Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Two Steps Forward and One Step Back: A Case Study Exploring Anti-Racist Professional Development for Educators and the Barriers that Derail Progress Toward Transformational Action Public Deposited

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  • Research overwhelmingly suggests that Black and Brown students face unjust and inequitable environments in K-12 schools in the United States (Bradshaw et al., 2010; Carter et al., 2017; Coles & Powell, 2020). These injustices often occur as a result of systemic racism and are replicated because of embedded racist policies and practices that are carried out by educators that are unaware of or unwilling to address them (Bradshaw et al., 2010; Carter et al., 2017; Coles & Powell, 2020). A growing body of research suggests that educating teachers, administrators, and support staff about anti-racism through professional development has a positive impact on reducing disparities for Black and Brown students and helps increase equity in educational institutions (Carter & Richmond, 2019; Kohli et al., 2015; Lawrence & Tatum, 1997).The following dissertation is a qualitative case study that explores how educators demonstrate ideological and political clarity during an anti-racist professional development (APD) course, what actions educators take after the course, and what barriers impact taking action. Through case study methodology and drawing on critical race theory and critical pedagogical principles, this dissertation documents the experiences of participants at three elementary schools within one school district who attended an APD (Bartolomé, 2004; Delgado & Stephancic, 2023). Findings indicate that APD does help develop educators’ ideological and political clarity and does lead to some specific actions that increase anti-racism, but that actions are rarely transformative, and that multiple barriers connected to interest convergence further impede implementation of anti-racist practice and policy. Additionally, exploration of APD highlights racialized trauma experienced by BIPOC participants. I provide implications for future research and recommendations specifically for school district leadership, facilitators of anti-racist professional development, administrators, and other stakeholders.
  • Keywords: critical race theory, anti-racism, professional development, barriers, political clarity, ideological clarity, critical pedagogical principles
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