Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District

  • Katherine Crawford-Garrett University of New Mexico
  • Kathleen Riley West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Keywords: teacher resistance, teacher inquiry, neoliberal reform


This paper describes two cases of teacher inquiry communities that met regularly in Philadelphia during 2010-2011, a time when the school district was implementing a series of neoliberal reforms. One community was comprised of veteran teachers while the other consisted of Teach for America corps members in their first year of teaching. The authors analyze the work of the two groups through the lens of feminist practice to illustrate the ways in which the teachers drew on three types of counter-mandates- autobiographical, social justice, and textual- to resist top-down, autocratic mandates. The authors conclude by discussing implications for practitioner and researchers who are working to open up spaces of possibility for students and teachers in these times.

Author Biographies

Katherine Crawford-Garrett, University of New Mexico
Assistant Professor
Teacher Education
Kathleen Riley, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Assistant Professor
Literacy Department