Young People as Policy Actors: School Integration and Diversity Dilemmas in New York City
Alexandra Freidus

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



University of Connecticut

Primary Discipline

A growing body of research examines how administrators, educators, and families have shaped educational policies and practice related to school integration, school gentrification, and student diversity. In this project, I propose to closely examine the experiences and perceptions of the young people most impacted by these policies and practices. I ask: How can young people?s experiences as students and activists help us understand about what diversity can and cannot offer communities seeking greater educational justice? What ? and who ? is integration for? How can educational policies, practices, and pedagogies address both the costs and benefits of diversity? To answer these questions, I approach students as policy actors to understand how young New Yorkers navigate and resist racialized inequality in school and community settings. I will analyze ethnographic data related to a young people?s campaign for school integration. I will conduct longitudinal interviews with a sample of participants from this study. Finally, I will bring together my findings by developing a book project that examines the opportunities and limits that school diversity offers movements for educational justice.
About Alexandra Freidus
Alexandra Freidus is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut. An educational ethnographer, Alex uses sociocultural and critical race theory to ask what roles educators, policymakers, families, and young people play in sustaining and interrupting racialized patterns in K-12 schools. Using data collected through participant-observation, interviews, and public archives, she examines how community stakeholders conceptualize student diversity; how school and district administrators enact educational policy; and how these interlocking contexts relate to schools? central work ? teaching and learning. Recent research includes studies of diversifying schools in gentrifying neighborhoods and teen activists for school integration in New York City. Alex?s work has been funded by a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation dissertation fellowship and published in journals including American Educational Research Journal, Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly. Alex?s research and teaching are informed by thirteen years of experience as a high school teacher, professional development facilitator, and school reform support provider in the Bay Area and New York City. Alex earned her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning at New York University, her M.A. in Education from Mills College, and her B.A. in History from Brown University.

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