Scholarly article on topic 'Reclaiming agency: Justice-oriented social studies teachers respond to changing curricular standards'

Reclaiming agency: Justice-oriented social studies teachers respond to changing curricular standards Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Teaching and Teacher Education
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{"Social studies" / History / "Teaching for social justice" / "Teacher agency" / "Curriculum reform" / "Curriculum standards" / "Teacher education" / "Teacher preparation" / Accountability / "Common core standards"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Alison G. Dover, Nick Henning, Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath

Abstract Emphases on high-stakes testing and accountability can undermine teachers' ability to use their professional expertise to respond to the localized needs of their students. For justice-oriented teachers, they also create ideological conflicts, as teachers are forced to navigate increasingly prescriptive curricular mandates. In this article, we examine how justice-oriented veteran social studies teachers in the United States use their disciplinary expertise and professional agency to respond strategically to the influence of the Common Core State Standards on their discipline. We conclude by discussing the implications for preparing candidates to teach for social justice in accountability-driven contexts.

Academic research paper on topic "Reclaiming agency: Justice-oriented social studies teachers respond to changing curricular standards"

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Reclaiming agency: Justice-oriented social studies teachers respond to changing curricular standards

Alison G. Dover a' *, Nick Henning b, Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath c

a Department of Secondary Education, California State University — Fullerton, 2600 Nutwood Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831, USA b California State University—Fullerton, College Park CP600-18, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868, USA c San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA



» Justice-oriented social studies teachers respond strategically to changing mandates. » Teachers' strategies reflect their disciplinary expertise and professional agency. » Teachers embrace, reframe, and resist local impact of changing standards. » Teacher educators should highlight viability of and model justice-oriented agency. » Future research needed about impact of changing mandates on enactment of justice.



Article history: Received 25 June 2015 Received in revised form 6 July 2016 Accepted 14 July 2016

Keywords: Social studies History

Teaching for social justice Teacher agency Curriculum reform Curriculum standards Teacher education Teacher preparation Accountability Common core standards

Emphases on high-stakes testing and accountability can undermine teachers' ability to use their professional expertise to respond to the localized needs of their students. For justice-oriented teachers, they also create ideological conflicts, as teachers are forced to navigate increasingly prescriptive curricular mandates. In this article, we examine how justice-oriented veteran social studies teachers in the United States use their disciplinary expertise and professional agency to respond strategically to the influence of the Common Core State Standards on their discipline. We conclude by discussing the implications for preparing candidates to teach for social justice in accountability-driven contexts.

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Teaching for social justice, democracy, and inclusion is increasingly emphasized in teacher education programs worldwide, including those in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Scotland, Spain, and Australia (Florian & Rouse, 2009; Gordon, 2006; Harber & Serf, 2006; Henning, 2013; Mills & Ballantyne, 2010; Santos Rego

* Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: (A.G. Dover), (N. Henning), (R. Agarwal-Rangnath). 0742-051X/© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

& Nieto, 2000). These ideals are central to our work as teacher education faculty in the United States, where we guide candidates in examining justice-oriented approaches to theory and practice as they prepare for the myriad challenges they will face in the classroom. In our classrooms, we model approaches to theorizing with students about contextually-relevant issues of (in)equity and justice, and require candidates to develop academically rigorous, standards-aligned curriculum that addresses locally relevant concerns. We encourage teacher candidates to develop strong, trusting relationships with their students and communities, center their teaching in students' lived experiences, and create engaging and critical curricula using robust, student-centered methods. Our

approach is not unique: justice-oriented teacher educators describe similar practices within their own classrooms and communities (e.g. Bieler, 2012; Miller, 2010; Picower, 2012).

However, candidates are learning to teach in complex times. In the U.S., emphases on accountability can create climates where teachers feel disempowered and constrained by prescriptive curriculum and standardized testing (Agarwal, 2011a; Kelly & Brandes, 2001; Weingarten, 2014; Willis & Sandholtz, 2009). Accountability-driven reforms can create both ideological and practical conflicts for teachers, as they are forced to navigate competing priorities and prioritize the content and skills privileged by local curricular mandates (Au, 2009; Berliner, 2011; Ross, Mathison, & Vinson, 2014). As a result, even those teachers with strong social justice orientations can struggle to build, integrate, and enact social justice pedagogies in their first classrooms (Agarwal, 2011b; Cochran-Smith et al., 2009; Dover, 2013a; Gorski, 2010; Henning, 2013; Picower, 2011).

The analysis presented in this article is drawn from a broader qualitative U.S.-based study examining how justice-oriented social studies teachers are responding to their changing curricular, pedagogical, and policy landscapes (Agarwal-Rangnath, Dover, & Henning, 2016). Participating teachers were experientially diverse: some entered their first classroom immediately prior to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies (CCSS); others have twenty or more years of experience navigating multiple sets of content standards, state and federal regulations, and shifts in educational priorities. They teach social studies in classrooms throughout the country, and are required to meet different state content standards and curricular emphases. Collectively, they illustrate the sophisticated, nuanced and strategic ways teachers navigate the dilemmas of teaching for social justice in heavily regulated classrooms. In this article, we examine (1) how teachers use their disciplinary expertise and professional agency to create, implement, and advocate for academically-rigorous, justice-oriented social studies practice and (2) trans-disciplinary strategies for responding strategically to restrictive curricular mandates. We conclude this article by examining the implications for teacher educators seeking to better prepare justice-oriented candidates for accountability-driven schools.

2. Conceptual framework: teaching for social justice in the age of standards

Published accounts of teaching for social justice cite a wide range of conceptual foundations, including democratic education, critical pedagogy, culturally responsive education, ethnic studies, multicultural education, and social justice education (see Agarwal-Rangnath, 2013; Cochran-Smith, 2010; Dover, 2013b; Gorski, 2010; Grant & Agosto, 2008; Hytten & Bettez, 2011; Kaur, 2012; North, 2006, 2008; Sleeter & Grant, 2009; Sleeter, 2015; Tintiangco-Cubales et al., 2015). Contemporary approaches to teaching for social justice build upon this scholarship by foregrounding the imperative to enact justice within the context of increasing emphasis on standards-based and accountability-driven schooling.

2.1. Curricular and pedagogical aspects of teaching social studies for social justice

While individual teachers may choose to foreground different disciplinary concepts and content, conceptual frameworks for teaching for social justice reflect their shared curricular and pedagogical ideals (see Agarwal-Rangnath, 2013; Dover, 2013b, 2015; North, 2006, 2008; Sleeter, 2015; Tintiangco-Cubales et al., 2015). Justice-oriented teachers learn about the lives of students, develop

reciprocal relationships with students' communities, and use this foundation to support academically rigorous curriculum that meets students' individual and communal needs (Cochran-Smith, 2004; Dover, 2013b; Haberman, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995; Sleeter, 2005, 2011, 2015). They situate their work within a wider analysis of structural inequities (Sleeter, 2015), embracing their role as active participants in challenging policies and practices that negatively impact the experiences of linguistically, culturally, so-cioeconomically, and academically diverse students (Oakes & Lipton, 2003; Zollers, Albert, & Cochran-Smith, 2000). They value their—and their students'—transformative potential, and encourage students to join them in examining and enacting change in their schools, communities, and world (Dover, 2013b; Oakes & Lipton, 2003; Nieto, 2000; Sleeter, 2015). Finally, justice-oriented teachers work collaboratively with students, communities, and other stakeholders as they navigate educational policies and promote curricular reform (Bigelow, Harvey, Karp, & Miller, 2001; Horn, 2003; Picower, 2012; Sambell & McDowell, 1998).

Teaching for social justice has multiple points of alignment with social studies curriculum and pedagogy. Teachers can engage students in critically examining past and present histories, analyzing multiple perspectives, and imagining possibilities of social change in their world today (Agarwal, Epstein, Oppenheim, Oyler, & Sonu, 2010, 2011a,b; Au, 2009). Justice-oriented social studies teachers challenge culturally hegemonic portrayals of history, examining how women, people of color, youth, and other traditionally excluded groups contribute to and change their worlds (Au, 2009; Bigelow & Peterson, 1998; Tintiangco-Cubales et al., 2015). They nourish students' critical literacy and consciousness by interrupting and interrogating the texts used in the classroom, and make explicit connections between historical and contemporary examples of struggle and resistance. Overall, they see their work as preparing students to critically transform their worlds (Agarwal, 2011a, b; Au, 2009; Wade, 2007).

2.2. Accountability-driven schooling in the United States

This justice-oriented vision is antithetical to accountability-driven education policy; a movement which was, in the United States, sparked in 1983 with the publication of A Nation at Risk and institutionalized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. By relying upon students' standardized test performance as the primary measure of student learning, accountability mandates result in widespread alignment between disciplinary curriculum and testing requirements (Au, 2009). However, despite NCLB's requirement that all students meet or exceed state-determined proficiency standards by 2014, there has been little change in the performance of U.S. students as measured by the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) (NCES, 2013). Moreover, PISA scores attest to the persistence and prevalence of race-based inequities in educational achievement in the U.S., with statistically significant differences in achievement on the basis of race and school poverty. Nevertheless, despite this seeming failure of accountability-driven reforms in the United States, international competitiveness remains a driving force behind U.S. curricular policies like the CCSS (Duncan, 2010).

In the United States, high-stakes tests focus primarily on English Language Arts and mathematics, resulting in the marginalization of social studies as a discipline, and the pressure to focus more on students' literacy development (Au, 2009 ; 2013a,b; Ross et al., 2014). Indeed, prior to the adoption of the CCSS, U.S. social studies recommendations saw few structural changes since the publication of the report of the NEA Committee on the Social Studies in 1916 (Marker & Mehlinger, 1992; Marker, 2006). Statelevel curricular frameworks have consistently foregrounded lists

of historical events and figures, and historical, economic, and governmental "facts," with little overall emphasis on social studies concepts, disciplinary skills, or critical thinking. In response to these trends, a coalition of social studies and civic organizations, led by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) (2013), proposed a framework for state-level curricular reform. This framework, called the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards is intended to support states in "upgrading" standards through an increased critical thinking, historical analysis, democratic citizenship, thematic curricular organization, and social studies teachers' "shared responsibility" for teaching literacy (NCSS, 2013, pp. 6—7). In the C3 Framework, the CCSS literacy standards are described as providing the "foundation for inquiry in social studies, and as such ... should be an indispensable part of any state's social studies standards" (2013, p. 20). Thus, the C3 framework is explicitly positioned as aligned with the overarching vision of the CCSS.

Published in 2010, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects (CCSS) represent a dramatic shift in the approach to curricular standards in the U.S. Described by supporters as an internationally benchmarked set of standards intended to increase rigor and college and career readiness among students in the U.S. (National Governor's Association, 2010), the CCSS require teachers of all disciplines to work towards a common set of literacy goals. The CCSS have been adopted by 43 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories (CCSSI, 2015), and their visibility within the C3 Framework underscores their tremendous impact on social studies education throughout the U.S.

Although a few states have begun to write and review new state-level social studies standards that grapple with the complexities of disciplinary literacy in social studies, the dominant reaction has been to "push" the CCSS literacy standards into previously-existing state social studies content standards. This, in concert with the proliferation of state-adopted textbooks and high-stakes tests that narrowly align to the standards (Au, 2013a; Brooks & Dietz, 2012/13) pressures social studies teachers to privilege the close reading of text and transmittal of factual information (Ross, 2014). This creates a contradiction for justice-oriented social studies teachers, who define effective teaching as student-driven, contextually-responsive, and inquiry-based. In the remainder of this article, we examine how participants engage this tension as they strategically respond to the specific, practical impacts of the CCSS in their local contexts.

3. Methods

3.1. Participants and data collection

The data presented in this paper emerged from a larger book project examining the advice that veteran, justice-oriented social studies teachers would offer new teachers entering the field (Agarwal-Rangnath et al., 2016). We posed questions for participants to consider when writing letters to new teachers, including: How do you translate your vision of social justice into practice? How are social justice themes integrated into your lessons and/or curriculum? How do you push back against educational/school policies you don't agree with? What advice would you give to new teachers to help them uphold their commitment to social justice? What helps you stay committed to social justice and stay in the field of teaching? In this article, we read across participants' letters to examine their strategic navigation of curricular, pedagogical, and political complexities associated with teaching for social justice in standards-driven contexts.

We recruited participants through our active engagement in a

diverse array of face-to-face and virtual teacher networks (e.g., NCSS, the National Association for Multicultural Education, Teachers for Social Justice, and Facing History Facing Ourselves). We distributed information about our project within these and similar communities, and used targeted and snowball sampling to recruit justice-oriented social studies/history teachers with at least five years of experience teaching grades 6—12.22 teachers responded to our call, all of whom submitted letters; 20 of these teachers (all of those who had five or more years teaching social studies at the secondary level) are included in the study presented in this paper. Study participants are ethnically, geographically, and experientially diverse, with between six and 20 years of experience teaching in urban, suburban, and rural schools across 11 U.S. states. Most (80%) had taught or currently teach in urban classrooms; two participants taught exclusively in suburban schools, and two exclusively in rural schools. Participants included 13 women and seven men, and seven teachers who identify as people of color (three as Latina, one as Indian, two as Asian, and one as Sinhalese [Southeast Asian]); the remaining 13 teachers identified as White or European American. Almost a third of the teachers (seven participants) are also current or former teacher educators; three of these teachers have left their K-12 classrooms to engage in teacher education full-time. Three participants are currently pursuing doctoral studies in education.

3.2. Data analysis

Once we received the letters from participating teachers, the three members of the research team independently read all of the letters, using line-by-line and focused coding processes (Charmaz, 2006) to identify emergent themes. Initial codes included concepts like teacher identity, community building, curricular content, critical literacy, teacher activism, teacher education practice, and teachers' relationships with students. We then worked collectively to refine our coding structure and identify central themes in participants' letters. These themes highlighted teachers' conceptual approaches to the CCSS as they have experienced them, specific curricular and pedagogical tools teachers used to enact justice-oriented curriculum in the classroom, and ways teachers were able to develop, support, and sustain their identities as justice-oriented teachers in standards-driven classrooms. We reviewed the letters to gather data related to each of these themes, and used Google docs to write collaborative memos (Charmaz, 2006) examining how these constructs manifested in both the letters and the wider field of justice-oriented teaching and teacher education. In keeping with the tenets of constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006), we contacted teachers throughout the analysis process to gather additional data and refine our evolving model. The following excerpt from one of our emails to a participating teacher is illustrative of how we used theoretical sampling and member checking to develop and validate our emergent framework:

One of the themes we're exploring is the way justice-oriented teachers are using the CCSS as an opportunity to redefine social studies education. You speak to this in your letter, when you advise new teachers that 'what Common Core and teaching will become is going to be decided largely by you, your choices, your movements, your creativity, your associations, and your ability to avoid or reframe and outright refuse.' We're curious about the choices, movements, avoidance, reframing and refusal that you yourself enact. Can you give an example of an aspect of the CCSS that you reframed or refused? ... Likewise, you refer to the "small conversations" that decide the future of teaching and learning. Can you recall a specific moment when you realized-

either at the time or in retrospect-that you were engaged in this type of redefinition?

In addition to contacting teachers for clarification, we also invited teachers to share examples of lessons or unit plans that they developed or implemented that reflect their approach to justice-oriented social studies. By collecting examples of curricular materials, we hoped to gain a better understanding of how teachers' philosophical approaches manifested as practical, classroom-level processes.

4. Results

As we analyzed teachers' letters, we were struck by participants' nuanced and situated responses to the CCSS. Rather than speaking narrowly to the disciplinary implications of the CCSS, teachers instead described their multifaceted and strategic approach teaching for social justice in the context of accountability-driven education policy. Participants provided detailed descriptions of their own standards-aligned lessons, offered advice about how to engage in school- and district-level curricular advocacy, and critiqued local and national education reforms. Moreover, participants rarely offered blanket endorsements or rejections of the CCSS; instead, they spoke to their multiple and overlapping strategies for negotiating the curricular, pedagogical, and political dimensions of the CCSS and related education reform traditions. The letters offer a compelling testimony to the complexity of teaching for social justice in accountability-driven times, and we invite readers to review them in full at www.socialstudiesforsocialjustice. com.

Based on this research, we developed a theoretical model depicting how teachers respond to the CCSS by embracing, reframing, or resisting the impact of the CCSS on social studies curriculum (Agarwal-Rangnath et al., 2016). This framework builds upon existing research regarding teachers' responses to curricular mandates (e.g. Stillman and Anderson's (2009) "follow, reject or flip the script" and Sleeter's (2005) "unstandardizing" of curriculum) by focusing on teachers' enactment of justice-oriented agency in the present Common Core era. In the following sections we present an overview of this model, before examining how participants use their disciplinary expertise and professional agency to strategically create, implement, and advocate for academically-rigorous, justice-oriented social studies curriculum. We conclude our discussion with an analysis of the implications of this work for teaching and teacher education.

4.1. Responding strategically to the CCSS

Participants' letters referenced three primary strategies for navigating the opportunities and challenges presented by the Common Core State Standards: teachers focus on aspects of the standards they can embrace as inherently aligned with their curricular priorities, take advantage of opportunities to reframe social studies in response to the standards, and resist elements of the CCSS that they see as negatively impacting their students and discipline. While some teachers could be characterized as primarily working from one of these stances, most participants cited all three approaches in describing their strategic response to the CCSS in their local context. In the following analysis, we use excerpts from teachers' letters to illustrate trends associated with each of these approaches, before centering our analysis on teachers' enactment of justice-oriented agency.

4.1.1. Embracing the possibilities of the CCSS

In their letters, participants described elements of the CCSS that they consider generally aligned with what they were already doing or wanted to do in the classroom. Specifically, they see the CCSS as offering more flexibility and greater latitude in choosing materials for use in the classroom, and hope the CCSS will validate their use of social studies curriculum that is less focused on prescriptive content and more reflexive, student-centered, and grounded in critical thinking. Teachers also welcomed the CCSS' emphasis on literacy development, and saw this as an opportunity to foreground the types of critical literacy practices that are central to justice-oriented social studies instruction.

In her letter, Eran, a director of professional development and social studies teacher in San Jose, California, describes the CCSS as an "avenue" for preparing students to engage in justice-oriented community activism:

Rather than seeing standards such as Common Core as a roadblock getting in the way of my passion for social justice, I consider it an avenue to achieve my goals. I want my students to be activists in the 21st century, a role which requires a specific skill set. Any advocate who works for justice must be a strong critical thinker, a thoughtful listener, and an effective communicator. The framework of Common Core outlines standards that will help students to obtain these skills. So when I am creating curriculum and instructing my students about the world around them, I can use Common Core to help guide my practice.

Eran goes on to identify parallels between the themes of the CCSS and her own emphases, including being a "critical think[er]," "thoughtful listener," and an "effective communicator." In her letter, Eran describes how she uses CCSS requirements that students "evaluate sources of information" (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11—12.3) and "integrate information from diverse sources ... noting discrepancies among sources" (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11—12.9) to help students digest and deconstruct what they are reading rather than passively take in information. Eran describes this as "an invaluable skill that will allow a student to be critical of ballot initiatives, Supreme Court rulings, media and political campaigns, and advertising."

Similarly, Eran embraces the CCSS' emphasis on speaking and listening as central to her approach to justice-oriented social studies practice, noting that

The student who becomes a justice advocate must be able to listen thoughtfully to divergent and diverse viewpoints in order to understand members of the community. Common Core demands this of schools as it states that students should be able to "set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making" and "actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions" (CCSS.ELA-LITER-ACY.SL.9—10.1.B and 10.1.C). Moreover, students must "respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives" (CCSS.ELA-LITER-ACY.SL.9—10.1.D). Being able to listen carefully to others can help build empathy and understanding in a community. This allows individuals to make more compassionate and inclusive decisions that can make a more equitable, just environment.

By focusing on the many ways the CCSS reflect her vision of justice-oriented social studies practice, Eran is able to translate the CCSS' emphasis on skill-development into objectives that directly align with her focus on social justice. She sees her work as using the tools given, including the CCSS, to her to empower her students to "create a more inclusive and just community."

Laura, a 9th grade history teacher in San Lorenzo, California describes herself as a critical social studies educator, one who is in "the constant process of learning and revising curriculum." Like Eran, Laura embraces the CCSS' focus on skills rather than content, emphasizing the ways this allows social studies teachers to "regain control over the content of their courses" and center justice-oriented content.

We are given much more flexibility in designing our courses when our target is, for example, "Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source" (CCSS.ELA-LIT-ERACY.RH.11—12.2) rather than "Describe the emergence of Romanticism in art and literature (e.g., the poetry of William Blake and William Wordsworth), social criticism (e.g., the novels of Charles Dickens), and the move away from Classicism in Europe" (California History Content Standard 10.3.7) .... The Common Core requires practice and proficiency with reading and writing at advanced levels (something we all want for our students), but does not (currently) mandate which texts and what content we select to accomplish this.

In her letter, Laura describes how she "took advantage of the leeway afforded by the move to common core [sic] to write a new course on race, class, gender, and sexuality." She details the ways her objectives align with the priorities of the standards:

We will practice all of the foundational literacy skills demanded by the common core. However, instead of "evaluating authors' different points of view on the same historical event or issue" in the context of the Federalist papers or Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, we will hold up Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Case for Reparations" against Kevin Williamson's response in the National Review. Our texts within the "11-CCR text complexity band" will be written by Gloria Anzaldua, Barbara Ehrenrich, Michelle Alexander, and bell hooks. Using these relevant and timely texts, students will write weekly literature reviews using the "They Say/I Say" structure in order to "evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information" [CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11—12.8] .... I am confident that the rigorous discourse, reading, and writing in this classroom will more than satisfy the baseline established by the common core test; but the content will enable all of us to explore our own identities and gain a more complete understanding of the historical underpinnings of the structure inequities of our society today.

In this newly created course, Laura is able to meet standards, but with texts that challenge students to look at history from a critical lens. She embraces the ways the new standards allow her to hold true to her vision of social justice teaching, while still teaching the foundational literacy skills her students need.

Eran and Laura speak for many participants in articulating points of alignment between the CCSS and their own commitments to critical literacy, inquiry, and research. However, despite the opportunities participants described in the shift towards the CCSS, their letters also highlight complex dilemmas the CCSS can create for justice-oriented teachers. Laura, for example, balances her encouragement that new teachers "take advantage" of the opportunity the CCSS offers to "leave Eurocentric, male-centric, straight-centric textbooks far behind and pick topics and texts that are relevant to your students and return agency to disenfranchised or objectified people" with the recognition that there are "serious problems with and implications of" the CCSS. In the following section, we examine how participants are reconciling these

tensions through a strategic reframing of the CCSS and its implications for social studies curriculum.

4.1.2. Using the CCSS to reclaim their discipline

In addition to embracing elements of the CCSS that align with or reinforce their approach to teaching social studies, participants described their efforts to strategically exploit the CCSS in order to reclaim and reframe their discipline and their role as curriculum creators. In this way, justice-oriented social studies teachers are using the implementation of the CCSS to as an opportunity to reclaim professional autonomy, subvert dominant curricular and pedagogical paradigms, and recenter issues of equity, social location, and justice.

Brian, a former teacher with sixteen years of experience teaching History and American Government in East Los Angeles, responds to the CCSS with a call for teachers to take an active role in redefining their field:

What CCSS and teaching will become is going to be decided largely by you, your choices, your movements, your creativity, your associations, and your ability to avoid or reframe and outright refuse. Revolutionaries exist amongst us .... Rather than the shout on the street or the angry frustrated denouncements of the department or faculty meeting, it is the whispered conversation in the hallway, the lunch time spent talking and planning, the lesson or unit shared that makes the most difference.

Brian sees teachers who use standards-aligned curriculum to enact justice as "warriors" whose daily instructional decisions can shape the future of teaching and learning. When faced with intrusive curricular and assessment requirements, Brian and his colleagues worked collectively to develop and advocate for a social studies curriculum that was thematically aligned, grounded in critical pedagogy, and inclusive of the required skills and content. Ultimately, this led to changes in the instructional requirements at Brian's school, as they convinced their principal and superintendent of the importance and validity of their approach to teaching social studies.

We reframed the conversation around what good or strong teaching is allowing us to bring in other material, other forms of evidence that show student growth which led to stronger conversations amongst colleagues about teaching and learning. Not perfect, but an improvement.

In this way, Brian and his colleagues weren't embracing the curricular requirements of the CCSS, but rather reframing them as necessitating a comprehensive, justice-oriented redevelopment of the social studies curriculum. Brian's emphasis on the critical role of teachers as curriculum creators echoes elements of the standards themselves; in describing the standards, developers claim they create an opportunity for "teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how these goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed" (National Governors Association, 2010, p. 4). However, Brian's approach also highlights a significant challenge associated with teaching for social justice in standards-driven classrooms: the necessity that teachers have both a comprehensive foundation in their disciplines and a willingness to engage in the difficult work of curricular authorship and activism.

In their letters, participants described multiple ways they rise to this challenge. Melissa, an 8th grade teacher with experience teaching in Guadalajara, Mexico, Chicago, Los Angeles, and

Wisconsin, claimed that mandates like the CCSS are what inspire her to reclaim her creativity and professional autonomy.

Call me crazy, but working within (sometimes hostile) parameters like CCSS has actually made my teaching more robustly justice-oriented. Beginning again in Mexico, I kept remembering a Chicago workshop with a creativity expert. Standards and assessments had us in a chokehold. How could we teach in their grip? This improv coach challenged us: "Creativity is not only dreaming up whatever you want! It is taking what you're given and imaginatively reinventing it. Creativity within structure—it's the improv principle of 'Yes, and ... '" Teaching for social justice, particularly in our standardized era, requires creativity. Yes, and: We can take structures like CCSS and do the critical work of teaching for social justice within them.

This should be reassuring: To teach for social justice, you don't have to build curriculum from scratch. But whatever you teach, you must do so critically. Our world—with its myriad injustices, with tangled and misrepresented histories, with social science built on colonizing methodologies—requires critically conscious citizens ....As Howard Zinn (2002) said, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." Whatever you teach, it's a moving train. What direction are you headed?

Like Brian, Melissa uses the shift towards the CCSS as an opportunity to redefine social studies curriculum as both student-driven and justice-centered. When building curriculum, Melissa uses key questions about ownership and perspective to hold herself accountable as a critical educator, asking "Whose voice is missing? ... How would this (hi)story be different if told from another perspective? How does this connect to the world today?" She then uses the tools and emphases of the CCSS to frame an alternate curriculum that focuses on what she describes as the "heart of critical social studies." In this way, Melissa strategically exploits the CCSS framework in order to enact student-driven, justice-oriented curriculum. In so doing, she echoes other participants' emphases on using the CCSS to reframe the discourse about social studies education and support transformative social studies practice. By relying upon their robust content knowledge, awareness of the demands of the CCSS, and ability to critically and creatively reframe the social studies curriculum, justice-oriented teachers are able to reframe the requirements of the CCSS in order to reclaim their professional agency.

In addition to strategically embracing or reframing elements of the CCSS in order to support justice-oriented practice, participants' letters also highlighted their efforts to resist elements of the CCSS that they see as harmful for their students and discipline. In the following section, we explore how—and why—justice-oriented teachers are resisting the CCSS in their classrooms and communities.

4.1.3. Resisting standardization and corporatization

Despite the many opportunities participants saw in selectively embracing or reframing aspects of standards-driven reform, they also emphasized the need to strategically resist elements of this "new" curricular shift. This emphasis on resistance reflects teachers' deep understanding of the broader historical context of educational reform, and the powerful influence of politicians, the wealthy, and large corporations in the creation and implementation of the CCSS (Au, 2013a; Ross et al., 2014). Participants' letters revealed that justice-oriented teachers are acutely aware of the limitations and risks of accountability-driven reforms, and actively resist the elements of the CCSS that they see as harmful for their students and discipline.

Participants routinely described the CCSS as a double edged

sword. Dawn, who has nineteen years of experience teaching in urban districts throughout Massachusetts, put it simply: "The Common Core curriculum offers much to critique, but I decided a long time ago to critique and question, then settle on what I can use." Tom, who taught high school social studies for seven years before taking a temporary leave to work with a non-profit organization focused on supporting the implementation of the CCSS, echoed Dawn's concerns about the ways accountability-driven reforms are implemented.

Common Core simultaneously represents to me great promise and great fear. Holding all students to high academic standards in literacy, critical thinking, and problem solving is essential to a more socially just education system. Yet, I fear we will be our own worst enemies.

Tom notes that many educators have never known anything other than a standards-driven, high stakes testing, accountability policy context, and sees no indication that this context will change with the CCSS:

Law makers, leaders, and teachers have been immersed in a culture of high-stakes testing and accountability. Few teachers I work with remember anything other than education driven by multiple choice tests, pacing guides, and district mandates. Even fewer have trust in the people (from local to national) making decisions about what is best for our students. We should embrace standards that emphasize higher-order thinking and communication skills, but we must also learn from our recent mistakes to build strategic systems and programs around the implementation of these standards.

Tom's emphasis on the difference between the stated intent of the standards and their school-level implementation was a common theme in participants' letters. Multiple teachers described the corrosive impact of standards-aligned standardized tests, leading some to question their whether they will stay in the classroom. Laura, who elsewhere detailed the aspects of the CCSS that she finds useful, also centered her concerns about the impact of accountability mandates on teachers and students. She asks,

Who's making money off of these tests? What about the schools with inadequate computers or internet connection? Will test questions with proven bias be thrown out? Wasn't the field test [of Smarter Balanced] a nightmare? Will teachers be forced to 'teach to this test' with the same gusto as the [previous] state content standards, robbing teachers of their creativity and local control?

Michael, a teacher and teacher educator with thirteen years of experience teaching social studies in south central Pennsylvania, echoes Laura's skepticism and critique. His letter is a richly-referenced indictment of the CCSS, describing a process through which business leaders and politicians put the CCSS together hastily with significant financial support from Bill Gates and related industries, and little input from teachers. He argues that the CCSS were enthusiastically embraced by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan without adequate field testing, and against the best interests of students. As Michael puts it:

[The CCSS] are a one-size-fits-all pseudo-solution to what ails many of our public schools. The testing industry, which helped to write these standards, is already taking advantage of the vast new markets the standards created (see Ravitch, 2013;; Figueroa, 2013). In the end, the [CCSS] is part of a thinly veiled

effort to reform public education in order to destroy public education, one "failing" school at a time.

However, despite his extended critique of the CCSS, Michael also reassures new teachers that they will not be alone as they engage in justice-oriented resistance:

If you are like me and share my skepticism toward this latest trend, fret not. While Common Core is not going away anytime soon, resistance has mounted from both sides of the political spectrum, and from outside as well as within the schoolhouse walls. Students and teachers across the nation have been standing up to the high-stakes testing requirements that the Common Core has helped to intensify ... From a macro level, one can see the pushback bearing fruit. And as a social studies teacher, I am sure you can easily see what the protests are about: fairness, equity, and treating our children with respect. In other words, social justice.

Michael's emphasis on resistance to the CCSS as social justice activism was echoed by other teachers, many of whom put little credence in the longevity of the CCSS as either a revolutionary or restrictive reform.

Overall, teachers chose to strategically resist aspects of the CCSS that violated their curricular, pedagogical, or political priorities. Depending upon teachers' unique stance and context, this resistance included personal and public critique of the standards, covert acts of curricular resistance, participation in opt-out movements, political activism, and even deciding to leave the classroom. Collectively, participants described their resistance as necessary advocacy on behalf of their students, themselves, and their profession, articulating the importance of choosing to resist any aspect of the CCSS that does not serve their students or their vision of justice.

4.2. Using professional expertise and enacting agency

A central theme in participants' letters is the imperative for teachers to use their professional expertise to advocate for justice-oriented curriculum, pedagogy, and policy. Sarah, who has taught social studies for ten years in Oregon and Arizona, described a trifecta of qualities she considers necessary for justice-oriented teaching: "compelling content," "rigorous & relevant skills," and "authentic relationships." Sarah's approach to curriculum-building reveals the depth and rigor of her disciplinary foundation:

I became a social studies teacher because I am genuinely curious about the enduring questions that historians, political scientists and economists pursue ... I research. I read. I listen to experts speak about their work. I develop my own intellectual intimacy with historical figures and pivotal turning points, with political trends, with driving economic forces ... Even units that I have taught for years, that I "know" inside and out, require that I turn key events over from a different angle, seek out new sources, or pursue a more nuanced way of "knowing" the human beings at the center of an historical moment.

Sarah uses her professional expertise to prioritize curricular content, center sophisticated social studies concepts and skills, and build curriculum that is relevant to her students' daily lives. In addition to analyzing issues of social justice throughout history, she and her students also interrogate locally resonant injustices. In her words:

Deciding how to address the social justice issues that impact us most personally requires considerable courage. However, when we avoid these delicate and difficult explorations, my students surely learn that the content they are studying is not really relevant, that working for social justice may apply to other times or places, but not their own.

Sarah, like many of the participants in this study, is able to use her disciplinary expertise, sophisticated skills, and "considerable courage" to respond strategically to the curricular, pedagogical, and political dimensions of changing curricular mandates. Jennifer, who taught middle school for seven years in Chicago before leaving to pursue doctoral studies, placed a similar emphasis on the importance of autonomy and agency as elements of justice oriented practice:

With top down mandates such as the CCSS, educators often forget that they are professionals and not technicians. Reading the introduction to the CCSS carefully one finds that it leaves wiggle room for teachers to decide how to apply the standards, but do not take my word for it. Read the standards yourself, learn about the history of the standards, apply a critical lens such as questioning who benefits from the CCSS.

Jennifer, like many of the teachers who were most vocal regarding their resistance to the CCSS, sees justice-oriented teaching as increasingly difficult in the current educational climate, but encourages teachers to work collectively to enact curricular and legislative change. She notes that she is "not willing to sit on the sidelines and attempt[s] to take action personally and professionally through activism as well as [her] teaching and scholarly work."

In his letter, Prentice, a former social studies teacher in rural Alabama who is now a university-based teacher educator, cited Evans (2006) in reminding himself and other educators that "If you don't like the current direction of curricular reform, take heart, it may not last" (p. 317). According to Prentice, mandates should not, and cannot, dictate teaching practice if they are found by teachers to be in conflict with their philosophical and professional expertise.

You have several pedagogical decisions to make. They can be summarized in a question that one of my methods students asked me, "Can you really teach like this? Should we just play by the rules and then teach this way when we get tenure?" In this question we can see the tension between teaching for social justice and teaching as an act of self-preservation. In an ideal world, the mandates of the state and the ideals encapsulated in social justice would have a symbiotic, give and take, yin-yang relationship. But, we don't live in an ideal education world.

In fact, when Prentice taught in rural Alabama, he thought of himself as "raging against the machine, quietly". He had recognized early in his career that justice-oriented teaching in rural Alabama would be impossible if he made himself a target, and instead that "going underground" with social justice was necessary. He studied the standards and found ways to integrate social justice oriented content into the state approved framework. In his role as gatekeeper (Thornton, 1991) Prentice "found chinks in the curricular armor, openings where [he] chose to allow the voices of the oppressed to speak on their own behalf."

Prentice's ability to find "chinks in the curricular armor" is neither incidental nor accidental. Instead it is the product of his strategic effort to use his professional expertise and social location to engage in justice-oriented activism with and on behalf of his

students. He sees this as integral to the work of a social studies educator:

Social studies teachers are called to push the envelope. In this way, we are simply following in a tradition of educators who sought to help students understand their imperfect worlds. We should draw strength from this idea and recognize that when we teach for social justice, we are not alone, and that CCSS represents a roadblock yes, but not one that is insurmountable. Rise up.

Whether seeking points of alignment, opportunities to inform disciplinary discourse, or engaging in political activism, participants in this study do indeed "rise up" as they create, implement, and advocate for justice-oriented curriculum and policy.

5. Discussion

As justice-oriented former teachers and teacher educators, we resonate with participants' emphasis on their multiple and overlapping approaches to the complexities of teaching critically in heavily regulated, accountability-driven classrooms. Our study revealed that justice-oriented teachers are strategic in their response to this challenge, and draw upon three primary stances in response to the Common Core State Standards. They focus on the ways the CCSS can align with their vision of student-centered, justice-oriented curriculum and pedagogy. When teachers draw from this stance, which we describe as embracing the CCSS, they see the adoption of the CCSS as offering increased curricular flexibility and validating their emphasis on teaching traditionally marginalized histories. These teachers describe the CCSS not as an obstacle, but as a validation of the importance of teaching students to think critically about some key social studies concepts and skills.

In addition to appreciating the curricular flexibility and literacy emphases of the CCSS, justice-oriented teachers also interpret the CCSS as an opportunity to reclaim social studies curriculum as inherently justice-oriented. By reframing the discipline in response to the CCSS, teachers can use the new standards as an opportunity to subvert dominant curricular and pedagogical paradigms and recenter issues of equity, social location, and justice. Teachers who adopt this stance argue that the shift towards CCSS creates both the opportunity and imperative for justice-oriented social studies teachers to take up the National Governors Association's invitation to "teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how these goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed" (2010, p. 4). Teachers using the CCSS to reframe curriculum also emphasize the importance of collaboratively developing and disseminating justice-oriented social studies curriculum.

However, justice-oriented social studies teachers are also acutely aware of the ways the CCSS are being used to justify top-down curricular mandates and ever-increasing testing requirements. For example, while many teachers welcome the CCSS' emphasis on critical literacy, they caution against its glorification of close reading and resultant decontextualization of historical interpretation. They question the evolution of the CCSS, asking who these new standards benefit, and how justice-oriented teachers can avoid inadvertently institutionalizing and reifying corporate education reforms. These teachers highlight the importance of resisting elements of the CCSS in order to protect justice-oriented curriculum in and pedagogy within standards-driven classrooms, and share their strategies for collective action on behalf of their students and communities.

The stances adopted by these teachers echo those cited by justice-oriented educators nationwide in the United States, and internationally in countries like Australia, Canada, and New

Zealand (Day, Elliot, & Kington, 2005; Dover, 2013a; Lasky, 2005; Picower, 2011; Skerrett, 2010; Smith, Anderson, & Blanch, 2016). The teachers were acutely aware of the politicization of education policy and practice—including the standards themselves—and sought to foster their and their students' critical consciousness (Freire, 1970) within and beyond the classroom. By strategically responding to the implications of the CCSS for their discipline, these teachers were able to respond effectively to the unique pressures and challenges associated with teaching in an increasingly accountability-oriented climate. These strategies are similar to those described in Stillman & Anderson's (2011) analysis of how language arts teachers navigate tensions caused by scripted curriculum, as well as those proposed in Sleeter's (2005) framework for "unstandardizing" curriculum.

Our research extends the literature base by focusing specifically on social studies teachers' enactment of agency in response to their changing curricular landscape. Participants used their localized knowledge of students, content-area expertise, and professional wisdom to develop academically rigorous, standards-aligned curriculum that addresses key disciplinary concepts and skills. Thus, rather than passively allowing external mandates to dictate their practice, participants instead used their professional agency to curate, critique, and create curriculum designed to increase their students' ability to think critically about history and contemporary society. In so doing, they not only met, but often exceeded, the requirements of the CCSS, thus challenging prevailing rhetoric that too frequently faults teachers and their students for the supposed lack of rigor in P-12 education (Kumashiro, 2012).

Participants' ability to enact justice-oriented curriculum and pedagogy in the context of the CCSS contributes to a growing body of scholarship regarding the relevance and viability of teaching for social justice within and despite heavily mandated classrooms (e.g. Agarwal-Rangnath, 2013; Dover, 2015, 2016; Sleeter, 2005, 2011; Stillman, 2011; Stillman & Anderson, 2011). Like other justice-oriented teachers and teacher educators, participants considered themselves primarily accountable to themselves, their students, and their community, rather than externally imposed mandates (see Hefflin, 2002; Picower, 2011; Sleeter, 2011; Tintiangco-Cubales et al., 2015; Ullucci, 2011). We consider this a critical enactment of agency within the context of broader neoliberal reforms, which are characterized by political and rhetorical efforts to undermine the professional expertise and autonomy of teachers (Giroux, 2013).

However, while this stance reflects teachers' deep commitment to practices that reflect the needs of their students and local contexts, it is not without risk. Picower (2011) refers to a "state of fear" that is created when political and institutional factors inhibit teachers' freedom to "learn how to use their classrooms for social change" (p. 1113). Although participants in this study didn't articulate fear per se, they were vocal about the ways the accountability climate inhibited their work by limiting the scope of available curricular resources, increasing the emphasis on standardized testing, and undermining their authority and autonomy in the classroom. These concerns echo those expressed by justice-oriented teachers in other disciplines; Dover's (2013a) research, for example, examined the impact of individual and institutional resistance and insufficient personal and curricular resources on justice-oriented approaches to teaching English Language Arts. Similar themes are visible throughout the research on factors inhibiting early career teachers' ability to enact justice in their classroom (e.g., Agarwal, 2011b; Agarwal et al., 2010; Cochran-Smith et al., 2015, 2009,; Gorski, 2010; Henning, 2013; Picower, 2011), as well as that regarding teachers' decision to leave the profession (e.g. Dunn, 2015; Olsen & Anderson, 2007).

In considering our findings, it is important to note the ways in which participants are both representative of, and unique in

comparison to, U.S. social studies teachers at large. They are significantly more diverse than the U.S. teaching population, approximately 80% of which is comprised of white females (NCES, 2013). They are also active in justice-oriented virtual or face-to-face networks (through which they learned about this study), interested in writing and theorizing about their experience, and see themselves as having advice to offer new teachers. We suspect, but cannot confirm, that participants in this study have a greater sense of agency regarding the CCSS than is the norm among teachers; however, as a study designed to learn from the practices of a targeted sample of justice-oriented veteran social studies teachers, we do not consider this a limitation of our research. We do, however, wonder about the distribution of strategic responses of embracing, reframing, and resisting among a more representative sample of teachers.

We were also troubled by the number of participants who have left or are considering leaving the classroom; these teachers frequently cited decreasing autonomy and increasing standardization as the impetus for their exit. We wonder about this trend, and how it impacts and is impacted by teachers' strategic response to the CCSS. Do teachers 'burn out' more quickly if they attempt to embrace curricular changes that in some way violate their vision of justice-oriented practices, or if they attempt to resist an increasingly overwhelming set of accountability mandates? Additional research is necessary in order to more fully unpack these questions.

6. Implications

As justice-oriented teachers, teacher educators, and scholars, we are acutely aware of the challenges associated with teaching critically in the current educational climate. In the U.S., neoliberal mandates, such as those related to standardized testing, curriculum scripting, and high-stakes accountability, have a deprofessionaliz-ing and disempowering impact on teachers (Agarwal, 2011b; Giroux, 2013). These policies tend to have the most dramatic impact in historically marginalized urban communities of color, resulting in especially alarming attrition rates among urban educators (Ingersoll & Merrill, 2013). We are also deeply concerned about the implications of changes in teacher education policy, such as the rapid institutionalization of high-stakes, privatized teacher performance assessments like edTPA, that socialize new teachers to see themselves as primarily accountable to external, anonymous authorities rather than local classroom and community priorities. The types of mandates undermine the integrity of the teacher preparation process by requiring candidates to teach towards an external vision rather develop and learn how to enact their own. We fear the implications of this for the next generation of teachers.

Thus we see our research as offering a framework for conceptualizing how justice-oriented teachers can respond strategically to attempts to regulate and standardize their work. By examining the ways participants utilized multiple and overlapping strategies to enact dynamic, situated responses to curricular mandates, we hope to encourage readers to consider the strategies best suited to their own philosophy and teaching context. We see this consideration as a first step towards justice-oriented action.

Moreover, as former teachers ourselves, we are aware of the many reasons why justice-oriented teachers might pursue university appointments or work in educational non-profit organizations. As stated earlier, we are concerned by the number of participants who have left or are considering leaving the classroom. We wonder how justice-oriented teacher educators might more effectively prepare pre-service teachers to navigate the challenges of teaching for social justice in contemporary classrooms. We also see a pressing need for future research regarding ways to support and sustain justice-oriented teachers in staying in their classrooms,

especially in the face of a sometimes hostile climate (Henning, 2013; Picower, 2007, 2011; Quartz, 2003).

Research underscores the efficacy of justice-oriented professional development groups for facilitating teachers' conceptual and practical approaches to teaching for social justice (e.g. Henning, 2013; Picower, 2011; Ritchie, 2011). Some of these groups are formally affiliated with universities, beginning during and continuing beyond candidates' pre-service experiences (e.g. Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Quartz, 2003; Ritchie, Cone, An, & Bullock, 2013). Others take the form of informal, unaffiliated inquiry groups, such as grassroots Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) hosted by the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) in New York City, Teachers for Social Justice in Chicago, Teachers 4 Social Justice (T4SJ) in San Francisco, the Association of Raza Educators (ARE) in California, and justice-oriented teacher networks nationwide (see Network of Teacher Activist Groups, n.d.). Picower's (2015) research on ItAGs in New York, and Kohli, Picower, Martinez, and Ortiz's (2015) related work on critical professional development (CPD), highlight the way these groups enhance teachers' fluency in social justice theory and content and their sense of membership in a wider community of justice-oriented educators. We see significant possibility in this work, and recommend additional research to assess how teacher-led, justice-oriented professional development might increase teachers' longevity in the classroom.

As teacher educators, we are inspired by participants' strategic engagement with restrictive mandates, as well as their emphasis on the importance of teachers' ability, and right, to think and act for themselves. Participants in this study embodied Gorlewski's (2015) vision of simultaneous critical compliance with and reflective resistance to neoliberal education policy, and used that vision to inform their daily practice. Especially in light of research regarding the relationship between teachers' social justice visions and social justice practices (e.g. Dover, 2015; Hawley & Jordan, 2014), we see opportunities to use our findings to support candidates in "trying out" potential responses to changing mandates.

In their analysis of social studies teachers' development and articulation of a disciplinary vision (or "rationale"), Hawley and Jordan (2014) argue that the visioning process prepares candidates to advocate for and enact transformative curricular practices. Thus, we see great value in challenging candidates to articulate their social justice vision and translate it into concrete curricular and pedagogical practices. Teacher educators might invite candidates to consider which aspects of the CCSS they embrace, reframe, or resist overall, or with regard to a specific disciplinary concept or skill. Likewise, teacher educators could guide candidates in analyzing the philosophical, pedagogical, and curricular approaches detailed in the letters themselves, which are available as an open-access resource at This use of study-related findings could facilitate the investigation of persistent questions regarding the relationship among teacher preparation, candidate beliefs, and classroom practices (see Cochran-Smith et al., 2015), while simultaneously meeting teachers' expressed need for additional pre-service modeling of justice-oriented approaches to teaching in accountability-driven classrooms (Agarwal et al., 2010; Dover, 2013a; Cochran-Smith et al., 2009; Dover, 2013a; Henning, 2013; Picower, 2011).

As justice-oriented teacher educators, we too are forced to walk a tightrope of preparing candidates to both succeed within and critique the current educational landscape. The authors of this article all teach classes that directly and explicitly engage the CCSS and other curricular standards, high-stakes teacher performance assessments, and the curricular priorities of our state regulatory agencies. Like our participants, we have to think strategically about what to embrace, reframe and resist. Our involvement with other justice-oriented educators through organizations like the National

Association of Multicultural Education (NAME) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESJ) Special Interest Group), and ongoing work with teachers like those in this study, is critical to our ability to effectively navigate increasingly restrictive mandates.

However, we, like the participants in this study, had dramatically different pre-service experiences than those of up-and-coming teacher candidates: our K-12 schooling predated contemporary emphases on standards and standardized-testing, and our teacher education programs were constrained by far fewer accountability demands. We wonder how our current students' educational worldviews will differ from those expressed by the veteran teachers in this study, and echo their insistence on analyzing and advocating for our students within an increasingly regulated field. It is not yet clear how shifting educational policies and high-stakes teacher performance assessments will impact new teachers' ability to articulate and enact justice-oriented practice. However, preliminary research isn't reassuring: a growing body of scholarship suggests these policies have a reductive impact on teacher preparation, within the field of social studies specifically (e.g., An, 2015; Au, 2013b) as well as in teacher education overall. We find this profoundly troubling, and share participants' emphasis on strategically embracing, reframing, and resisting educational policy as necessary to best advocate for our students, our colleagues, and our profession.


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