Promiscuous Analysis in Qualitative Research
Qualitative Inquiry 2014, Vol. 20(6) 819–826 © The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1077800414530266 qix.sagepub.com
Sara M. Childers1
Abstract This article troubles the seductive nature of coding based on its potential to fulfill the desires for systematicity, procedure, and clarity. I attempt to explicitly narrate what it is I think I do when I “analyze” data in my empirical work. Building on the notion of promiscuous feminist research, I delineate more explicitly how promiscuity became the hallmark of my inquiry while conducting research at a high-achieving, high-poverty urban school. I also discuss how materiality is entwined with theoretical thinking and explore how a promiscuous deployment of Foucaultian discourse analysis and Critical Race Theory (CRT) helped me to see how race works in schools in a more complicated way than if I had used one or the other framework loyally or prescriptively. Keywords promiscuous analysis, materiality, Critical Race Theory, Foucault In line with the charge of this special issue, this article dismisses the seduction of coding for the purposes of procedure, systematicity, and clarity and attempts to explicitly describe what it is I think I do when I promiscuously analyze data in my empirical work. I build off the notion of postcoding to first assert how due to the “vibrancy” (Bennett, 2010) of the material world, data analysis is inevitably postcoding, more than coding, and something other than coding, and second use the “posts” as a lens through which to think about how the analysis itself is formed of material practices that promiscuously disrupt prescriptive tendencies. Like Maclure (2013), I am interested in how such materiality can “irrupt into the space of analysis,” and how the physicality and affectivity of our experiences with the empirical are always already promiscuously entangled with theory. Building on the notion of promiscuous feminist research (Childers, 2013), I encourage researchers to use materiality to embrace an unruly approach to thinking about and engaging with empirical materials that is less interested in doing it “right” and more interested in flexing, breaking, and blurring theoretical and analytic boundaries as needed to respond to the field.
Faith, Fears, and Infidelities Reviewing a random selection of articles retrieved by using search terms such as “coding,” “qualitative coding,” “grounded theory coding,” and “qualitative data analysis,” I found a predictable set of analytic concerns. One author described error, mistakes, un-mindfulness, and bias as “terrifying” (Gilbert, 2002), placing faith in step-by-step
approaches to coding and/as analysis to rescue researchers from those perils. The very ideas and practices this special issue aims to trouble—prescription, steps, procedures, schemes, matrices, sequences, imposed structure, clarity, and maybe the biggest sin of all, counting—were proffered. Contrary to the desires for certainty, coding cannot save the researcher from the messiness and complexity of the material world. In spite of our attempts to contain it with procedure and prescription, the world’s “vibrancy” (Bennett, 2010), or its vitality and resistance to expectations, exceeds attempts to understand it. Coding, or any other systematic, a priori structural process of analysis, is a failed attempt to discipline a world that is uncontainable. Rather than turning to the assumed safety of prescription to tame it, paying attention to the materiality of our research engagements and using theory to think through them might be one way to face the fears of researching an unruly world. Promiscuity became the hallmark of the process I engaged in while conducting research at a high-achieving, high-poverty urban school. Releasing myself from the hegemony of analytic prescription, I used instead the “materiality of the field” (Childers, 2013) as a guiding force of inquiry. New feminist materialism1 explores materiality as human bodies, buildings, desks, books, spaces, policies, 1
Dublin, Ohio, USA
Corresponding Author: Sara M. Childers, independent scholar, 6241 Corley Drive, Dublin, Ohio 43016, USA. Email: [email protected]
820 theories, practices, and other animate and inanimate objects that demonstrate agential nature and undeniable affectivity and become an undeniable force in shaping inquiry. The material then carries equal weight with discursive constructions of research and, together, they mutually constitute the “matter” of fieldwork. Taking a cue from the world itself, messy, entangled, and elusive, I offer here a promiscuous data analysis, one that is wily and analytically unrestrained yet responsive and committed to the vibrancy of the world and participants as a way of approaching qualitative research, and open up other ways of thinking and doing.
Promiscuous Analysis The concept of promiscuous analysis that I use here was developed as part of a larger project on promiscuous feminisms that congealed into a special issue for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (Childers, Daza, & Rhee, 2013). “Promiscuity” is a racy, sexy, pejorative, and even punitive term most often used to describe women who step outside the boundaries of appropriate heterosexuality by engaging in sexual behavior that arouses suspicions about their virtue, purity, and femininity. Around 1600, “promiscuous” meant “mixed and indiscriminate,” but it was not recorded as referring to sexual relations until 1900 (Online Etymology Dictionary; see also Voithofer, in press). The use of the term promiscuous to describe analysis is not merely an attention-seeking oxymoron, although in this moment where “slut shaming” marks promiscuity, I do want to radically recapture the term. The sexism embedded in language is what makes the notion of promiscuous “feminists gone wild” tantalizing, but when I think of “promiscuous” women for example, I think of women who defy norms, boundaries, and the constraints of a heterosexist and masculinist gender system. I think about how defiance opens up a space for different living, and that such promiscuity is not indiscriminate but often quite deliberate. I am interested in the intentional and careful decision making that goes into promiscuous deployments of theory and analysis. I am also interested in how the material world itself is “promiscuous” in how it comingles and infiltrates our engagements forcing us to exceed the containment of our expectations for research. I offer here a retrospective (re)presentation of what was a nonlinear, sometimes tedious, sometimes joyful, always uncertain process of analysis that addressed constantly emerging methodological and ethical issues. Data analysis is often described as a second phase of qualitative research nested between data collection and writing; however, engaging in the rhizomatic and iterative nature of inquiry quickly disrupts such perceptions. Writing, thinking, and theorizing happen all at once and exceed the containment of phases, time, and space. I offer then the contours of promiscuous analysis rather than a linear account of how to do it.
Qualitative Inquiry 20(6)
Promiscuous Analysis Responds to the Materiality of the Field Analysis is affected by many things: the social/cultural/historical/material context of a project and its participants, theoretical frameworks, one’s understanding of the literature, familiarity with the field site, and the researcher’s personal background. Thus, analysis must respond to the pressing of context on the particular study. I conducted a 2-year ethnographic case study of Ohio Public High School (OPHS),2 a nationally ranked highachieving high-poverty urban3 school in Ohio. I carried out 9 consecutive months of classroom and school observations, interviews, and focus groups with 40 students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and documented analysis of federal and district educational policies, curriculum materials, school yearbooks, and newspaper and magazine articles. Analysis and writing occurred throughout the project, and I returned for member checks and to share my analysis. At the time of the study, OPHS had a 30-year history as an alternative school deeply invested in academic achievement and nationally recognized as a “breakthrough school,” “urban school of promise,” and school of “excellence.”4 The demographics of the student body at OPHS closely mimicked the demographics of others in the district; however, its high rate of academic achievement did not. For that reason, OPHS was acclaimed and continues to be recognized as an urban success story.5 Two years prior to the start of the study, I began the process of building relationships with parents and teachers as I learned more about this high-profile school. During informal conversations, they spoke at length about how they negotiated federal education policies mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and avoided what have been referred to in the literature as the constraining effects of NCLB.6 Based on this information, the initial goal of the study was to look at how this school re-appropriated and negotiated policy in ways that subverted its constraining effects to support the success and achievement of its students. However, when I began fieldwork, I became aware of a pattern of racially stratified course enrollment. Because the school placed equity at the forefront of its mission, I expected that the three curriculum tracks that comprised the exclusive college preparatory curriculum—Basic College Preparation, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB)—would roughly reflect the demographic makeup of the school (i.e., 62% of the students were African American). To the contrary, students were racially stratified across the three curriculums. Basic college-prep courses were perceived to be the least challenging and African American and other students of color were overrepresented in those courses. AP and IB were perceived
Childers as more challenging and served predominantly White students. The materiality of racial stratification interrupted claims of school success. Race was deeply entwined with practices that simultaneously propelled students toward graduation and college entrance while maintaining patterns of racial inequality and lack of access to educational opportunity.7 This pressing materiality irrupted the narratives of success that had been tightly woven into the school’s public identity. The stunning visibility of inequity forced me to change the direction of my research.
Promiscuous Analysis Is a Material Practice Analysis is ontological, made up of practices that respond to the materiality of the field as well as the materiality of working with the empirical materials produced during research. Data collected during the study produced more than 100 pages of typed field notes, 80 hr of interview and focus group transcripts, and a mountain of documents and policies. At this point, I had to determine how to manage “the data” (see, for example, Clarke, 2005; Glaser & Strauss, 1967/2006; Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009; Sutton & Levinson, 2001; Richardson, 2000; St. Pierre, 2000). As I reread these scholars’ suggestions and worked through the analysis, my approach to analysis became promiscuous. Grounded theory, situational analysis, pleated texts, rhizomatics, policy analysis, and discourse analysis were suggestions and flexible tools rather than recipes. I did not map the situation as dutifully as Clarke suggested, nor did I code data as grounded theorists recommend. Data management is not the same as data analysis, but there was a provocative and affective engagement produced through the physical handling of these materials. Field notes, transcripts, and documents never left my desk as I sorted and re-sorted them into piles, handling their materiality as I thought and wrote. I labeled, highlighted, underlined, inscribed marginalia, and wrote memos to help me think about the materiality of the field represented in the materials I produced as data. I moved data around, generated queries around “codes,” and re-arranged the piles to re-engage my memories of my field experiences. These material practices, pen to paper, hand moving to underline and write, “doing,” were a necessary part of my analytic practice. These materials were vibrant in that they brought me back to thinking–feeling the materiality of fieldwork. Classrooms distinctly filled with Black or White bodies, students who worked full-time jobs yawning warm breath, cold drafts from windows, peeling paint, falling ceilings, classrooms jammed with desks, me jammed into a desk between students too close for comfort, the worn looks of teachers after a long day, a boy biting his nails to the quick, students eating donuts as we talked about their lives—these material data leached the surface of conventional analytic
practice. The material vibrancy of fieldwork continued to “irrupt into the space of analysis” even when I was no longer in the field and provoked an affective re-engagement. The physicality and affectivity of those experiences with the empirical remained promiscuously entangled with analysis. One might say that what I did looks like the very coding critiqued in this issue; however, I eschewed prescription in favor of finding a way to get “in touch” with the materials physically, affectively, and inquisitively. This promiscuous physicality allowed me to become body– mind entangled. I began first with the practices described above, because they triggered memories and sparked and propelled my thinking. In a way, I was doubly promiscuous, engaging in conventions that might be the very source of analytic containment, yet breaking that containment by (mis)appropriating them. The promiscuous materiality of analysis came alive through this affective engagement that provided a way to (re)engage the bodily and affective conditions of research. Those material practices, however, were simultaneously infiltrated by theory; thinking and doing were constitutive and could not be separated. In the next section, I discuss how analysis became the interstitial space, the place where materiality meets “thinking with data and theory” (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012).
Analysis Is the Promiscuous Engagement of Materiality, Theory, and Data I allowed the materiality of the field to guide my emergent project. OPHS was designated by the district as an “urban”8 school, and urban had material meaning—a school that was physically falling apart, located in an undesirable urban neighborhood, and filled with low-income students of color, mostly African American, who came from other undesirable neighborhoods in the city. “Urban” education has racial and socioeconomic meaning in the United States. Although the generic term urban education is most often used, race and class function in meaningful ways within and through the bodies of its students. Urban students, their raced and classed bodies, have been historically and socially coded by the language of risk, disadvantage, and deprivation. The notion of urban capitalizes on and solidifies historic and racialized narratives of the always failing, culturally deprived student of color, and due to the historical context of segregation in the United States, more specifically the African American student. It excludes the history of successful African American education, the systemic failures of integration, and the implications of these failures for urban education today. Deficit and lack have been historically “tattooed” (Fine & Ruglis, 2009) onto the bodies of African American students. Their bodies bear the invisible marks of this history.
822 Deficit discourses permeated talk about this school and mingled with its materiality. Newspaper articles rang with praise as the school received numerous awards for transforming “urban” students, where the term urban capitalized on deficit notions of urban student identity. What moved my practice was students’, teachers’, and parents’ material engagements with school inequality and the policies that produced and maintained such inequality. Their bodies mattered in the discursive constructions of urban identity, and the discursive materiality of what it meant to be an urban student, parent, or teacher at the school had an ontological impact, or affectivity, on my analysis. Elizabeth Wilson (Kirby & Wilson, 2011) defined affectivity as “the capacity to move and be moved—a more general capacity, intensity, or virtuality that animates matter as such” (p. 228). Fieldwork is an affective event where the materiality of the field rises up to meet the researcher, rubs up against her, and pushes back on interpretations. Each time I walked into the school, I was bombarded by its materiality. Students jostled past me in crowded hallways between classes; the smell of greasy unappetizing lunches wafted over me as I observed in the lunchroom; I felt the cold draft in the winter and the stifling heat in the summer. However, I was most affected by how students’ raced bodies were rocked by inequity, and how that materiality had the capacity to move my practice. I was committed to a poststructural approach, because it aligned with how I thought about the world as partial, situated, and shot through with power and difference. I initially planned to analyze the data using Foucault’s (1977, 1972/1980, 1990) theories of power/knowledge and discourse, because they were best suited to my original plan to think about school practices as subversions and negotiations of educational policy. However, those theories alone were not enough to respond to the students’ material experiences of inequality that pressed on me with intensity and demanded both deconstruction and something more. In a special issue of Race Ethnicity and Education (Leonardo, 2007), contributors argued that NCLB policy in and of itself is a racial project, not merely a set of policies aimed at closing the achievement gap but policies heavily invested in the larger racial system of the United States. The editor boldly asserted, Overtly, it implicates improvements for students of color in its four targeted subgroups. Implicitly, NCLB is part of a racial project since it is enacted within a racialized nation-state. As part of the racialized state apparatuses, schools bear the markings and carry the anxieties of US race relations. (Leonardo, 2007, p. 241)
Researchers in this special issue argued that NCLB ignores the structural inequalities of the education system perpetuated in and through the racial system of the United
Qualitative Inquiry 20(6) States. Furthermore, Tyack (1993) argued two decades ago that “. . . policy talk about questions of diversity in education today often ignores a long history of the social and political constructions of difference in American society and public schools” (p. 8). My training in qualitative inquiry focused a great deal on the crisis of representation and the potential violences of research. The complications of “writing culture” (Clifford & Marcus, 1986), “racing research and researching race” (Twine & Warren, 2000), and complex critiques of White research and poststructuralism made by feminists of color such as Collins (1990), Anzaldúa (1987/1999), hooks (1981), and many others forced me to consider the insufficiency and potential violence of using only Foucaultian theory to try to address the materiality of African American students’ lives. The racial stratification of enrollment at OPHS was not an effect of pure discourse. It was also a materiality sustained by and sustaining long-term historical and social structural inequalities based on race in the United States. It had material effects on students’ ability to access advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses that could offset college expenses and time-to-degree on entering postsecondary education. I needed to be accountable methodologically to directly addressing the “real” racial inequalities and far reaching implications experienced by students. I thought that Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) was ethically necessary for my analysis, because it explicitly names and defines practices of racism and White privilege. Ladson-Billings and Tate argued that although race is deeply implicated in U.S. society and its educational system, it remains under-theorized in educational research. They offered three propositions from which analysis of social inequity using CRT in education might proceed: (a) Race continues to be a significant factor in determining inequity in the United States, (b) U.S. society is based on property rights, and (c) the intersection of race and property creates an analytic tool through which we can understand social and, consequently, school inequity. This critique remained at the forefront of my thinking during analysis, and it compelled me to approach my analysis in a way that was accountable theoretically and materially to racialized practices of schooling. CRT, however, has a tendency to solidify and fix race/ class identity as a rigid reality, and I found that it hindered my ability to discuss how participants simultaneously negotiated, resisted, and appropriated deficit notions of urban identity. What I found was that I was using both frameworks simultaneously when thinking about my data. I promiscuously put them into direct conversation in a complex engagement that allowed me to conduct an analysis that was more productive and useful than if I had used either framework on its own. Next, I attempt to demonstrate a
Childers promiscuous analysis of the data through the lenses of CRT and Foucault. During fieldwork, the use of deficit language and practices in relation to urban students permeated not only parents’, teachers’, and administrators’ but also students’ conversations. CRT helped me to see and analyze how deficit thinking has historically been attached to the bodies of African American students. The Coleman Report (1966), the infamous Moynihan Report (1965), and Oscar Lewis’s (1959) culture of poverty research introduced terminology such as cultural deprivation and cultural disadvantage. In the 1980s, the terms at-risk and underprivileged were introduced to explain the low achievement of African American and other students of color in relationship to the relative higher achievement of White students in the United States. Although the NCLB itself uses terms such as disadvantaged and minority to refer broadly to both race and class, understanding the mechanics of deficit thinking makes clear that these terms are most often de-raced “euphemisms for the black child” (Ravitch, 1983, p. 150). Because of my engagement with the work of Foucault, I saw the words and actions of my participants as evidence of how deficit thinking is produced in and through deeply historical discourses that permeate the material practices and material bodies of urban education. Tracing the circulation of these discourses helped me to disrupt the taken-forgranted deficit notions ascribed to urban students. Foucault (1977) theorized of the relationship between power and knowledge as one where . . . (p)ower produces knowledge; . . . that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations. (p. 27)
I saw those discourses as socially manufactured networks of power/knowledge through which urban students were both discursively and materially produced as racialized symbols of deficit and lack. In my study, they served as a grid of intelligibility through which teachers, parents, and administrators read each student’s potential for achievement through their raced and classed bodies. These deficit discourses had a ghostly yet affective quality; I saw and felt their weight everywhere in the silences, practices, and materialities of students’ lives, moving me to analyze how they produced the racialized course enrollments practices that plagued the school. Seeing the segregated classrooms with my own eyes and hearing students describe their experiences impelled me to think about the real toll of discourse on the bodies and minds of African American students. For example, teachers and counselors emphasized the rigor of the AP courses over the academic benefits, and that practice intertwined with deficit
823 expectations for urban students. The college-prep students whom I interviewed, again who were Black and from lowincome families, shared that they felt counseled away and counseled out of AP and IB courses, because they thought teachers and counselors felt they were not “smart enough” to take the courses. The applications students had to complete to enroll in the AP and IB courses were similarly permeated with exclusionary language that “raced” and “classed” the courses and dissuaded students of color from applying. CRT was helpful in this regard because it privileged understanding race as both structural inequality and historical materiality. At the same time, I struggled with how White teachers who identified themselves as anti-racist and dedicated to educational equity seemed unaware of their complicity in the racialization of their courses. I used this Foucault’s (1990) notion of power/knowledge as “everywhere . . . unbalanced, heterogeneous, unstable, and tense . . . ” (p. 93) to think about the negotiation of how even teachers with the best intentions were constrained within power/knowledge relations. When I raised the course enrollment issue with teachers, administrators, and parents, they pointed out that there were some Black students in those courses. For them, even a few Black bodies deflected charges of the internal segregation so visible in the classrooms. One administrator preferred to explain the segregation through a discourse of individual student choice, saying that students chose classes based on personal preferences and goals. He claimed that some students wanted the intellectual challenge and others did not. Race, I was told, had nothing to do with it. It was coincidental that White students chose upper level courses, but reading participants’ words through both CRT and Foucault identified the structural practices of racism that excluded Black students from courses imbued with privilege. Some teachers spoke openly with me about how they tried to increase the numbers of students of color in their advanced classes. In spite of their best intentions, however, their talk and practices were permeated with deficit notions of urban student identity. A teacher I admired for his progressive politics and dedication to students spoke of a previous AP teacher whose concern with test scores limited the number of students she would enroll in the course. His explanation situated her practices as racist: “Her class was never bigger than eight people. It’s hard to justify having a year-long class with eight people and almost solidly white.” Reading his words through CRT, he implied that racism affected who she allowed in her courses. I can infer that the enrollment of White students in her class was constrained by the deficit discourses that circulated in and through the bodies of African American students. In contrast, when he spoke about his own attempts to recruit more African American students into the AP program, it became abundantly clear how deficit discourses also fed his own wellintentioned practices:
824 So I felt like that in order to keep the class, and because of my own feelings about, umm, equity, I went out and recruited African American kids to take it who wouldn’t have taken it otherwise unless I went and invited them in, and some White kids too, and a couple of Asian American kids who knew me . . . So they might not ordinarily take it, but I’ll talk them into doing it, not only because I think they would benefit from it, (but) I am not worried about their test scores.
CRT helped me to think about contradiction and complexity when deficit discourses of urban student identity that kept African American students out of the predominantly White AP classrooms were also used to enroll students in those courses when the AP program was threatened by low enrollment. Bell (1995) called this interest convergence. Without CRT, it might be easy to read the teacher’s recruitment strategy as positive, because he overlooks “the deficits” of African American students so they can benefit from the AP program. However, reading this data only through the CRT concept of interest convergence overlooks how discourse constrains and produces such practices. Promiscuously reading the data with the concept of interest convergence and with Foucault helped me see how deficit discourses were power/knowledge networks and discursive practices with a range of effects, both productive and dangerous. It helped me to see how teachers themselves were constrained by the very deficit discourses they worked against. Working this line of analysis, threading the data through CRT and Foucault simultaneously, made this analysis possible. Promiscuously analyzing data through CRT and Foucaultian theories of discourse and power/knowledge helped me produce a richer analysis and simultaneously allowed me to recognize the limits of their use. I valued the critiques of both poststructuralism and CRT and promiscuously read the data through the critiques as well as the theories as I struggled with the messy materiality of teaching and learning.
Promiscuous Implications A promiscuous analysis has the potential to disrupt the hegemony of systematicity and overcoded conventions often associated with coding in qualitative research. A faith in preordained analytic procedures serves to reign in researchers who seek other ways of knowing and doing. Fears of getting it wrong similarly attempt to discipline the risky, unruly, and uncontained possibilities of knowledge production. Promiscuity is ontological, a way of being in which the world vibrantly resists understanding even as it is forever entangled in our inquiries. The promiscuity I describe in this article makes room for material engagements with the empirical world that collapse time–space as I stay “in touch” with the data committing infidelities as I
Qualitative Inquiry 20(6) shuffle, label, highlight, write on, and revisit data, remembering through my body–mind. Responding to such vibrancy, promiscuous analysis is not predetermined but rather emerges in relation to the field and participants. Promiscuous analysis requires a certain level of risk and willingness to compromise. If I place my faith in anything, it is in the inherent messiness of the world and its ability to shake me up within its contradictions, for it is this quality of unruly vibrancy that makes living and thinking worth doing. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Notes 1. For an overview of new feminist materialism, see Hekman (2010) and Jackson and Mazzei (2012). 2. All names are pseudonyms assigned by the researcher to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of study participants. 3. Ohio Public High School (OPHS) is designated an urban school within a Major Urban District by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). It is predominantly African American with a fluctuating percentage of students (as high as 90% in some years) receiving free and reduced lunch. 4. To preserve the identity of OPHS, citations for these recognitions are not included in the bibliography, nor is the school website provided for reference. 5. More than 65% of the students at OPHS are African American, 2.5% Hispanic, and 2% Asian or Pacific Islander, but 98.5% of OPHS students graduated in 2007 as compared with 73.9% of students in the district. According to the school website, 96% of its 2007 graduates attended 2- or 4-year colleges and earned nearly $7 million in scholarships to 50 schools, including top ivy-league institutions. 6. Bizarre ironies, paradoxes, and contradictions characterize the current state of U.S. education under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Testing culture promotes a narrowed curriculum, focused on low-level skills and high-stakes test “training.” Rich critical inquiry and maximum potential have been replaced with rote memorization and minimum expectations governed by the testing regime that undermines teachers, students, and schools. Testing and accountability provide strong incentives to exclude or ignore low-performing students and have led to an increase, rather than decrease, in the dropout rate. Schools that serve the most disadvantaged students lose access to funding when they fail to improve or meet targets. This “diversity penalty” encourages them to push out, keep out, or drop out low-scoring students. Some of the neediest students, such as English language learners and special needs students, are held to
Childers inappropriate standards and expectations, and they simultaneously suffer from a lack of appropriate support to make academic progress, leading to increased dropping out. Public shaming, intimidation, and punishment experienced through the labeling of failing schools and the resulting reduction in funding and incentives to these needy programs not only demoralize the teachers themselves but also reduce ability of schools and districts to attract and retain high-quality educators, another intended goal of the bill (Darling-Hammond, 2007; Gay, 2007; Hursh, 2007). 7. Elsewhere (see Childers, 2011, 2012, and 2013), I have discussed the severe ethical implications for sustaining an unproblematic urban identity in educational research as much research has, and I have argued that theorizing methodological practices and data analysis can serve as points of intervention. I have also written about how my Whiteness was interrogated and negotiated. I have also utilized “diffractive” readings of the data with multiple theoretical frameworks to work the contingencies and disruptions in the (re)presentation of the research (Childers, 2011). 8. OPHS is designated by the ODE as a high-achieving, highpoverty urban school located in a Major Urban District. It has been recognized each year as an Urban School of Promise by ODE since 2004.
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Author Biography Sara M. Childers, PhD, is an assistant professor of qualitative research in the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling in the College of Education at the University of Alabama. She received her doctorate in social and cultural foundations of education from Ohio State University. Her research focuses on qualitative methodologies, including ethnography, sociocultural policy analysis, feminist and poststructural theories, and urban education.