Tag Archives: education research

The New Teachers’ Roundtable: A Case Study of Collective Resistance

New issue of Critical Education launched:

Critical Education
Volume 8, Number 4
March 1, 2017

The New Teachers’ Roundtable: A Case Study of Collective Resistance
Beth Leah Sondel

The New Teachers’ Roundtable (NTRT) is a democratically run collective of new teachers who have become critical of neoliberal reform since relocating to New Orleans, with organizations including Teach For America, as a part of the post-Katrina overhaul of public schools. Through interviews and observations, this study examines the ways in which collective members support each other in attempts to navigate experiences they perceive as dehumanizing to themselves, their students, and their students’ communities. By developing relationships amongst themselves and with other stakeholders affected by and resisting privatization, they are able to challenge their own privilege and begin shifting their perspective and pedagogy. This study aims to contribute to our understanding of how teachers who have been affiliated with market-based movements can be galvanized to work in service of movements that are democratic, anti-racist, and accountable to communities.

Neoliberalism; Teacher Resistance; Critical Pedagogy; Social Movements

Upcoming Institute for Critical Education Studies seminars

The Institute for Critical Education Studies is please to sponsor two upcoming seminars on curriculum issues in Latin America and Spain.

Curricular Discourses with Practical Implications:
Perspectives and Experiences From Spain & South America
September 22, 2016
11:30am – 1:30pm
Scarfe 310
University of British Columbia

This seminar brings together scholars from Spain and South America working within a variety of curriculum studies traditions to discuss curriculum issues in contexts ranging from elementary education to higher education. The seminar will be an opportunity to explore how curricular discourses have implications in educational practices in local, national, and global contexts.

Panelists include Dr. Renato Gazmuri (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile); Sandra Delgado (Colombia), Fernando M. Murillo (Chile), Breo Tosar (Spain), and Héctor Gómez (Chile).

Curricular Ideologies in the Discussion and Negotiation of the Chilean Social Studies Curriculum
Monday, September 26, 2016
Noon – 1:oopm
Scarfe 1209
University of British Columbia

Renato Gazmuri, PhD, Assistant Professor at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile). 

Dr. Gazmuri will discuss his research on the construction of the social studies curriculum in Chile. The Chilean social studies curriculum has been defined through processes of discussion and negotiation between diverse actors and institutions with different views on the subject. In order to identify and describe these ideologies, a sequential and recursive methodological device was designed and applied in three stages of production and analysis of information: a documentary compilation around three curricular events of debate and negotiation, application of questionnaires, and interviews. At each stage a content analysis was performed. Five curriculum ideologies are identified and described, considering their assumptions about how the curriculum should define the subject matter, as well what its aims, contents and its guidelines for teaching.

These seminars are free and open to the public.

The Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES) was formally established in October 2010 to conduct and support cultural, educational, or social research within a critical education or critical pedagogy tradition. The ICES network consists of two flagship journals (Critical Education and Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor), two primary blogs (ICES blog and Workplace blog) and an array of other social media.

New book: The Phenomenon of Obama and the Agenda for Education – 2nd Edition

The Phenomenon of Obama and the Agenda for Education – 2nd Edition
Can Hope (Still) Audaciously Trump Neoliberalism?

Edited by:
Paul R. Carr, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Brad J. Porfilio, CSU, East Bay

A volume in the series: Critical Constructions: Studies on Education and Society. Editor(s): Curry Stephenson Malott, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Brad J. Porfilio, California State University, East Bay, Marc Pruyn, Monash University, Derek R. Ford, Syracuse University.

Published 2015

Anyone who is touched by public education – teachers, administrators, teacher-educators, students, parents, politicians, pundits, and citizens – ought to read this book, a revamped and updated second edition. It will speak to educators, policymakers and citizens who are concerned about the future of education and its relation to a robust, participatory democracy. The perspectives offered by a wonderfully diverse collection of contributors provide a glimpse into the complex, multilayered factors that shape, and are shaped by, education institutions today. The analyses presented in this text are critical of how globalization and neoliberalism exert increasing levels of control over the public institutions meant to support the common good. Readers of this book will be well prepared to participate in the dialogue that will influence the future of public education in United States, and beyond – a dialogue that must seek the kind of change that represents hope for all students.

As for the question contained in the title of the book – The Phenomenon of Obama and the Agenda for Education: Can Hope (Still) Audaciously Trump Neoliberalism? (Second Edition) –, Carr and Porfilio develop a framework that integrates the work of the contributors, including Christine Sleeter and Dennis Carlson, who wrote the original forward and afterword respectively, and the updated ones written by Paul Street, Peter Mclaren and Dennis Carlson, which problematize how the Obama administration has presented an extremely constrained, conservative notion of change in and through education. The rhetoric has not been matched by meaningful, tangible, transformative proposals, policies and programs aimed at transformative change, and now fully into a second mandate this second edition of the book is able to more substantively provide a vigorous critique of the contemporary educational and political landscape. There are many reasons for this, and, according to the contributors to this book, it is clear that neoliberalism is a major obstacle to stimulating the hope that so many have been hoping for. Addressing systemic inequities embedded within neoliberalism, Carr and Porfilio argue, is key to achieving the hope so brilliantly presented by Obama during the campaign that brought him to the presidency.

Acknowledgments. Foreword: Barack Obama’s Neoliberal War on Public and Democratic Education (2014, for the second edition), Paul Street. Foreword: Challenging the Empire’s Agenda for Education (2011, for the first edition), Christine Sleeter. Introduction: Audaciously Espousing Hope (well into a second mandate) Within a Torrent of Hegemonic Neoliberalism: The Obama Educational Agenda and the Potential for Change, Paul R. Carr and Brad J. Porfilio.

SECTION I: USING HISTO RICAL AND THEORETICAL INSIGHTS TO UNDERSTAND OBAMA’S EDUCATIONAL AGENDA. Even More of the Same: How Free Market Capitalism Dominates Education, David Hursh. “The Hunger Games”: A Fictional Future or a Hegemonic Reality Already Governing Our Lives?Virginia Lea. Ignored Under Obama: Word Magic, Crisis Discourse, and Utopian Expectations, P. L. Thomas. The Obama Education Marketplace and the Media: Common Sense School Reform for Crisis Management, Rebecca A. Goldstein, SheilaMacrine, and Nataly Z. Chesky.

SECTION II: THE PERILS OF NEOLIBERAL SCHOOLING: CRITIQUING CORPORATIZED FORMS OF SCHOOLING AND A SOBER ASSESSMENT OF WHERE OBAMA IS TAKING THE UNITED STATES. Charter Schools and the Privatization of Public Schools, Mary Christianakis and Richard Mora. Undoing Manufactured Consent: Union Organizing of Charter Schools in Predominately Latino/a Communities, Theresa Montaño and Lynne Aoki. Dismantling the Commons: Undoing the Promise of Affordable, Quality Education for a Majority of California Youth, Roberta Ahlquist. Obama, Escucha! Estamos en la Lucha! Challenging Neoliberalism in Los Angeles Schools,Theresa Montaña. From PACT to Pearson: Teacher Performance Assessment and the Corporatization of Teacher Education, Ann Berlak and Barbara Madeloni. Value-Added Measures and the Rise of Antipublic Schooling: The Political, Economic, and Ideological Origins of Test-Based Teacher Evaluation, Mark Garrison.

SECTION III: ENVISIONING NEW SCHOOLS AND A NEW SOCIAL WORLD: STO RIES OF RESISTANCE, HOPE, AND TRANSFORMATION. The Neoliberal Metrics of the False Proxy and Pseudo Accountability, Randy L. Hoover. Empire and Education for Class Consciousness: Class War and Education in the United States, Rich Gibson and E. Wayne Ross. Refocusing Community Engagement: A Need for a Different Accountability, Tina Wagle and Paul Theobald. If There is Anyone Out There…, Peter McLaren. Afterword: Working the Contradictions: The Obama Administration’s EducationalPolicy and Democracy to Come (from the 2011 edition), Dennis Carlson. Afterword: Barack Obama: The Final Frontier, Peter Mclaren. Afterword: Reclaiming the Promise of Democratic Public Education in New Times, Dennis Carlson.About the Authors. Index.

Phenomenon of Obama 2 ed

Making sense of report cards [Updated]

It’s report card season. Just how useful are report cards? How should parents respond to their students grades? What kind of questions can or should parents ask teachers about the assessment of their students’ performance? Should parents reward their students for good grades?

Sandra Mathison, an expert on evaluation and co-director of Institute for Critical Education Studies, offers advice on these and other issues in the UBC News Experts Spotlight.

Listen for Dr. Mathison’s comments on report cards today on Vancouver radio (News 1130 and CBC Vancouver’s On The Coast) and television (Global News BC1)

Listen to the podcast of Dr. Mathison’s comments on CBC’s On the Coast, with Stephen Quinn.

From The Province: Don’t overreact when it comes to school report cards: Expert

From News 1130 (Vancouver): Rewarding kids for good grades might not be a good idea: UBC prof. Says it’s more important to focus on the learning process
From Yahoo News: Don’t reward good report cards: UBC professor

From E-Valuation: Reporting Evaluation Results ~ The Case of School Report Cards

Wrapped Up in the Flag: Immigration, Ethnic Studies, and Gun Legislation in Arizona

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the
Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to read articles and other items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Stephen Petrina
Sandra Mathison
E. Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 8 (2014)
Table of Contents

Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse

Wrapped Up in the Flag: Immigration, Ethnic Studies, and Gun Legislation in Arizona
Frances Julia Riemer


In this article, I direct an anthropological lens to the state’s university campuses and to the discursive construction and marketing, as well as the accommodation, negotiation, and contestation of the state’s controversial legislation around diversity education and guns. Focusing on tertiary education, I examine both the ways that the rhetoric of liberalism, that of constitutional rights, the nation state, and individualism in particular, has been employed to package and sell the state’s anti-Ethnic Studies and pro-gun initiatives, and the discursive struggles in which university communities have been engaged in the attempt to rebut these political incursions. I argue that a liberal discourse has been employed to defend what otherwise might be perceived as discriminatory positions enacted on the state level in Arizona. In this border state, demarcated by ever growing racial and class-based difference, legislation promoting assimilationist pedagogy, and wider gun distribution may be desired, but it is most easily defended when wrapped up in the stars and stripes of liberalism.

New review of research on class size by David Zyngier (Monash U, Australia)

Class size and academic results, with a focus on children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities

David Zyngier
Senior Lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy
Monash University

The question of class size continues to attract the attention of educational policymakers and researchers alike. Australian politicians and their advisers, policy makers and political commentators agree that much of Australia’s increased expenditure on education in the last 30 years has been ‘wasted’ on efforts to reduce class sizes. They conclude that funding is therefore not the problem in Australian education, arguing that extra funding has not led to improved academic results. Many scholars have found serious methodological issues with the existing reviews that make claims for the lack of educational and economic utility in reducing class sizes in schools. Significantly, the research supporting the current policy advice to both state and federal ministers of education is highly selective, and based on limited studies originating from the USA. This comprehensive review of 112 papers from 1979-2014 assesses whether these conclusions about the effect of smaller class sizes still hold. The review draws on a wider range of studies, starting with Australian research, but also includes similar education systems such as England, Canada, New Zealand and non-English speaking countries of Europe. The review assesses the different measures of class size and how they affect the results, and also whether other variables such as teaching methods are taken into account. Findings suggest that smaller class sizes in the first four years of school can have an important and lasting impact on student achievement, especially for children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities. This is particularly true when smaller classes are combined with appropriate teacher pedagogies suited to reduced student numbers. Suggested policy recommendations involve targeted funding for specific lessons and schools, combined with professional development of teachers. These measures may help to address the inequality of schooling and ameliorate the damage done by poverty, violence, inadequate child care and other factors to our children’s learning outcomes.

Class size affects more than education

Class size and composition are key issues in the current labour dispute between the British Columbia Teachers Federation and the BC government.

In 2002, the ruling BC Liberals unilaterally stripped away provisions in the teachers’ contract that governed the makeup and number of students in each class. The teachers sued the government over their actions, twice. And the teachers won both times. The government is currently appealing their loss and refuses to follow the courts order that class size and composition conditions be restored.

The teachers and the government’s negotiators have been at the table for many months, with little or no progress. Last week the BCTF started rotating, district by district one-day strikes around the province. The government responded by cutting teachers pay by 10% and, in a bizarre and confusing move, locking teachers out for 45 minutes before and after school and during lunch and recess.

Amongst other things, the BC Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, has been misrepresenting the implications of research on class size. See my previous blog about that, which led to an interview with CBC Radio’s Daybreak North program that was broadcast this morning. You can listen to 5 minute interview here and here:

Page Three: Move along, there’s nothing to see here. Or, how seriously does the BC Ministry of Education take research on teacher education?

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of British Columbia, has been exploring the question of why the BC Ministry of Education would finance a teenager to conduct research on teacher education in Finland. Through Freedom of Information requests the CFA collected and published 115 pages of communications among Rick Davis, Anjali Vyas, the high school grad who was funded to travel to Finland and write a report on teacher education, and other Ministry employees.

These documents raise a number of questions about how the Ministry, and particularly “superintendent of achievement” Rick Davis makes decisions about doling out single source research contracts. These documents also represent events in ways that are inconsistency with the initial media reports about genesis of this project. (Read my previous posts on the subject here, here, and here.

One thing that has been missing is Vyas’ final report to the Ministry. Bateman posted the report on the CTF website today.

Read the report if you like.

Or not, because as you might expect given the circumstances, there are no insights to be found in the report. Not even the “through a student’s eyes” perspective that Davis said was the point of the project. Instead, the report is a collection of general statements, with little or no data to illustrate or support the claims made. For example, there is exactly one quote from interviews conducted in Finland to go with one quote from a UVic student. There are a few references to and quotes from published works, but no reference list. But I’m not really interested in picking apart the report or judging the author.

Rather, my question is what was Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education expecting? Did Davis really believe that funding a 10 month “study” of teacher education conducted by a high school grad would produce insights into the professional preparation of teachers?

I’m at a loss to understand the rationale behind this debacle. Ignorance? Disrespect? A combo platter, with arrogance on the side?

If it’s the first—that is, if the person in the role of “superintendent of achievement” for the province really did believe this was a good use of public funds and could produce useful insights into teacher education—then I respectfully suggest he shouldn’t have that job.

There’s no arguing that Davis and the BC Ministry of Education have, by their actions in this case, illustrated a profound disrespect for teacher education and educational research in general. Perhaps merely an extension of the BC Liberals ongoing disrespect for professional educators.

The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in Revolutionary Education

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the Table of Contents below and then visit our web site to read articles and items of interest.

While visiting the Critical Education web site please register to receive email alerts on future publication or sign up to be a manuscript reviewer. Also consider submitting a manuscript for considerations (see Information for Authors).

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 4 (2014)
Table of Contents


The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in
Revolutionary Education

Arlo Kempf

The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in Revolutionary Education
Arlo Kempf

December 22, 2011, marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the Cuban Literacy Campaign, an initiative that dramatically increased literacy rates across the island and consolidated the presence of the revolutionary government. While Cuban schools are widely celebrated, a paucity of recent scholarship persists treating the structure and tenets, as well as the formal and tacit content of Cuban education. Beginning with an analysis of the political content of the literacy campaign, this article reviews the structure and content of Cuban education with a focus on the role of ideology. While numerous scholars have demonstrated the prescriptive and reproductive function of schooling Euro-American contexts, little comparative international work has treated the interfunction of schooling and ideology in the Global South. This article locates the literacy campaign as the formal genesis of contemporary Cuban ideology. Indeed the literacy campaign was the beginning of a discursive relationship that continues today.

Adult Education; Cuban Education; the Cuban Literacy Campaign; Schooling; Ideology; Marxism; Global South

Teach for America and the Future of Education in the United States (Part 3: Altering TFA’s Trajectory)

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at

Part 3 of our special series “Teach for America and the Future of Education in the United States”, focuses on altering the trajectory of TFA. Guest editors for the series are Philip E. Kovacs and Kathleen deMarrais.

Critical Education
Vol 4, No 13 (2013)
Table of Contents

Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US
Part 3: Altering TFA’s Trajectory

“I want to do Teach For America, not become a teacher.”
Mark Stern, D. Kay Johnston

An Issue of Equity: Assessing the Cultural Knowledge of Preservice Teachers
in Teach for America
Eric Ruiz Bybee

The Outsized Effects of Equating Teaching with Leadership: Implications of
Teach for America’s Vision for Engaging Teachers in Reform
Laura Gutmann

Problems, Politics, and Possibilities: Imagining a Teach For America that
really is for America
Erinn Brooks, Kathleen Greene