Educators Inability to Address Whiteness: Unpacking Race in education and its Effects on the Achievement Gap

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Policy research on the achievement gap in America focuses on NCLB, Every Student Succeeds Act, and human capital policies. I argue before we can create policies that improve the achievement gap, we must have conversations about Whiteness and White Supremacy in education, and how it is affecting students of colors’ achievement on state assessments. Beginning my research, I sought to discover what policies at the local district level were being implemented to address and close the achievement gap. However, as I began interviewing participants, I refined my question to ask, how does the lack of conversations surrounding race among majority White educators effect their ability to provide equitable and quality education? I examined a local Southern California public school district, and conducted 8 ethnographic interviews with three administrators, 3 teachers, the assistant superintendent, and the Director of Intervention and English Learner programs. To provide evidence that there is an achievement gap between White-Black and Brown students I gathered California state assessment results from the California Department of Education. My findings suggest that there is a substantial achievement gap evident in this district. Additionally, I found that educators in this district recognize their perpetuation of systems of Whiteness in their district but choose not to have conversations about Whiteness due to the power of White fragility (Diangelo 2011).


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