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Intentional Excellence

The Pedagogy, Power, and Politics of Excellence in Latina/o Schools and Communities


Louie F. Rodríguez

Are we bold enough to recognize our own excellence in our schools and communities? This question drives Intentional Excellence, an audacious attempt at developing a Pedagogy of Excellence in Latina/o schools and communities as a result of observations, insights, and lessons learned from work with schools and communities across the United States. Louie F. Rodríguez argues that while there is no shortage of excellence in some of the schools and communities that struggle the most, there is a pedagogical void, or an Excellence Paradox, that has disallowed excellence from being used as a potential tool to transform the culture of education. This book offers an additive framework for committed stakeholders and outlines six key observations including the contagious nature of excellence, excellence as a responsibility, the political viability of excellence, the additive possibilities of excellence, the role of excellence as a curricular and pedagogical tool, and the role of excellence in working toward equity and social justice in education. Rodríguez discusses a series of case studies that have used Excellence Campaigns to organize, define, and recognize their own excellence. The book also discusses the possibilities of excellence beyond education and proposes a new role in education to make excellence happen: Excellence Engineers. The book concludes with a theory of action that is necessary for excellence to thrive in the twenty-first century. Our children and communities deserve to see themselves as «models of excellence» and this book proposes a pedagogy to help get us there.
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Chapter 6. Time for a New Role: Excellence Engineers


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“I am ready to act, if I can find brave men [and women] to help me.”

—Carter Woodson

As a close observer of public schools and school reform trends over the last decade, I have made one, what seems to me (among many others), clear observation. While endless peer-review journal articles, discipline-based magazines, and specialized conferences have focused on the expected critiques, best practices, or meta-analyses of school restructuring, teacher quality, curriculum development, standards, assessment, school leadership; and perhaps even more critical and visionary perspectives such as hip-hop and education, critical literacy, youth and community organizing, and participatory action research, from what I have seen, few, if any, have entertained the possibility of envisioning a new role/position/job in our public schools.

Let us consider technology in schools for a second. I find it interesting that given the rapid development, use, and reliance on technology in our lives in general and in schools and universities specifically, there seems to be an absence of specialized people who can help facilitate the use and effectiveness of these technologies. For instance, many districts are using iPads in the classroom. I have seen training-upon-training for teachers and other people who directly work with students. However, I have yet to see a technology-liaison-type ← 111 | 112 → person that travels across schools and classroom to highlight best practices or inspire school leadership to create institutional norms and practices that perpetuate these best practices. So, while there are...

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