Convergent Paths

Equity & Opportunity through Education in the United States & South Africa

Kendra L. Hearn, Ph.D.
Fulbright Hays Seminar Abroad in South Africa 2008 Curriculum Project Abstract and Description

Project Title Convergent Paths: Creating Equity and Opportunity through Education in the United States and South Africa About the Project Principal Kendra Hearn, Ph.D. is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction for the West Bloomfield School District in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan Her doctoral dissertation, “Artifacts of Thought: Evidence of (93), and her M.A. in Education Administration from the University of Detroit Mercy (95). Metacognition in Twelfth Grade Students’ Reflective Writing, led to the completion of her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Wayne State University in 2005. She taught English Language Arts in the Detroit Public Schools (9496) and at West Bloomfield High School (96-2001). During her tenure as a teacher, she developed a Multicultural Literature Course and taught for MIT’s Concord Consortium Virtual High School. Along her career path, she has served as a Professional Development Consultant and Director of Curriculum, and has written a comprehensive English Language Art Curriculum for the Henry Ford Academy. She is an acclaimed educator, having earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification (98) and a Milken National Educator Award (99). She resides in Detroit, Michigan with her husband, Donald; and sons, Donny and Dylan. Project website Project Abstract The educational histories of the United States and South Africa as impacted by issues of race and segregation are clearly similar. This project will explore the policies, teaching and learning philosophies, pedagogies, and programmatic initiatives adopted by the country of South Africa, its respective provinces and their schools to create equitable and accessible learning opportunities for students of all races in their post-apartheid era.
Project Description : Convergent Paths 1

Comparisons will be drawn to the same initiatives taken on by the United States in its post-civil rights era. The project will seek to investigate how South Africa may have learned from the Unites States’ initiatives (e.g. desegregation education, through – bussing, data mandatory integration, by subgroup, compulsory vocational NCLB disaggregation

education/Perkins, college readiness and support programs, etc.), what approaches they may have purposefully avoided and new ones they may have developed that the U.S. and/or its schools may be able to adopt. The project findings will be shared in multimedia formats, including published papers, blogs, and digital stories. teaching of literacy. Project Narrative Convergent Paths seeks to uncover how and why separation and inequality in schooling persist in both the United States and South Africa using the following inquiry questions as a guide: • • •

Particular focus will be paid to the

Have the people of South Africa found solutions to their racial and economic divides, particularly as it pertains to education that we in America have yet to discover? In what ways are educators of South Africa attempting to mitigate the opportunity gaps that result in performance and achievement gaps along racial and socio-economic lines? Do Black and White children attend and succeed in school together? If so, what characterizes their coexistence and success? What is the epistemological stance of classroom educators and administrators to issues of equity and access to disadvantaged youth? How are their philosophies employed in their daily practice, school structures, programs, and policies?

The framework for my observations is based on seminal documents, policies, and laws of both countries, including the U.S. Constitution and Brown v Board of Education, as well as the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, widely regarded as one of the most progressive and radical. Its

Project Description : Convergent Paths


accompanying action plan emphasized the importance of education by stating, “Everyone has the right: (a) to a basic education, including adult basic education; and (b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.” This project seeks to identify those reasonable measures and how they have been made available and accessible progressively. It will embark to discover which parts of the action plan have come into fruition and what remains to be realized. All the while, comparisons to the United States’ approaches to attempt to create the same type of equity and access will be drawn. Findings from this project will be published in a variety of media, including blogs, published papers, and digital stories. These media will help to bring back to the students, teachers, administrators, elected officials, parents and community members within my circle of influence:

• •

strategies to improve critical (higher order thinking), traditional (reading/writing) and new (technological) literacies among students, especially boys who seem to lag behind our female students in reading and writing and our ESL population as compared to our native-born population. programs or initiatives to increase equity and inclusion between the racial and socio-economic groups in our schools and larger school community; descriptors of effective instructional strategies, policies, or school structures that are more culturally relevant and responsive, as well as more engaging to learners with a variety of learning needs; characterizations of schools that are racially diverse with critical attributes of their success for emulation; systemic approaches to increase participation of boys, ethnic minority, poor, and language learning students in paths of study toward college readiness and/or high-skilled work and technology-related paths; and a general awareness and appreciation for South African culture and the similarities in their country’s civil rights struggle and ours.

Project Description : Convergent Paths

Project Description : Convergent Paths


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