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Redlining in the Classroom: Teacher Complicity and Resistance in the Racialization of Space

Fri, April 17, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Swissotel, Event Centre First Level, Zurich C

Abstract

Purpose
This paper uses the concept of redlining to describe how teachers contribute to the racialization of space, effectively segregating their students of color within supposedly integrated classrooms. It also explains how CRSA can be used collaboratively with teachers. By learning to the see the redlines they draw around students of color, teachers can learn to erase them and create more integrated and just classrooms spaces.

Conceptual Framework
As described in the introduction to the symposium, the racialization of space is a process that justifies the divestment of resources away from non-white spaces (Calmore 1995; Mills 1997). Such divestment is largely carried out through redlining (Soja 2010). Originally referring to actual red lines drawn on maps, redlining now refers more broadly to any “lending (or insurance) discrimination that bases credit decisions on the location of a property to the exclusion of characteristics of the borrower or property” (Hillier 2003, 395). Redlining still occurs today (Chang & Smith 2008; Soja 2010). This paper extends the concept of redlining to explain how the racialization of space is used to divest resources away from individuals of color. It shows how teachers can be complicit in that process, how they in effect draw invisible redlines around their students of color, limiting the access and freedom those students have within the classroom.

Modes of Inquiry/Data Sources
The paper draws on two studies at elementary schools in suburban North Carolina. The first ran from 2009-2012. The second started in 2013 and is ongoing. Combined, there have been over 50 interviews, observations, and focus groups with about 20 teachers and administrators. Both studies have used CRSA in a dialogical ethnographic approach (Madison 2005, Conquergood 1985). This collaborative approach involves participants and researchers working together to identify and solve common issues. Specifically, the approach has helped the teachers and researcher work together to uncover and challenge the unintentional in-school segregation of students of color.

Results
In the first project, a group of 5th-grade teachers was able to actually resist the racialization of space in their classrooms. Their classrooms were more integrated spaces and they were able to reduce the racial achievement gap on end of grade tests. In the second project, the teachers and administrators have already identified how the school unintentionally recreates racialized spaces via standardized curricula and instructional practices. In the Fall semester of 2014, the school will begin implementing schoolwide protocol and accountability systems to help the teachers learn to resist redlining and create more fully integrated classrooms.

Scholarly Significance
Even when teachers want to be racially equitable, the rationalization of space can make them unintentionally complicit in segregating students of color. The racialization of space feeds teachers’ “dysconscious racism” (King 1991), a process by which teachers betray their own ability to be more equitable and just. Used in a dialogic approach, redlining can be a useful concept to help teachers “see” their complicity and better live up to their own social justice goals.

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