Merging the Imperatives of Social Justice and Accountability
The mission of the Institute is to foster research, action and attitudes that best promote excellence, equity and integrity in the transformation of schools and universities. We support efforts to develop schools and universities that are both more just and more accountable for student achievement in the broadest sense of the word and to support efforts to educate faculty, administrators and community members to effect such transformations. We are aware of the challenges to integrate accountability and justice because the strongest advocates of each, taken singly, tend to come from the right and the left political spectrums. We believe there is strong power in the uniting of these two imperatives in order to close the achievement gap and to improve achievement in schools and universities for all.
The Institute began in 1985 in order to provide a mechanism for research, dialog and action projects that would address critical issues in education from kindergarten to graduate school. Throughout its history, it has focused on equity beginning with projects that increased the teacher education candidates of color at CGU from 6% to over 50%.
This simple change fostered a new dialog in the program and thus a new curriculum. The Institute participated with seven districts for a number of years with the National Network for Educational Renewal and spent several years deeply immersed in mining the insights from critical theory and progressivism as alternatives to the liberal discourse of multiculturalism that had prevailed for so many years in universities and schools. During this time, we brought a number of guests to campus to help us engage the issues, including Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Stanley Aronowitz, David Purple, Svi Shapiro, Marilyn Frankenstein, Alma Flor Ada, Jim Cummins, John Ogbu, Steve Krashen, John Rivera, Russlyn Ali, Joseph Johnson, Larry Ainsworth, and others.
The Institute sponsored a large participatory research project with four schools (K-12) in 1991-1992. Funded by the John Kluge Foundation, we began the study from inside the classroom. Participants in the research included students, parents, staff members, teachers and administrators. University faculty and graduate students assisted the participants in efforts to define the central issues. The resultant report, Voices from the Inside: A Report on Schooling from Inside the Classroom is still available from the Institute on-line or by ordering the published document from the address below. From 2005-2008, we studied 33 high performing teachers in low performing schools. We were seeking to understand what teachers whose urban poor students make dramatic achievement gains are doing inside their classrooms. Though there are now many reports on schools that become high performing, few studies of teachers inside low performing schools exist. The teachers, chosen by achievement data over a two to three year period, ranged from 1st to 12th grade and were diverse in number of years in teaching, ethnicity, and age. That report, High Performing Teachers in Low Performing Schools, will also be available from the Institute in the fall of 2008.
The study was generously funded by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. The Institute has been funded by the John Kluge Foundation, the Hewlitt Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, City Corp Foundation, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.
The Institute’s Director is Professor Mary Poplin. The Director of Policy for the Institute is Dr. John Rivera.