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Title:Whose interests are best served through the adoption of a magnet program? A case study of a small urban school and the struggle over race and geography
Author(s):Lee, Amos
Director of Research:Tettegah, Sharon
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Tettegah, Sharon
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Dyson, Anne; Neville, Helen; Huang, Wen-Hao
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Magnet school, STEM, Geography, Critical Race Theory
Abstract:This study used qualitative methods to investigate a magnet program within an elementary school located in a small urban city in the Midwest. The school, Robert Smalls, hosted a STEM magnet program to attract white families to send their children into a majority Black neighborhood. Case study methodology was used in the exploration of Robert Smalls as an instantiation of the larger phenomenon of interest - Black student experiences in magnet programming. The purpose in studying Black student experiences was to better understand the consequences of implementing magnet programs that were structured in ways that catered to and benefited white families’ curricular interests (Bell, 2004; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). The questions addressed in this study centered on what role race and geography played in the magnet reform and how Black students experienced the magnet program as they interacted with their peers and teachers. There were three major findings within this study. The first finding was that the racialized geography within Prairie’s local context shaped the way magnet reform was enacted at Robert Smalls, which then shaped the consequences for Black students within the school. The second finding was that based on the local context in which the magnet reform was enacted, fifth grade teachers at Robert Smalls prioritized magnet based constraints instead of addressing the needs of the Black student participants. The third major finding was that the district’s concession to white demands in regards to gifted programming played a role in a racialized social hierarchy that formed between white and Black students. This racialized hierarchy disadvantaged Black students’ opportunities to learn and participate in STEM content. These findings together point to a magnet program that did not automatically benefit Black children. Instead the magnet constraints, structural forms of racism embedded within the magnet program, and a racialized social hierarchy that formed from catering to white interests limited Black students’ magnet based opportunities.
Issue Date:2018-04-09
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Amos Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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