Unequal Work in Unequal Schools: Working in New York City Middle Schools in an Era of Accountability
Johanna Quinn

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Public grading of teachers and schools govern the United States’ K-12 school system, creating an environment of high-stakes accountability and continual testing and evaluation. Told from the perspective of New York City public school workers in two case study middle schools, Johanna Quinn’s dissertation examines how race, class, and gender shape the work, experiences, and rewards of employees in the nation’s largest school system. While a wealth of research examines schools’ role in reproducing social inequality among students, her study turns to the adult workforce, that integrally constitutes the educational environment, bringing in a fuller array of school employees, from school aides and custodians to teachers and principals. Her study brings to the forefront the labor and contributions of women of color, who primarily occupy instructional-support positions and who are often left out of accounts of schools. Johanna’s dissertation builds on education scholarship on school organizations and feminist literature on labor to demonstrate how schools reproduce inequalities among school workers and to outline organizational practices that support and hinder school workplace diversity.
About Johanna Quinn
Johanna Quinn is doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores public K-12 schools in an era of increased federal oversight and intervention in schools. She focuses on the full array of school employees, from custodians and paraprofessionals to teachers and principals. Her research documents school employees’ daily work experiences to understand schools as a site of labor that reproduce race, class, and gender inequalities. Johanna holds a BA in Psychology from Columbia University, an MS in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has taught in New York public schools. She is a founding member of Baychester Middle School and is inspired to research, write, and teach about the ways that race, class, and gender intersect in people’s lived experiences.

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