Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

Sub-Department

Language & Literacy

First Advisor

Pamela Jewett

Abstract

African American children and other children of Color and children living in low-income areas are not performing at the same academic level as their European American counterparts. Some educators have blamed those children and their families for their failure. However, studies show that teaching and learning is happening in all familial settings, and that environments of excellence where the characteristics, conditions, dispositions and practices support student academic success are being established and maintained in all communities, including low-income African American communities. Disregard for this fact has led to a challenge for marginalized children and a widening of the gap between home and school. School districts and Colleges of Education must get involved. Addressing this problem, this study used qualitative methods to explore environments of excellence in a predominantly African American low-income community. Findings were: (1) In environments of excellence, parents incorporate the tenets of culturally responsive teaching, (2) The race, experience, and habitus of teachers influence the ways in which they sort students into categories, and (3) While there were both divergences and convergences between parents' practices and teachers' perceptions, within the convergences there were sites of possibility for critical conversations. The study examines both teacher and parent perspectives, and offers implications regarding the lessons learned about environments of excellence, as well as pedagogical strategies for teachers and teacher educators.

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