Theses Doctoral

Entanglements: An abolitionist and arts-informed curricular analysis of school-based antiracist professional development

Emerson, Abby

Antiracist teacher education in the United States has largely been situated within university-based teacher education programs over the last thirty years. This body of research documents the struggles and possibilities of preparing race-conscious educators who engage in antiracist practices that support diverse student populations.

Despite this body of scholarship, there has been limited research in this area with school-based teacher education through inservice professional development (PD). Yet, there has also been an increase in antiracist and race-forward PD for teachers in schools in recent years. In turn, this study analyzes the curriculum of antiracist PD in New York City schools over the last ten years (2012-2022), seeking to understand the possibilities and tensions.

Using qualitative and visual arts-based educational research methods, I interviewed 28 teachers, school leaders, and PD facilitators. In doing so, I found that the PD curricula across NYC schools largely made room for (a) building educators’ knowledge of structural racism, (b) individual reflection, and (c) changing the student-facing curriculum to be antiracist. However, there were two tangles, or complicated points of tension and contradiction. The first tangle was most visible when one looked at educators’ relationships, especially given the dominance of the carceral paradigm in schools. The second tangle highlights the tension between individual teachers and school institutions, wondering who is responsible for enacting antiracism in schools. I ultimately contend that it is not just antiracist PD that is needed in schools, but abolitionist PD.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Oyler, Celia
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2023