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Moving Towards a School-wide Model for Teaching and Social Justice

For teachers and educators, like myself, to become open to global ideas and values, a strong commitment to social justice is essential. This commitment is about knowing what is actually going on throughout a country in the many schools where education, community activists, students, and others are keeping alive the very real possibilities of an education that is pedagogically progressive and socially critical. It means answering the call for a social justice approach followed by the shift toward a public health models of service delivery. It means acknowledging public health models that have brought a new conceptualization of comprehensive services for the nation’s youth is not enough to bridge disparity. Learning does in fact happen throughout teachers’ careers as the result of engagement with a wide array of experiences, both within and outside of formal teacher education venues. While field placements can provide powerful learning opportunities, they can also present challenges for some individuals such as pre-service teachers, field-based educators and university-based teacher educators. Still, these venues do introduce students to professional resources early on by transmutable identity.

In the teaching area, it is important to take four steps including direct comparison, indirect comparison, measurement with a non-standard unit and measurement with a standard unit. To promote taking these steps, we need to have rationale ahead of time for task design. Underlying intrinsic motivation means taking the innate psychological needs for competence and self-determination more seriously. Ostensibly, events that decrease perceived self-determination and lead to a more external perceived locus of causality will undermine intrinsic motivation. However, those that increase perceived self-determination and lead to a more internal perceived locus of causality will enhance intrinsic motivation. Teacher educators need to also answer to the clinical aspects of school practice and experiment with how best to help novices develop skilled practice. In the future, teachers will need to undergo a number of access driven activities to this needed expertise from different systems, the concepts of horizontal expertise, boundary crossing, and knotworking proving particularly useful in theorizing overlapping relationships.

To see things or people clearly, one must resist viewing other human beings as mere objects and view them with integrity and particularity instead. A perfect example of social justice in schools that works is through extensive interaction among Trenton’s senior administrative group and the Trenton Board of Education, school communities, employee organizations, and the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE). Trenton came up with a strategy to turn the district school system into a more effective institution. Among their key efforts were to take a creative approach to areas in which the New Jersey DOE was unsure about how to move ahead, such as school based budgeting, preschool program implementation, and facilities planning. Next, Trenton schools sought to keep elected officials including the mayor, city council, and their legislative delegation informed and unified with regard to local education issues. Next, Trenton schools looked to emphasize the district mission of insuring that as many students as possible who enter ninth grade complete high school and go on to college, work, or military service. The school’s superintendent discussed with all teachers, administrators and others involved in the reform process that what the Trenton community and parents wanted more than higher test scores for their children, was for their children to develop into adults who are responsible and self-supporting. Next, Trenton schools reduced or cut the long standing problems of the district like their alarming drop rate, high incidence of special education referrals, high failure rates on state tests as well. Trenton also improved on the undue use of suspension as a disciple strategy, and deal with the high rates of retention and course or subject failure. Finally, Trenton looked to remove school principals and teachers who cannot lead reform and replace them with ones who can, which entailed recruiting a cadre of young and minority administrators with strong moral purposes and strong backgrounds in instructional leadership. This plan for social justice is similar to Newark’s efforts.

Newark, part of New Jersey’s Global Village Zone, created an effort to coordinate instruction, teacher coaching and family social services in seven high need neighborhood schools in the city’s Central Ward. This is what social justice for schools is all about. Constructed by Dr. Pedro Noguera, a professor and urban center director, Global Village Zone has served as a catalyst for social justice in schools. The six schools that currently make up the Newark Global Village School Zone: Sussex Avenue school, Cleveland School, 18th Avenue School, Newton Street school, Quitman community School, and Newton Street School all have grown stronger in terms of social justice equality. The vision of the Newark Global Village Expanded Learning Time Initiative was that all students would benefit from a second shift of educators. These second shifts would include a comprehensive mix of certified teachers, college students, artists, and other trained community residents. By being a part of this effort, these afterschool educations participate in NJ After 3’s year-round training program, and receive regular technical assistance and support from NJ After 3’s Program Team to ensure they have the skills, capacity and experience to deliver measurable results. The Newark Global Village School Zone is in the Student Performance Business to accelerate school improvement for scholars (grades 1-8 )and shows us how important social justice is for a city like Newark. The purpose of The Newark Global Village has been to increase learning time as a catalyst to accelerate learning, deepen student engagement, and improve the quality of instruction and it has done so. Expanded learning time has meant that at least 7.5 hours of additional learning time per week will be provided for selected students in grades 1-8. Lastly, Newark’s school days under The Newark Global Village School Zone have provided for more time for core academics, enrichment, and teacher collaboration. This moving plan meaning equality is being reached from different points.


Author: David M. Chapinski is a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University. He is also an adjunct professor at Felician College (Rutherford campus), Long Island University (Rockland, Hudson campuses), and St. Francis College (Brooklyn campus). His research interests include studies of public economies: Multi-organizational, Multi-level Institutional and Risk Analysis.

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