The Pedagogy, Power, and Politics of Excellence in Latina/o Schools and Communities
Part III: Towards Creativity, Action, and Sustainability
· 5 · implications for regional improvement: reflections on the role of excellence beyond education “The road will be long and tough, but together we can do it” —José Carlos Mariátegui, Peruvian philosopher. While in graduate school at Harvard I was mentored by Dr. Pedro Noguera, a sociologist and expert in urban education. I served as his teaching fellow for a course on race and equity issues in education, lead research assistant for a major National Science Foundation project, and as his dissertation advisee. Dr. Noguera’s work argues that schools are a function of their social, economic, and political context. That is, while there are endless reform efforts aimed at tweaking the educational system, very few actually attempt to transform the social and cultural conditions of the communities surrounding struggling schools, which is what needs to happen, according to Dr. Noguera. In other words, neighborhood inequality, unemployment, community violence, health issues, racial tensions, environmental conditions, and many other factors will directly impact the quality of education children receive in the local schools. Naturally informing my personal, political, and intellectual perspectives as a student under his tutelage, I began my dissertation work in an effort to 102 intentional excellence connect schools and communities, make an impact in education, and eventu- ally find ways to simultaneously improve schools and communities together. While my dissertation work was a quest to transform urban high schools, par- ticularly for low- income Black and Latina/o students across the country, I have always had my eye on the...
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