In a recent article, a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.(NAACP) has filed a lawsuit against the Antioch Unified School District. The lawsuit assert that the school district has reneged on an agreement that would help to evaluate any alleged racial disciplinary disparities for African American students. The Antioch Unified School District would benefit from a case study that will focus on improving teacher-student classroom relationships.
According to the article, NAACP lawsuit alleges Antioch Unified violated school discipline agreement, the local NAACP filed a lawsuit alleging that the district has undermined a previous agreement to improve school discipline challenges. The lawsuit asks the Contra Costa County Superior Court to compel the Antioch Unified School District to honor an agreement to allow outside specialists to examine the persistent quantity of disproportional number of African-American students who are suspended or expelled.
The challenges that the NAACP desires to be examined include why and when African-American students are expelled or suspended, whether the district has provided African-American students with sufficient special education services, and how a staff that is predominantly White might be trained to deal with potential racial bias in a district where nearly 80 percent of students are of Latino, African-American, Asian or other minority heritage.
Why should the Antioch Unified School District use a case study to examine the African American suspension rate?
A case study provides opportunities to evaluate bounded systems. A system bounded by time and space is considered an bounded system. Case study research provides an in-depth analysis and detailed description of a bounded system. Case studies provide researchers the opportunity to record espoused theories in use derived from responses that reflect conscious values and beliefs. A case study will provide the information necessary to develop the change process needed to overcome the racial challenges faced by the Antioch Unified School District historically underserved students.
A case study method provides an opportunity to develop trust. Required trust between management and employee increases with initiatives that require people to make personal and systemic change. If a trust gap develops, then the person advocating the initiative will have credibility reduction, which makes people feel at risk. Leaders build trust by developing credibility with staff. People accept the influence of leaders they trust. Trust is the key to systemic change.
What other types of evaluation techniques should the Antioch Unified School District use to examine the African American suspension rate?
Interviews are used to collect qualitative data. Interviews will provide the researcher with a real-life data collection process to assist the researcher with a case study. Interviews provide researchers with information for academic analysis. Interviews are either structured and unstructured. In structured interviews, all interviewees receive the same set of questions in the same order, and then the responses are coded according to some pre-established scheme. Unstructured interviews are open-ended. Interviews provide researchers with a method to develop detailed holistic descriptions and processes that integrate multiple perspectives by reporting interrelated behaviors and events that bridge intersubjectives for reporting research as an insider and identifying and framing hypothesis for quantitative research.
Next, tape-recorded interviews will benefit the research process. Recording interviews provides the researcher the opportunity to transcribe interviewees’ responses verbatim. Each interviewee should sign a consent form before the interview. The researcher should also use an interview guide that provides the researcher with guiding questions for the interview. Interview guides ensure the interviewer carefully decides how best to use limited time available in an interview.
Interview questions should parallel the first four Ladder of Inference rungs, which Argyris (1990) developed and Senge et al. (2000) expanded. Senge et al. (2000) expanded the Ladder of Inference to include:
- Observable data and experiences
- Selected data from observations
- Added cultural and personal meanings
- Assumptions made about cultural and personal beliefs
- Adopted beliefs
- Actions taken based on those beliefs
After transcribing the interviews, the researcher should return transcribed interview copies to each interviewee to verify the transcriptions and increase validity by member checking. Member checking involves sharing interview transcriptions with research participants to make sure the researcher represents them and their ideas.
Next, the researcher should conduct focus group interviews. Focus group interviews are guided or unguided discussions regarding a specific topic of interest to a set of people and the researcher. Focus group discussions can include collecting data in a one-shot setting and facilitating collective brainstorming to solve problems. Focus group interviews enable a researcher to collect large quantities of data in a short time period, resulting in powerful insights that are not available with individual interviews. Focus group interviews were a primary vehicle for collecting data from participating staff during this study.
Finally, Systems Thinking is a theoretical framework that will help to evaluate present conditions at the Antioch Unified School District. Systems Thinking is the study of a system’s structure and behavior (Senge et al., 2000). Systems’ structure and behavior are easy to see when the causes and effects are close enough to see. However, complex systems have causal and effect loops that are far removed and difficult to analyze. Senge et al. (2000) recommend analyzing a system by evaluating events, patterns and trends, systemic structure, and mental models. Systems Thinking will provide an assessment process that deciphers information needed to develop change processes that could eliminate the alleged racism at the Antioch Unified School District.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President