Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Winter 12-22-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Lakes

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Dr. Deron Boyles

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kristen Buras

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Chantee Earl


Neoliberal education policies ignore the intersections of place and race when it comes to accountability at urban schools. The result is schools serving marginalized communities of color often are labeled failures because they do not meet the numerical thresholds established by the state. This ethnographic study examined the ways seven veteran educators shared their educational knowledge with students, parents, and the community as a form of cultural subterfuge, acknowledging state accountability goals but working to improve the community as a whole. The study took place at Clement, an urban elementary school, during the 2016-2017 school year. The research involved 12-20 hours a week of participant observation coupled with 3 interviews per participant. Data sources included field notes from each day of observations, interview transcripts, and visual and auditory material recorded during observations. The study investigated how seven educators navigated and negotiated the constraints of accountability policies while helping to create a site of hope by incorporating pedagogical practices with community outreach. Methodologically driven by the principles of desire-based research (Tuck, 2009) and critical race theory (Ladson-Billings, 1998), the study found that veteran educators were policy adapters and cultural responders. Policy adapters are educators who, over the course of sustained careers, maintain their own pedagogical beliefs while striving to meet policy demands, especially related to accountability and testing. Cultural responders are educators who nurture Black children to reach their highest potential while honoring their cultural backgrounds and assets. In this study, educators were policy adapters and cultural responders who reached out to the community as well as into themselves to create hope and provide children with an education that enriched their lives.


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