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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The politics of redistribution and recognition : a retrospective case study of one inner-city school Waithman, Marilynne


This retrospective critical case study is directed toward educational leaders, practitioners, administrative bodies, and policy writers who work in partnership with government agencies and the public school system. The purpose of this original retrospective study is to explore three topics which influence students’ learning and academic achievement within the public education system in general and designated inner-city schools in particular … the application of integrated social-justice principles, adoption of school-choice and open-boundary policies, and the development of full-service year-round schooling. This study reports on the negative consequences of the implementation of school-choice and open-boundary policies upon an inner-city school and explores the structural and discursive strategies implemented to address these outcomes. The study is guided by the following research questions: How did various interests and ideologies inform the introduction of school-choice and open-boundary policies and how did they support or inhibit redistribution and recognition at the school? What was the impact of these policies? What were the limits and possibilities of various structural strategies, such as year-round schooling, that were implemented to mitigate the negative impact of school choice and open-boundary policies? What were the limits and possibilities of various discursive strategies, such as efforts to change the school’s reputation internally and externally, that were implemented to mitigate the negative impact of school choice and open-boundary policies? And finally, what recommendations can be made based on this case study, for a more socially just approach to open-boundary, school-choice, and public-education policy development? In answering these questions, this dissertation takes the reader through the successful implementation of structural and discursive strategies at one elementary school and concludes with recommendations for policy, practice, and future research relevant to public education. Recommendations include: the provision of social-justice education for all practitioners and administrators; the evaluation of the impact of proposed learning initiatives and policies through a social-justice framework prior to implementation; compensation for schools that experience negative repercussions from the implementation of choice policies; study into the relationship between time and learning including the implementation of full-service year-round schooling; and, differentiated hiring practice for schools with high-needs populations.

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