Great Expectations

What Kids Want From Our Urban Public Schools

Loyce Caruthers, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Jennifer Friend, University of Missouri - Kansas City

Published 2016

This book explores meaningful and effective use of student voice in urban school renewal efforts through strategies that include: surveys, interviews, focus groups, visual and video projects, social media, and student participation in governance. Chapters provide a definition of student voice, context for public schooling in the United States, and introduce a framework for including student voice in school renewal processes. Examples guide readers to implementation of the framework to include student voices in diverse educational settings. Authentic voices of approximately 175 students interviewed by the authors express what it is that they really want from public schools and how pre K-12 educators can provide a structure for ongoing student participation in governance and the work of the school.

The existing literature explores student characteristics such as poverty, cultural diversity, and what the experts believe students need public schools to provide. Within the research, urban public schools and technical reform are often explored and examined separately from conversations about what students want from schools, excluding opportunities for their voices and diverse perspectives to be heard. Listening to students describe instances of bullying or teachers’ low academic expectations provides educators with opportunities to address issues that impede student learning. The uniqueness of this framework for including student voice is that it provides multiple opportunities for students in any grade level to tell us what it is they want from public schools, and to make meaningful and lasting contributions to school renewal efforts.

Foreword, Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings. Dedication, Introduction, Dr. Loyce Caruthers and Dr. Jennifer Friend. PART I: STUDENT VOICE AND THE CONTEXT FOR URBAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES. Student Voice and Storytelling: The Value in Listening to Students, Introduction. Student Voice and Symbolic Violence. Student Voice and School Renewal. Student Voice and Storytelling. The Power of Stories. The Paradigm of the Personal: Voice. Interrogating Race, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. The Demonstration of the Deconstruction Process. Mike’s Story. Deconstruction of Mike’s Story. Storytelling and School Renewal. The Constructed Others: Race, Gender, Identity, and Intelligence, Introduction. The Construction of “Otherness”. Intersections of Race, Gender, and Class: Identity Development and Intelligence. The Construction of Race. Intersection of Race, Gender, and Class. Identity Development. Race and Intelligence. Conclusion. The Constructed Others: Issues of Power and Privilege, Introduction. Social Class: Issues of Power and Privilege. Schools and the Narrative of Power and Privilege. The Narrative of White Privilege. Conclusion. The Policy Context for Urban Public Education in the United States, Introduction. Educational Finance: Issues of Equity and Adequacy. Federal Legislation for Public Education. Looking to the Future. The Numbers: America’s Love Affair with Statistics, Introduction. Race and Student Achievement. Poverty and Student Achievement. Building Cultural Capital. Conclusion. PART II: THE FRAMEWORK FOR INCLUDING STUDENT VOICE IN URBAN SCHOOL RENEWAL. The Framework for Including Student Voice in Urban Schools, Rationale for Implementing the Framework for Student Voice. Engaging Student voice for Public Interest. The Framework for Including Student Voice in School Renewal. Systematic Data Collection: Diverse Students’ Perspectives. Collaborative Data Analysis: Involve Diverse Stakeholders. Preliminary Conclusions and Hypotheses. Additional Data Collection and Analysis. Conclusions Integrated into School Renewal Process. Evaluation and Reflection. Continue to Implement the Framework. Kids Want Caring Teachers with High Academic Expectations, Introduction. Individual Variables and Class-level Expectations. Individual Variables. Academic Achievement. Program Placement. Gender. Language. Socioeconomic Class. Temperamental Styles. Race and Ethnicity. Classroom-level Expectations. Caring Teachers. Kids Want to Feel Safe at School, Introduction. School Climate. Bullying. Feeling Safe at School. Kids Want Active and Engaging Learning Opportunities, Introduction. Student Engagement. Theories of Underachievement. Deficit-deprivation Theory. The Theory of Structural Inequality. Tracking. The Theory of Cultural Discontinuity. Fourth Grade Failure Syndrome. The Acting White Theory. Lure of the Street Life Theory and Peer Pressure. Parents are at Fault Theory. Underprepared Teachers. Low Teacher Expectations. Conclusion. Kids Want to Know More about Their Own Cultures and Cultures of All People, Introduction. African-centered Schools. English-language Learners. The Nature of Culture? Culturally Competent Teachers. Multiculturalism. McLaren: Forms of Multiculturalism . King’s Deciphering Knowledge. Multicultural Citizenship. Critical Race Theory as a Lens for Understanding Diversity. Conclusion. PART III: APPLYING THE FRAMEWORK: FINDING OUT WHAT KIDS WANT FROM URBAN SCHOOLS. Students Interviews and Focus Groups, Introduction. Interviews and Focus Groups: Entering the World of Students. Face-to-Face Interviews. Student Focus Groups. Interviewing with a Purpose. Selecting the Interviewer. Selecting Interview Participants. Deciding on Interview. Questions. Types of Questions. Formulating Questions and What to Avoid. Probing. The Interview Guide. Making Meaning of Interview Data. Conclusion. Student Surveys , Introduction. Survey Design and Selection. Likert Items. Open-ended and Closed Questions. Reliability and Validity. Survey Administration . Sampling Techniques. Analyzing and Applying Survey Results. Analyzing Survey Results. Sharing and Utilizing Survey Results . Ethical Considerations. Visual Methods and Technology, Introduction. Critical Arts-Based Inquiry. Student-Produced Video Projects. Technology and Online Social Networks. Student Blogs, Wikis, and Online Publications. Conclusion. Students Participating in Governance and School Committees. Introduction. Preparing Adults and Students for Collaborative Governance . Students and School Governance. Students on Local Governing Boards: Chocolate Milk Every Day! Site-Based Advisory Council. Student Service on School Committees . Conclusion. Conclusion., Introduction. Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Culturally Responsive Teaching. Funds of Knowledge. Cultural Modeling Framework. Reflections. Implications and Future Recommendations. Honoring the Voices of Students. Engaging Student Voice for Community Leadership. Future Research. Additional Resources on Race. Student Assent Form. Parent Consent Form. References. Acknowledgments. About the Authors.