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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Twenty-Five: Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children (1994)


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Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children (1994)

J.B. Mayo, Jr.

Gloria Ladson-Billings (born 1947) received her K–12 education in the Philadelphia public school system. Remembering her early days in school, Ladson-Billings describes a setting where “everyone there was black,” where “several of [her] classmates were children [she] knew from [her] neighborhood,” and where “school…was safe and clean, with people who cared about you, a lot like home” (Ladson-Billings, 1994, pp. 3–4). In sharp contrast to her elementary school years, Ladson-Billings attended “integrated” junior high and high schools characterized by competition and tracked classes, where there were only a handful of African American students, none of whom she knew (p. 12). After high school, Ladson-Billings attended Morgan State University, a historically Black college in Baltimore, where she received a B.A. degree in education in 1968. For 10 years (from 1968 to 1978), Ladson-Billings taught and served as a supervisor in the Philadelphia Public Schools, along the way obtaining an M.A. (1972) in education from the University of Washington. She earned her Ph.D. (1984) in curriculum and teacher education from Stanford University. In 1989 the National Academy of Education’s Spencer Foundation awarded Ladson-Billings a post-doctoral fellowship that funded the research that led to The Dreamkeepers. The research was conducted over the course of 3 consecutive school years: 1988–1989, 1989–1990, and 1990–1991. The Dreamkeepers is based on Ladson-Billings’s observations, conversations,...

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