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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Chasing Equity: A Study on the Influence of Black Leaders on Federal Education Policy-making
by Harris, Khalilah M., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 114; 10750932
Abstract (Summary)

Black students are persistently underserved by public education and have had significant gaps in performance, as compared to their white counterparts, on established assessments and measures of educational attainment regardless of socio-economical background (Ladson-Billings, 2006; Milner, 2012; P. Noguera, 2013; Steele, 1992). A great deal of education policy-making at the national level in the United States is aimed at decreasing gaps in achievement between students of color and white students (Barton & Coley, 2010; Berlak, 2001; Carter, 2009; Gardner, 2007). The federal government adopted this role with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1964 and was codified through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Education reforms embedded in and promoted by federal policies are, at times, both embraced and shunned by members of the Black community (Murtadha & Watts, 2005; Scott, 2011; Warren, 2005), whose children are most readily affected based on the demographics of urban, rural and low-income communities. To cultivate equity in inputs and lasting, sustainable improvement in outcomes, members of those communities and leaders from those communities seeking to represent the voices of their community members should be involved at critical decision-making points in creating and implementing policies (Beabout & Perry, 2013; Leonardo, 2003; Warren, 2005).

Drawing on Critical Race Theory (CRT) (Dixson & Lynn, 2013; Ladson-Billings & Tate IV, 1995; Lynn & Parker, 2006) I set out to conduct a qualitative study targeted at identifying opportunities for Black people to have effective levels of influence in national education policy-making which heavily impacts their communities. I interviewed leaders active in the national education reform socio-political landscape in order to gauge their perspectives on leverage points in the process of federal education policy-making and the presence of Black voice and leadership at those critical points in the process.

CRT calls for exploration of phenomenon to the extent it can illuminate strategies to improve the conditions of a race of people (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012; Ladson-Billings, 2013; Lynn & Parker, 2006). Identifying ways in which race impacts education policy-making through examination of the narratives of those doing the work to influence those policies, can shed a light on gaps and opportunities for developing more thoughtful policies. Through inductive thematic analysis, this study mines strategies from the information shared by study participants, highlighting ways in which members of the Black community can be most effective at influencing federal education policies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McKee, Annie
Commitee: Gadsden, Vivian, Perry, Andre, Quinn, Rand
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership
Keywords: Black, Critical, Education, Equity, Leadership, Race
Publication Number: 10750932
ISBN: 978-0-438-04603-0
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