Session 2A: [Un]equal Playing Fields within Education

Session 2A

[Un]equal Playing Fields within Education
4.21.2017 | 12:45p-2:00p | Women’s Center | Student Union, 4th Floor

These presentations will be interrogating education. They will discuss various points of the institution – policy, ideas about choice, cultural inclusion, and potential for critical reform and change – in ways that critique and imagine

Moderator: Kevin Zevallos (Sociology; UCONN)

Participant Abstracts:

Joshua Abreu (Educational Leadership; UCONN)
A Critical Investigation of Criminal Justice Education

This presentation is designed to show how higher education can take part in criminal justice system reform. Through critical discourse analysis of the classroom and curricula, I plan to study how critical perspectives are integrated into criminal justice courses and how the identities/backgrounds of the students and instructors influence that discourse. As evident by both major political parties, the criminal justice system may finally face serious reform. One area that should be included in the reform is Criminal Justice education. More specifically, if policymakers wish to address the over-criminalization of certain, and at times, vulnerable populations, then criminal justice education can include elements of Liberal Education such as self-awareness and critical consciousness. This way, Criminal Justice students are positioned to explore their culture, beliefs and biases and better understand its influence on future professionals in the criminal justice field. In addition to self-awareness, Liberal Education’s emphasis on critical consciousness can help develop students’ understanding of the how power (political, social, economic, etc.), identity, and discrimination impacts criminal justice. Such a perspective can establish Criminal Justice as a more comprehensive academic discipline that does not overly depend on objective knowledge and vocation-like curricula.
Recent research shows that elements of Liberal Education do exist in Criminal Justice programs, but they are marginalized in the curricula and under-utilized inside the classroom. The goal of this research is to obtain a better understanding of how instructors integrate, if at all, content on self-awareness and/or critical consciousness into their courses. For this presentation, I plan to expand on the possible conceptual framework and methodology that will guide my research.

Monique Golden (Educational Leadership; UCONN)
Magnetic Repulsion: Why Aren’t 8th Grade Girls of Color interested in CREC STEM Magnets

The economic theory of rational choice claims that a rational person if provided choices will select the option that is most preferred based on a set of criteria. In the realm of school choice, where school performance measures, reputation and themes are most publicized, parents and students may have other values that conflict, support or interact with a set of school characteristics. What has been conceptualized and accepted as factors that all individuals value as important, have been challenged by researchers who have studied the choice patterns of parents of color from less-advantaged communities. As Walsh (2012) argues, powerful socioeconomic factors and historical perspectives greatly impact patterns of public school choice among low income minority parents, which suggests that it is inappropriate to contextualize the schooling preferences of low-income parents of color using a white middle-class centric understanding of educational values. This study focuses on 8th grade daughters of color and their parents who are in the process of selecting their top schools for the choice application. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to identify what participants value in a high school, their opinions about the choice process and what they perceive to be benefits or drawbacks from their top choice. In this presentation, the presenter will provide evidence from her on-going study that may either challenge or affirm Walsh’s claims.

Ashley Robinson
(Educational Leadership; UCONN)
Benchmarking and Best Practices:
Influence of Mimetic Isomorphic Change on University Responses to Bias

Administrative, team-based responses to bias incidents have become increasingly prevalent on university campuses. There is little existing research to examine the effectiveness of these approaches to bias-response, and the similarities in the protocols are notable. In this comparative case study analysis, I investigate bias-response protocols and related institutional documents at three public, high-research activity universities within a peer group. Drawing on DiMaggio and Powell’s (1983) Institutional Isomorphism framework to examine the forces that have led to similarity in bias response policies and protocols within a peer group of public universities, I find that uncertainty in the institutional environment of three universities encourages modeling between universities, resulting in similar bias response protocols. The analysis invites critique of the capacity of the bias-response protocols to effectively address the issue of bias incidents and underlying causes. The ubiquity of this type of bias response protocol within the institutional field and the mechanisms of institutional isomorphism that provide the environment for its proliferation very likely obscure and prevent innovative solutions that are more radical, those which pose a threat to the hegemonic base of power upon which universities easily rest, but which may more effectively address the root causes of the problem.

 Israel Velez (Educational Leadership; UCONN)
Inequality, Oppression, and Resistance: Latinx students and the College Readiness Process

The purpose of this study is to understand the effects of education inequity on Latinxs college readiness process. More specifically, I seek to explore how Latinxs college readiness process creates a -gap in the school to college pipeline. Students of Color are being educated based on the dominant class’ needs, detaching them from their education (Freire, 1970). As a result of these segregated experiences, an opportunity gap has been created – an opportunity gap that reduces the opportunities for a postsecondary education for Students of Color (Steele, 2011). As such, I utilize Latinx Cultural Race Theory (LatCrit) and statistics from Excelencia in Education to present the results of a system of oppression where the number of Latinx students pursuing a postsecondary education is the lowest in comparison with other ethnic groups.
I compliment LatCrit with Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) framework to explore the ways Latinx students use their community resources to access postsecondary education. Through LatCrit and CCW students’ stories are centered and help to explain and understand the important role the community cultural wealth play for Latinx students as they access postsecondary education.In addition, the CCW helps to describe the important role of college institutions involvement in the college preparation process for Latinx students and their parents. I argue that educational institutions have to embrace the Latinx parents and students so they can feel a sense of belonging. As an equity issue the school personnel, post-secondary institutions and community organizations should create programs where Latinxs can learn about the college readiness process.