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Title:The roles and experiences of Black school social workers: are they prepared to fill in the gaps for Black youth in K-12 school settings?
Author(s):Gholson, Tiffany Cheryl
Director of Research:Pak, Yoon
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pak, Yoon
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Dixson, Adrienne; Welton, Anjale; Teasley, Martell
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):school social work
critical race
social work practice
culturally congruent pedagogy
African American
Abstract:Illinois has the largest number of school social workers in the country; yet their roles and areas of expertise are still unclear to many. The disproportionate disciplinary action taken against Black students and the persistent academic achievement gap that remains between Black and white students continue to plague many schools. Historically, Black social workers have stepped in to fill in the gaps suffered by poor and disadvantaged Blacks in the past that encompassed economic needs, health needs, as well as educational ones within the Black communities (Bell, 2014). The purpose of this research is to understand if the responsibility to address the needs of Black students is still a high priority for Black school social workers as well as examine how their social work role have evolved in the 21st century. This research focused on the lived experiences of 12 Black school social workers in Illinois and described their roles in the school setting, where they often advocate for themselves even as they advocate for the students they serve. This qualitative study explored this phenomenon through in-depth, focused interviews. Ecological systems theory, which is at the heart of social work practice, and critical race theory in education were used as theoretical guides for this study. This study yielded 6 salient themes: early experiences of race, gender, and class; graduate school training; membership in the school community; obligation to Black youth; negative experiences in the workplace; and career satisfaction. The findings suggested that the Black school social workers felt satisfaction in their careers assisting youth in direct practice (micro-level work) but that the knowledge and skills necessary to create systemic change (macro-level work) and address racial inequities in the school settings were lacking.
Issue Date:2015-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Tiffany Gholson
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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