Jerry Rosiek is an Associate Professor of Education Studies at the University of Oregon, USA. His recently published book, Resegregation as Curriculum, is the 2016 recipient of AATC's O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award!
What made you decide to write this book?
My work had previously focused on how teachers engage in anti-racist and anti-colonialist education at the classroom level.Educational inequality doesn’t start in the classroom, so over time the focus of my work had shifted to the way broader social influences made themselves felt in the classroom.By the time I started the research that led to this book, I was looking for a way to convey to teachers, administrators, and others the nuances of the way policy violently impacts students’ educational experiences.
I happened to be living in an area that was seeing desegregation orders lifted and schools almost immediately moving back in the direction of greater racial segregation.My co-author Kathy Kinslow and I felt a moral obligation to address the issue.We started a small pilot project, interviewing local teachers and parents about the resegregation of their city schools.Interest grew rapidly.People began calling us asking to be interviewed.People wanted their stories told and their voices heard on this issue.At one point ten graduate students were working with us and we were able to interview hundreds of people, including high school students.The project had a life of its own.It still does, because the issue of racial resegregation in schools is not going away.It is getting worse.The issue continues to demand our attention.
What is the one thing you hope readers take away from this book?
That students in schools are reading the social text of educational policy decisions with a great deal of lucidity.They are watching us and see the ideological influences on school policy and educator action.It is not just books and lesson plans that form the curriculum in our schools.The racially stratified structuring of our public schools also conveys messages to students.These messages teach students things about what people think about them, about their personal possibilities, and about the possibility of justice and fairness in our communities.We are all responsible for these messages.In the case of current desegregation/resegregation policy we are teaching a racist and classist curriculum.It needs to change.
Is there something you think is important to highlight about this topic?
What comes through clearly in this study is that the phenomena of racial resegregation in schools cannot be sufficiently understood using any single mode of analysis.Racism manifests at the individual psychological level in the form of implicit bias and microaggressions. It manifests at the social and cultural level in the form of discourses that form us as racialized subjects and then mark some racial identities as more worthy of care than others.And it manifests in material ways through school zoning patterns, differential access to educational resources, racially encoded property values, etc.Using a combination of critical race theory, pragmatist semiotics, and post-humanist philosophy, this book offers a model of how to move between these levels of analysis in the study of institutionalized racism.
What is a common misconception about this topic that you would like to clear up?
That evidence alone, when narrowly conceived, is not be enough to improve our education system.We live in a time when policy making discourse is almost exclusively focused on “evidence-based” and “data-driven” educational practices.Increasingly policy makers seek to control the content of curriculum, the method of its presentation, and even the way teachers are prepared. The unacknowledged presumption in all of this effort to centralize control of education is that policy-makers can be trusted to identify the data that should guide educational activities.
The pattern of increasing racial segregation in our public schools puts to lie this assumption that policy makers can be trusted to do what is best for our children.We have a great deal of evidence that desegregation closes the achievement gap and increases overall educational outcomes.And yet, policy makers avoid even discussing the possibility of a renewed commitment to desegregation.Until this changes, we will be sending children of all races into a schools system that by its very design is teaching them that racism is acceptable and inevitable.This means we need to prepare teachers to teach against the grain of this hidden curriculum of racism in schools.And it means we cannot turn over control of teacher education to the very federal, state and local policy makers responsible for the racial resegregation of our schools.
"Blending critical race theory, contemporary pragmatism, and the new materialism, this book raises questions about methodology, power, and change. Educational policy analysis needs this book, as do curriculum studies, teacher education, and antiracist work for its focus on how policy is lived by…
Paperback – 2015-12-11
The Critical Educator
Each year, the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC) acknowledges an Outstanding Book in Education. AATC, as a recognized major society in the common fields of curriculum and teaching, selects a book that merits high praise and recognition. The award is given in recognition of scholarship that adds substantively to the body of knowledge about the practices and theories of curriculum and teaching. This award, dedicated to O. L. Davis, carries with it the society’s highest sense of honor. O.L. Davis, Jr. is professor emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin and a long time member of AATC. Dr. Davis was instrumental in developing AATC into a well-recognized organization dedicated to the discussion, exploration, practice, and research of teaching and curriculum as they impact curricular policy, instruction, and theory.
The book is selected by a five-member committee chosen by the Executive Board of the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum. The recipient of the award will receive a plaque at the AATC Conference.