This essay examines the activities and challenges encountered in a partnership between a faculty of education and a local school board in Toronto, Canada. The goal was to address concerns over a 40% drop-out rate amongst Black students in the Toronto District School Board.

Teachers were to identify areas of concern, and to use university resources to investigate and improve work with students. Initially, findings were disappointing, teachers often felt isolated working on their own, and some administrators perceived the project as disruptive to the overall running of the school.

Faculty came to the realization that to help support their own graduates they needed to shift priorities from research to providing opportunities for dialogue, and to acknowledge the positions and perspectives of a variety of participants in the system.

Author Biography

Sarah Elizabeth Barrett is an assistant professor on the Faculty of Education,York University, Toronto, where she teaches courses on cultural studies in science education, qualitative research methods and teaching high school science. She is the research coordinator for the School and Community Engaged Education Project. Her research interests include inclusive curriculum, teacher identity and teaching science for social justice.

Donna Ford is an elementary school principal on leave from the York Region District School Board. In her current work on the Faculty of Education, York University, Toronto, she is fulfilling a variety of roles. As course director, Donna teaches preservice candidates literacy instruction that embeds inclusive practices and a seminar series for preservice teachers in practicum placements. She serves as coordinator and school facilitator on the School and Community Engaged Education Project. Her graduate studies focus on school leadership, educational policy and reform pedagogy.

Carl E. James is the Director of the Centre for Education and Community in the Faculty of Education, York University, Toronto, where he also teaches courses on adolescents, urban education and foundations of education. His research interests include educational access and equity for marginalized youth; and issues of identity/identification in relation to race, ethnicity, class and masculinity.



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