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Critical Race Feminism and the Complex Challenges of Educational Reform

Abstract

Throughout the past several decades, there has been an abundance of research about school reform, particularly in schools predominated by students of color and students experiencing poverty. Critics acknowledge that many reform efforts have failed and comprehensive solutions to school change remain elusive. In this article, we provide an overview of prominent school reform efforts and describe some of the ideological problems inherent in these dominant approaches—particularly the abstract, one-size-fits-all vision of reform that they are premised upon. Then, we explore the potential of critical race feminism (CRF) as a framework through which we might cultivate transformative social justice-oriented change in schools. We suggest that CRF is a relatively untapped resource in school reform efforts that may help us to rethink reform in general, specifically by dislodging some of our taken-for-granted assumptions and offering us principles for school change. Finally, we give examples of counternarratives based on CRF principles that reflect the kind of critical, fluid, nonhierarchical approach to change needed to disrupt the status quo of inequitable, reproductive schooling.

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Correspondence to Cherese D. Childers-McKee.

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Childers-McKee, C.D., Hytten, K. Critical Race Feminism and the Complex Challenges of Educational Reform. Urban Rev 47, 393–412 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0323-z

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Keywords

  • Critical race feminism
  • School reform
  • Social justice
  • Turnaround
  • School policy