Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Searching for Greener Grass: The Experiences of African-American Educators Who Left High-poverty, High-minority Schools for Employment in Middle- and Upper-class Suburban Schools
by Young, Natalie, Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, 2018, 185; 10831021
Abstract (Summary)

Frequently plagued by high teacher turnover rates, schools in urban areas serving high populations of minority students become labeled as “hard-to-staff schools. Research reflects that African-American teachers are highly populated within these schools. In contrast, the number of African-American teachers employed in suburban schools with smaller numbers of minority students are significantly lower. There is a deficit in the literature examining the experiences of teachers, specifically African-American teachers, who leave urban schools and gain employment in suburban, middle and upper-class schools.

Teachers who leave high minority, high-poverty urban schools and gain employment in middle- and upper-class schools in suburban settings have unique experiences. Most research does not explore teachers’ experiences in their new school setting. In contrast, this study examines the unique experiences of African-American teachers who left high-poverty, high-minority (HPHM) schools to serve in middle and upper class (MUC) schools.

A qualitative approach, specifically a comparative case study model, is used to examine the experiences of participants. The participants are six veteran African-American teachers who have had experiences in both HPHM schools and MUC schools. Their personal narratives were collected through one-on-one interviews, letter writing, and a focus group meeting. The data collected was transcribed and openly coded using NVivo.

Using Critical Race Theory and concepts found in Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, this research investigates the inequities experienced by participants. Utilizing critical race theory allows this study to investigate the ways in which race plays a role in the experiences of participates situated within predominately White workspaces. Applying the ideas of cultural capital helps this study to investigate the ways in which participants’ non-dominate cultural capital is valued and/or devalued within HPHM and MUC schools.

The purpose of this research is to explore how race impacts the experiences of African-American teachers that transitioned from HPHM settings to MUC school settings. Exploring their stories show that racism is not an issue of the past, instead it is embedded in our society and in our day-to-day interactions. Common institutional practices exhibited in schools continue to reproduce inequities between the dominant culture and minorities. This study explores these common practices through examining first-hand experiences of African-American educators in today’s classrooms.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Flynn, Joseph
Commitee: Burch, Kerry, Stich, Amy
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Education
Keywords: African-American teachers, Critical Race Theory, Cultural capital in education, High-minority schools, High-poverty schools, Racism and microaggressions in education
Publication Number: 10831021
ISBN: 978-0-438-39174-1
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