Research from The Educational Forum: E Pluribus Unum: Mohawk Indian Students’ Views Regarding the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance

Today’s blogger is Dr. Leisa Martin, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at The University of Texas at Arlington. She writes here about research recently published in an article (co-authored with Dr. Glenn Lauzon, Dr. Matthew Benus, and Mr. Pete Livas Jr.) in The Educational Forum.

The main purpose of schools is to prepare youth for citizenship in our democratic society, and schools offer an opportunity to reach youth across the nation over an extended period of time.

To promote loyalty and love for the United States, Francis Bellamy, the author of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, and James Upham, the creator of the Pledge salute, partnered with the U.S. government and school superintendents across the country to host the first nationwide Pledge of Allegiance recitation in October 1892. Over the years, the Pledge has become a school tradition. But are today’s diverse youth still choosing to embrace this time-honored practice?

Our study took place in the northeastern United States with 191 high school students, of whom 88 were Akwesasne Mohawks, 80 were European Americans, and 23 who classified themselves as Other. Via two open-ended survey questions, we asked the following: 1) While the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is being recited, do you say it? Why or why not? 2) What do you think about while the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is being recited? Following the surveys, to obtain clarification, we led 25 follow-up interviews. We analyzed the data using the constant comparative method to obtain response categories, and then, we used chi-square tests to learn if statistically significant differences existed between the ethnic groups.

Overall, 68.6% of the participants reported that they do not recite the Pledge, and the chi-square analysis revealed that the Mohawks and the students who classified themselves as Other were less inclined to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance than their European American classmates. With respect to the participants’ rationales, chi-square analysis revealed that the Mohawk students were more apt to give no reason or a limited reason for not participating in the Pledge compared to the European Americans and the students who classified themselves as Other. For example, a Mohawk student commented, “No, because I don’t want to.” Also, chi-square analysis indicated that the Mohawks and the European Americans were more apt to cite their status as a Mohawk, a Native American, or tradition as their reasons for reciting or not reciting the Pledge than students who classified themselves as Other. A Mohawk student stated, “My Dad always taught me that when you’re Native, don’t stay [show allegiance] to one country. Stay to your people. I feel like [the Pledge] contradicts what he always told me.” In addition, the chi-square showed that European Americans and students who classified themselves as Other cited peer conformity more often than the Mohawk students. For instance, a European American wrote, “Sometimes. I would feel out of place if I did because no one else (except teachers) recites it.”

With respect to their thoughts during the Pledge, the chi-square revealed that the Mohawk students were more apt to have thoughts of dislike about the Pledge compared to their European American peers and their peers who classified themselves as Other. For example, a Mohawk student commented, “I don’t really care for it. I don’t listen to it. I ignore it.” In addition, the chi-square tests indicated the Mohawk students were less disposed to have patriotic thoughts during the Pledge of Allegiance compared to classmates who were European Americans or who classified themselves as Other.

U.S. schools were developed to socialize students. In my previous research with primarily European American and African American high school students (Martin, 2012), the students generally expressed positive views about the Pledge. Similarly, in a study with students of unspecified race/ethnicity (Parker, 2007), students accepted the Pledge and saw it as a normal part of life with very little need for critical reflection. However, socialization via the schools is not an automatic process; traditions from the past may change in the present. For example, in our study, 68.6% of our participants chose to reject the Pledge and its underlying call for e pluribus unum. Because U.S. society is becoming increasingly diverse, future research offers an opportunity to examine attitudes about the Pledge on a national level.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. Martin’s article free with the education community through July 31, 2017.  Read the full article here.

Research from The Educational Forum: Orienting Schools Toward Equity

Today’s blogger is Rachel Garver, a doctoral candidate in Teaching and Learning at New York University. She writes here about her research on racial and economic inequality, school segregation, and policy implementation recently published in The Educational Forum.

For the last two decades, the United States has pursued educational equity by holding schools accountable for the comparative outcomes of student subgroups.  

Subgroup accountability, part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since its 2001 reauthorization, requires states to identify and intervene in schools where the progress of student subgroups based on race, economic disadvantage, or English proficiency is lagging. Cited schools must show improvement for the subgroups identified by the state or they will face a series of increasingly severe sanctions.

Research on subgroup accountability pressure is mixed. In some cases, the subgroups cited by the state show progress in subsequent years and in other cases there was no effect.

The promise of subgroup accountability pressure to promote equity relies on the process of policy implementation in schools. How school-based actors interpret and enact mandates determines the form in which policy interventions reach students and thereby impacts outcomes.

I utilize an ethnographic case study of Germaine Middle School (pseudonym) to explore the means through which subgroup accountability pressure oriented the school toward equity and, more specifically, toward the student subgroups cited by the state—if at all.

I find that subgroup accountability pressure encouraged Germaine to focus on their achievement gaps in general, but did not lead to targeted interventions for the state-identified student subgroups.

Why did the school’s citation hold little weight in the day-to-day practices at Germaine? A lack of transparency in the state’s calculations, a lack of faith in the state exams and test scores used to identify cited schools, and ethical concerns with using accountability data to inform instructional and curricular reforms delegitimized the state’s determinations in the eyes of Germaine’s staff members. School-based understandings of which student subgroups were most in need drove Germaine’s equity work, instead of subgroup accountability pressure. However, district administrators insisted that Germaine align its compliance practices with the state findings and measures, even if they were symbolic and irrelevant to classroom practice.

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal policy has played an important role in equalizing educational opportunity for marginalized student groups across the wide variance in state politics and practices. The promise of subgroup accountability to promote equity in schools is dependent on how it is received and implemented by state, district, and school actors. For subgroup accountability to fulfill its intentions, citations need to be delivered to schools with greater transparency. Moreover, districts, as intermediaries between the state and schools, must support schools in responding to citations in ways that prioritize equity over state compliance pressures.

Unsung Hero: Jolene Daw

Jolene was, to me, in many ways, the most influential teacher I had throughout my educational journey to becoming a teacher.

She taught a general beginning college class, but she did such an awesome job that she has had a hand in everything I do now.

While most professors I’ve had really did not pay much attention to details, she was very attentive to every aspect of at least what I did. From what I could tell, my classmates all thought so as well.

But what has really stuck with me is how she always made time to talk with me long after I was no longer her student. She was my mentor through my entire time at Grand Canyon University (GCU).

We have been in touch since my graduation and it is ALWAYS great to speak with her. She was the only one of my instructors that I wanted to meet up with as a part of my celebration to graduation. She even had lunch with me and my wife at Cooperstown in Pheonix.

Throughout my degree path, she encouraged me to always do my best and would even critique some of my research papers—giving me ideas and thoughts that I could use to better my presented report prior to submission, when I was not in her class anymore. This was something she would do for me up to my final benchmarks as a senior.

Did I mention that my degree was obtained via an online program?

We never met face-to-face until having lunch, and I had no idea what she looked like, but I knew how much her support meant to me! She was at the time, the youngest professor in the online instructional program for GCU, but displayed a remarkable amount of knowledge and experience.

One thing she also did for me was give me the courage to not just continue in getting my bachelor’s degree but to push forward in working on a master’s, which I plan to start in fall or spring, at the latest. She, on several occasions, told me that if I did that she would back me on an application to teach in the program and become a colleague. I will be attempting to do just that after obtaining my masters degree.

I am sure that I would have completed my degree had I not had her in my corner. I am also sure that, without her support, I would not have finished with a 3.87 GPA, I would not have been Magna Cum Laude, and my drive to move forward in my education would not be as strong as it is now.

Jolene is my hero, my guide in many ways, and I am proud to say that I call her my friend.

I am looking forward to hopefully be calling her my colleague in the future as well.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Jolene an outstanding educator?

  1. She is remarkably attentive to students’ needs.
  2. She has a unique perspective.
  3. She is not afraid to listen to thoughts and opinions of her students—even if they do not parallel her own.
  4. She is very encouraging when it comes to pushing students to strive to be the best they can.
  5. She is extremely smart—not just in her knowledge, but in her ability to transmit this knowledge to students.

Jolene Daw, Faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University, is being recognized by Terrell Martin (Grand Canyon University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Jolene, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Anita Caref

On the heels of a crisis of direction in my career, I met Anita.

I had burnt out at my dream job and I moved to Chicago in a series of professional upheavals.

I was not sure if I was actually much good at teaching despite my passion for education. I had been at the City Colleges of Chicago for almost two years and was feeling frustrated with my work and my new city.

When Anita joined the adult education department at CCC, I quickly realized I had found a kindred spirit in education—a colleague and friend who would be that person that would anchor me to the work I wanted to do and to the kind of people I enjoy being around.

In this, as her personality and kindness are naturally inclined to do, she has never faltered. I have been grateful for knowing and connecting with Anita since we first shared disbelief about CCC adult education “curriculum”.

Besides supporting the teaching I wanted to do, she helped me hone my skills to do it.

Reading and observing other programs and classrooms through her connections, I learned so many of the things have brought me to that oft-elusive level in teaching of feeling truly competent in my work and my skills as an educator.

It is through Anita and her advocacy for progressive pedagogical approaches and a more wholistic education for the students at CCC, that I found hope in working at City Colleges and a belief that I could still do the work that I had spent the better part of my adolescence and adulthood deeply committed to doing.

For these gifts of professional confidence and personal warmth, friendship and colleagueship, I am forever grateful.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Anita an outstanding educator?

  1. Intelligence
  2. Support
  3. Warmth
  4. Kindness
  5. Determination

Anita Caref, Adult Education Language Arts Reading Specialist at City Colleges of Chicago, is being recognized by Daniel Stein.

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Anita, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Dr. Maryann Wilkey

I was 44 years old when I enrolled at Barton college to pursue an Elementary Education degree.

I was afraid and nervous, and I didn’t know if I had what it took—first to be a teacher and second to be a Barton Bulldog.

My first major education class was Assessments and Dr. Wilkey was the professor.

Many of the other students had taken classes with her before and knew the expectations. That first night my heart sank. She asked questions and it appeared to me that I was the only one she was calling on.

I went in the bathroom during break and cried. However, after a while, I realized I was being silly and came to my senses.

The remaining seven classes, I tried to learn everything I could from Dr. Wilkey because she saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. She pushed me and others to do better than good. Good was not good enough, but I did not have that mindset until I met Dr Wilkey.

I enjoyed her classes and couldn’t wait to see what we were going to do next. She had a way of motivating her students to strive for the next level.

Even still today, she is concerned about her students

I think to myself often, “What Would Jesus Do?” and then, “What Would Dr. Wilkey Do?”

She is truly an awesome teacher, citizen and friend.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Dr. Wilkey an outstanding educator?

  1. Motivator
  2. Intelligent
  3. Passionate
  4. Visionary
  5. Driven

Dr. Maryann Wilkey, Professor at Barton College, is being recognized by Marsha Foreman (Barton College).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Maryann, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Mary Hightshue

Mary has taught French at our high school for decades, and she has always done it in a high relationship, life changing kind of way.

This manifests daily via her interactions with students and through her leadership of a summer study-abroad program that Mary has coordinated for many years.

Mary is retiring in a few weeks, and though some folks retire every year, I have not found myself as emotional over the loss of other consummate teaching pros’ departures.

She IS the best of what Zionsville Community High School stands for.

She will be sorely missed and revered for her service to youth always.

What are characteristics or qualities that make Mary an outstanding educator?

  1. Wisdom skillfully imparted about the power of world language study to a student’s whole life.
  2. Interpersonal linkage with students at every level, novice through accomplished.

Mary Hightshue, Teacher at Zionsville Community High School, is being recognized by Scott Robison (Superintendent, Zionsville Community Schools).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Mary, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Helen O’Neill

Helen inspired me to become an urban special educator for students in behavior disabilities classrooms.

I have since moved into graduate research and am preparing to receive a doctorate from NYU in urban education, focusing on injustices in classification and service provision to students in behavior disabilities programs.

Helen served the city of Newark for more than 30 years teaching some of its most under-served students and loving every day of it.

She is an educational champion, an everyday social justice hero, an amazing positive role model, an indomitable spirit, and a valued mentor.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Helen an outstanding educator?

  1. Dedication to all students.
  2. Passion for serving students with emotional and behavioral challenges.
  3. Fierce advocate for student rights.
  4. Empathetic nature.
  5. Humility about her impact on students’ lives.

Helen O’Neill, Retired & Substitute Teacher, is being recognized by Evan Johnston (New York University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Helen, make a tax-deductible donation today.