests are accessible to all students even English Language Learners.  The only real accommodations that are made come in the form of an electronic glossary or allowing students to use a paper glossary provided by the school district. For districts purchasing these standardized tests, it should be obvious that use of an electronic resource is not what will create equity in testing. Hopefully, districts are critically examining the validity and integrity of these tests and the long term effects they will have on students, teachers and school communities.
As a novice researcher, I am learning to see how understanding where inequitable practices originated will be the foundation for my research. I have become aware of how difficult it is to initiate change when racism is still so intertwined in our society that we often do not recognize it. This morning when I listened to the radio, I am sure many listeners did not hear the commentator’s views as racist. This should be not the excuse to passively allow generations of youth to be denied a fair and equitable education. 
L.A.Maxwell. (2014, MAY 30.) Common-Core Test Experts Explain ELL and Special Education Supports. Retrieved from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2014/05/common-core_test_experts_expla.html?r=249541132

A New Generation of Researchers

Participatory Action Research and City Youth:  Methodological Insights from the Council of Youth Research by Mark A. Bautista, Melanie Bertrand, Ernest Morrell, D’Artagnan Scorza & Corey Matthews

Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 10,2013, p.1-23 http://www.tcrecord.org/library ID Number 17142,Date Accessed 6/3/2014


Traditionally researchers are known as academic scholars; distanced outsiders that theorize, observe, critique, and document findings to be read by others in field of academia. Many findings are laden and obscured by the researchers’ personal bias.    In this study research is taken to a new level and redefined by its young participants, methods, and multivocality and multimodality presentation of research outcomes.   The role of the researcher is both participant and knowledge seeker.  “This study is as much about the methodological approaches to educational research as it is about the youth who use these tools to tell their story.” (p. 5).

The authors of this study deliberately morph from all-knowing researchers into facilitators and onlookers for a group of high school students that attend five, underachieving and poverty ridden urban high schools in East and South Los Angeles.  “The students, who traditionally would be the objects of research, become the researchers themselves.”(p. 15). The most powerful part of this study is how through active research, students labeled as disadvantaged minorities, come to understand the power of their voice and ability to initiate change. Students are no longer passive learners or victims of an inadequate inequitable educational system.   “Students’ experiences can help reframe problems and solutions in education while simultaneously producing knowledge that is student-centered and action-driven.” (p.4). Through participation in action research, students take charge of their learning in an authentic and engaging process.

The research mission was “to find out to what degree California students receive an “adequate” education and whether it meets their academic needs.”(p. 8). After exposure to critical sociological texts and learning about research methods, students took their research out to the field.  The student research included both quantitative and qualitative methods. They conducted surveys and interviews with students, teachers, administrators, and elected officials.  They researched data and collected statistics from the internet.  Student researchers’ advantage was that they were insiders.  They lived in the neighborhoods and attended the schools.  Their peers and teachers were more comfortable and honest in sharing information and feelings with the students, than they may have been with outside researchers.

The critical finding for some students was learning what education looked like outside their background knowledge and experiences.  Students visited schools in more affluent areas of Los Angeles that clearly had better resources and facilities than their urban schools.  Data from research informed students of the disparities in quality of education between the poor urban and affluent schools. “The student-researchers honed their critical analysis to understand schooling in urban areas, making a strong case that their projects epitomize the concept of grounded research.”(p. 12).  It became disturbingly evident to the student-researchers that California did not offer an adequate education to all citizens.

The most compelling and innovative part of the study were the modalities in which the student-researchers revealed their findings to their peers, community members, teachers, administrators, and community leaders.  Traditionally research is shared through books, journals, reports, or thesis meant to be read by peers of the scholarly researcher.  The student-researchers were given free rein of ways to present their research.  Students collaborated on media projects such as Power Points and documentaries.  “The PowerPoint presentations and documentaries highlight and validate a range of voices and speakers while explicitly critiquing systematic racism and classism in education and calling for change.” (p. 15).  Authentic student voice and languages were used in the crafting of the documentaries and Power Points.  This in return made the students’ finding comprehensible to their peers and communities.  This is essential if the communities the communities with such a profound disparity in adequate educational resources are to advocate for themselves. “Until we make the power of research accessible to young people and other marginalized communities, educational research will be limited in its scope and impact.”(p. 2)

This study changed my perspective of what it meant to be a researcher and how research can be used as a tool to proactively impact communities.  The student-researchers left behind their labels of underprivileged victims of society to advocates for themselves and their communities.  In my future research, I will look for ways to be inclusive of the people I am studying.  Not only is it an eye opening, it is ultimately an empowering experience for all involved in the process.  It may be the only way to impact measurable change.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” (Chinese Proverb)








How to Research Race? Or not….. Connie Hahne


Methodologically Eliminating Race and Racism by Carole Marks

For the first year and a half of my daughter’s life, Peek-A-Boo was a favorite game.  The game was appealing to my young daughter as she developed her sense of object permanence.  When she could not see me, (hands over eyes); then mommy disappeared.  I relate this to this eye opening article and Marks example of “elimination process.”

The White majority believes that it has made substantial progress in the elimination of racism when in actuality; it is still thriving in the United States. The White majority is like my young toddler’s interactions with object permanence, if one chooses to not see racism it must no longer exist.  Popular terminologies people use to describe their personal voids of racism are color blindness, racially pluralistic, and politically correctness. Marks attributes Alan Wolfe for labeling these people as “racial realists.”(p. 47).  Racial realists believe that race is important, but it is overly exaggerated and politicized.  They believe segregation and inequalities based on a person’s race are a part of America’s past history solved by the Civil Rights Movement.  People that are marginalized and alienated in today’s society can attribute it to a lack of good citizenship and decent moral character. (p. 48)

I found that the following cartoon illustrates the misconceptions of many White Americans’ ideologies about a racist free America.



Marks gives the history of sociology as it has clumsily tried to study race and racism.  She states “much of the time the sociological study of race has been haphazard and quixotic.” (p. 47). She argues that the field of sociology has overtime supported the theory of elimination process, by confirming, “The majority view that civil rights laws have ended racial inequality, that discrimination is in the descendancy and redress readily available for those wronged.” (p. 47).

Sociology has bumbled due to the ever dynamic and non-conforming aspects of race.  Empirical researchers tried to use quantitative research to identify and measure differences.   Biological research was not followed either.  Natural scientists at the time argued that there were no outstanding differences based on genetics or phenotype markers. (p. 51).Sociology researchers have not been able to develop a solid theoretical foundation.  The research that has been conducted is often filled with holes.  Findings often reflect what was already known. The more affluent a person/family, accessibility is facilitated to better schools, jobs, housing, etc. Researchers question how they could study race beyond just, “social-psychological and social problems.” (p. 50) Biases from the researchers impeded them from being totally objective. Marks uses the following observation from Du Bois’s, Dusk of Dawn. “The best available methods of social research are at present so liable to inaccuracies that the careful student disclosed the results of individual research with indifference. “  ( p. 50).

Has sociology played a key role in the establishment and sustainment of racist notions that minorities are indeed a subordinate racial group, never able to reach the levels of the majority race in intellectual and moral capabilities?  Yes, the pool of published researchers is relatively small white sociologists. African American sociology researcher’ articles and studies were systematically not published in major journals.  Their writings and research were judged to not fit into the guidelines of acceptable research. (p.54).   All research being read and published was from a non-minority perspective.  It was the dominate culture’s truth and reality being published, read and ultimately accepted by mainstream America on truths about race.  “The production of knowledge about race, (gender and class) is controlled by small, mostly male, mostly White elite who perpetuate their power by designating, among other things, good and bad scholarship.  Good scholarship on race, using large data sets and sophisticated “scientific” techniques, gets published.”(p. 52).

Marks concludes the article with uncertainly of the next step to take to amend the detrimental ambiguities in research conducted by fellow sociologists.  Expecting others to easily change traditional practices and views is hopeful at best.   Research needs to be humanized. Race needs to be studied through participation, personal experiences and interaction, not just from a far away stance judging of differences.   Articles and studies from minority researchers have to be included and accepted in the major journals.

As a researcher, Marks’ study scared me.  As a student we are taught to believe what is read.  If “experts” are writing it then it is to be considered truth.  The real question is who’s truth is it?  From what bias or preconceived beliefs infects their studies and findings.  As a classroom reading teacher, I am going to add the element of researching about the author to my curriculum . I want my students to learn to not accept everything at face value, but to delve deep and comprehend the authors motives in what they read.

Most importantly Americans need to pull down our hands that cover our eyes in order to clearly recognize that racism is not a problem of the past.  All members of research and academia must acknowledge its harmful effects of on our society and collaboratively work to improve America’s reality for all humanity.

Marks, Carole. (2008). Methodically Eliminating Racism, White logic, White methods, Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi editors. Lanham: Rowman &Littlefield Publishers.

Zuberi, T., & Silva, E. (2008). White logic, white methods: racism and methodology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Culturally Appropriate Education

Connie Hahne

Reaction to Culturally Appropriate Education Theoretical and Practical Implications

by Navin Kumar Singh

Ah-Nee Benham, M. K., & Cooper, J. (Eds.). (2000). Indigenous educational methods for Contemporary practice: In our mother’s voice. Mahwah, NJ:Erlbaum. Culture-Based Education Working Group. (2006). Na lau lama community report.

Retrieved  May 29, 2014 at http://www.ksbe.edu/spi/PDFS/Reports/Na-Lau-Lama/Culture-Based_Education_Worknig_Group_Final.pdf

Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, & practice (2nd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press

Singh, N. K. (2011). Culturally appropriate education: Theoretical and practical implications. In J. Reyhner, W. S. Gilbert & L. Lockard (Eds.), Honoring our heritage: Culturally appropriate approaches to indigenous education (pp. 11-42). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Retrieved on May 29, 204 at  http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/HOH/HOH-2.pdf

UNESCO. (1953). The use of vernacular languages in education (Monographs on Fundamental Education-VIII). Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved May 29,2014 at http://unes-doc.unesco.org/images/0000/000028/002897eb.pdf

Singh begins with the following from the Na-Lau-Lama’s community report about their asset and appreciative based approach to educational reform. (2006, p. 32) It is in words a picture of what education and practitioner should strive to create.

In every school, in every learning community, we can and will find stories of success, if we look for them. We must focus on accomplishment and achievement, we must be tolerant of each other’s differences, and we must learn to share our stories from all of our different perspectives. When we do, we will discover that we all have inside of us the mana–the spiritual power, the wisdom of our ancestors—that can guide us to help ignite our students’ and our own passion for learning, living, and teaching. This can be hard work. There are no shortcuts. But, by doing this, we will enhance our students’ connections to themselves, theirfamilies, their communities, and their world. We must learn to talk-story with each other in ways that tap into that part of us, that energy and excitement that looks for the best in us and each other, and then build our educational strategies from that wisdom. (Culture-Based EducationWorking Group, 2006, p. 32)

Culturally Appropriate Education research dates back to 1953 when UNESCO published, The Use of Vernacular Languages in Education.  Singh provides background information and rationale for Culturally Appropriate Education on not just a national, but also on a global scale to begin making reforms in pedagogy to support diverse learners.  “A culturally appropriate education melds instruction to better fit the expectations and cultural patterns of the group being served. The group’s language, culture, and its worldview are built into the routines, curriculum, and structure of the school. Apart from improving learning achievement of students, culturally appropriate education is a way to perpetuate and build pride in the students’ home culture (Ah-Nee Benham & Cooper, 2000; Cajete, 1994; Cantoni, 1998;Fordham, 1998; McCarty, 2003.)

As I read Singh’s article on Culturally Appropriate Education, I could not help but reflect on my classroom environment and my roles as a teacher for English Language Learners.  I am mindful of my position and responsibility to my students as an advocate, academic facilitator, and cultural guide to American culture.   I try to create a culturally appropriate environment for my students, but I still struggle to incorporate some of the educational practices mentioned into my classroom. I often feel my error is in that I have not taught or allowed my students to become independent individuals.  Although it is a privilege for me, many of my students and their families are too comfortable and trusting of me to make decisions for them in the realm of academia without question.   In observation, I see few of my ELL students confident enough to join activities, clubs, and organizations of the school.  Empowerment can be described as academic competence, self-efficacy, and personal initiative. For this, students should believe that they can succeed in learning tasks and have motivation to persevere, while teachers should demonstrate high and appropriate expectations and provide support for students in their efforts toward academic achievement (Gay, 2010).

This is Singh’s call to action to challenge  educators and policy makers to  explore new innovations in education that are inclusive and respectful of cultures, language, and the rights of all citizens towards creating a national identity within a global community of learners.  He uses prevalent trends in thought and opinion about educational reforms to support his argument.

Although, the document is filled with citations from experts and practitioners of Culturally Appropriate Education, the language used is very comprehensible.  Singh defines Culturally Appropriate Education, the need for it, and gives examples from many different cultures with antidotal examples.  He also gives directives for implementation of a program and discusses the effectiveness of the programs in different cultural academic environments.   In the appendix of the article Singh includes cultural standards for teachers, students, schools, communities and curriculum for Culturally Appropriate Education.   He ends with Checklist for Teachers in Cross-Cultural Schools.  My passion as a teacher is inclusivity for my students.  Based on the theories, testimonials, and expert citations, Culturally Appropriate Education would benefit my students and others that struggle academically and socially in our current school environment.

There is no doubt that current practices are not beneficial to many students that do not fit into the dominate culture mainstream American school environment.  A significant road block in adoption of a Culturally Appropriate Educational methodologies and academic environment would be  getting policy makers, many of whom are of the dominate culture,  to understand the need for change to a Culturally Appropriate Education.

The research of this article was mostly qualitative.  Singh lead outlined the reasons and motivations for needing Culturally Appropriate Education in a wide range of academic setting.  There was no specific data from studies that illustrates over a time span students immerged in academic settings that were Culturally Appropriate, actually were more successful than other students in mainstream programs.  This could make it difficult for schools and policy makers to have buy-in to the validity of Culturally Appropriate Education and would hinder its adoption.




Equally Inclusive to All – Connie Hahne

The newspaper heading every week for the last 20 years could have read as follows, “Education leaders looking for a fix to student underachievement!” Placement of the blame would most likely change weekly.  Ideas for educational reform include more funding, better teachers, smaller class sizes, Common Core Standards and more rigorous assessments. Does a fix really exist within the walls of the school building? How inclusive of all students are the present educational reforms?

I believe most educators and administrators are unaware of or understand how racism affects students’ ability to receive an equal and fair education in today’s schools.  Racism in not an issue of the past, nor was it a passing problem resolved during the Civil Rights Movement.  According to scientist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, “Racial prejudges may be as old as recorded human history.”(p.32)  “All American culture heroes embraced racial attitudes that would embarrass public-school myth makers.” In his book, The Mismeasure of Man. Gould identifies Thomas Jefferson, Plato, and Benjamin Franklin as scholars that published articles about the inferiority of people labeled in present times as minorities.  American school age children learn about these men as the country’s founding fathers, greatest inventors, and philosophers that shaped ways of thinking and living today.  Many contemporaries may state that their racial views hold no detriment on modern society. On the contrary, looking at the current state of our school systems and the struggling students which have been identified as low-income, minority, at risk, and English language learners; it is evident that past racial beliefs from these American cultural heroes has seeped down into school practices, teaching methodologies, and mainstream beliefs about student achievement and behavior.

In his article, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection, Professor Tyrone C. Howard refers to DuBois'(1903) prediction that racial issues would plague the 20th century is even more unsurpassable in the 21st century. All data on student achievement or lack thereof, directly segregates levels of academic success between racial groups.  The dominate culture scoring the highest and the minority groups still struggling and filling up the seats in the alternative placement and special education classrooms.  “Between 1990 and 2012, the educational attainment rate of 25- to 29-year-olds who received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent increased for Whites (from 90 to 95 percent), Blacks (from 82 to 89 percent), Hispanics (from 58 to 75 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (from 92 to 96 percent). The percentage of Whites who received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent remained higher than that of Blacks and Hispanics.” (NCES 2013).

To increase the quality of education for non-dominate culture and non-mainstream students, schools and classrooms need to embrace alternative pedagogy that is inclusive of all students with assessments that are nonbiased to any specific group of students. (Garcia and Ortiz, 2008) Educational reform includes teaching both experienced and new teachers how to best work with diverse populations of students. “Teachers critically analyze important issues such as race, ethnicity, and culture, and recognize how these important concepts shape the learning experience for many students. More specifically, teachers must be able to construct pedagogical practices that have relevance and meaning to students’ social and cultural realities.”(Howard 2011). Students are viewed as valued contributors in the classroom.  The role of learner and teacher bounces back and forth between students and teacher.

True mindfulness, acceptance of a problem, extensive education, and retraining of educators and policy makers are possibly the only ways to break the cycle of centuries long racism.  Martin Luther King believed that all people are ultimately connected. He said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”We are intimately connected.  We cannot continue to ignore a segment of the population and hope the problem will disappear.  Eventually, racism and inequality in education will be detrimental to all.


Garcia, S.B. & Ortiz, A.A. (2013). Intersectionality as a framework for transformative

research in special education. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 13(2) 32­47.

Fast Facts. (n.d.). Fast Facts. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=27

Gould, S. J. (1981). The mismeasure of man. New York: Norton.

Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients For Critical Teacher Reflection. Theory Into Practice, 42(3), 195-202.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2013). The Condition of Education 2013 (NCES 2013–037),