Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stephen Gould

Second Advisor

Nafisa Tanjeem

Third Advisor

Wayne Au


Corporate education reformers say they want excellent education for all students, yet scholars have documented the failure of corporate, neoliberal education reform. Educational organizing offers a powerful alternative to education reform. The purpose of this study was to understand how teachers in a community-based coalition made up of workers, educators, students, parents, guardians, grandparents, elected officials, and community leaders organized for equitable, systemic school change. This critical, feminist, activist ethnographic study included six participants and involved field observations, formal and informal interviews, and artifacts collected over six months. The instruments used to collect data were a demographic survey, a field observation tool, and interview questions. Guiding Research Questions included: (a) What experiences do K-12 teachers believe engender their critical consciousness? (b) What are the various ways K-12 teachers report they organize and were observed organizing for equitable systemic change? (c) What factors and conditions do K-12 teachers believe inhibit and promote the intentional dismantling of negative power relations? Coding methods combined Descriptive Coding, Values Coding, and Emotion Coding. Six themes emerged and informed the Guiding Research Questions. Findings from question one indicated that the development of critical consciousness consisted of three components: personal experiences of oppression, education on systems of oppression, and activism and organizing to dismantle systems of oppression. Findings from question two indicated that educator-activists of the coalition organized with a Freirean toolkit for racial and economic justice. Findings from question three indicated that there were numerous conditions and factors that inhibited and promoted educator-activism and organizing for equitable systemic change. As a result of this study, there is greater insight into the development of critical consciousness in teachers as well as factors and conditions that inhibit and promote educator-activism and organizing. Additionally, the coalition’s culture (leadership philosophy, organizational structure, and organizing process) provides a framework for other educational organizing groups aiming to transform schools and society.



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