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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Review of Education, a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published online and edited by students from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley Review of Education engages issues of educational diversity and equity within cognitive, developmental, sociohistorical, linguistic, and cultural contexts. The BRE encourages submissions on research and theory from senior and emerging scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. To submit a paper, please click on "Submit article to this journal" in the side bar.

Volume 2 Issue 2 2011

Issue cover

Editors' Introduction

Editors’ Introduction

Introduction to Volume 2, Issue 2.


Artifactual Critical Literacy: A New Perspective for Literacy Education

In this article, we propose a framework for literacy education, called artifactual critical literacy, which unites a material cultural studies approach together with critical literacy education. Critical literacy is a field that addresses imbalances of power and, in particular, pays attention to the voices of those who are less frequently heard. When critical literacy education is joined with a material cultural studies approach, which holds that cultural “stuff” (Miller, 2010) matters as a form of expression and also as embedded cultural practice, literacy practices such as hip hop and vernacular literacies are then given more attention alongside canonical texts. Stories connected to objects and home experience can provide a platform and starting point for text-making. Text-making can also be set within a framework that is multimodal and allows for a much wider concept of meaning making. In this article wecombine practical examples with a new theoretical framework that brings these traditions together.

Is Choice a Panacea? An Analysis of Black Secondary Student Attrition from KIPP, Other Private Charters, and Urban Districts

Public concern about pervasive inequalities in traditional public schools, combined with growing political, parental, and corporate support, has created the expectation that charter schools are the solution for educating minorities, particularly Black youth. There is a paucity of research on the educational attainment of Black youth in privately operated charters, particularly on the issue of attrition. This paper finds that on average peer urban districts in Texas show lower incidence of Black student dropouts and leavers relative to charters. The data also show that despite the claims that 88-90% of the children attending KIPP charters go on to college, their attrition rate for Black secondary students surpasses that of their peer urban districts. And this is in spite of KIPP spending 30–60% more per pupil than comparable urban districts. The analyses also show that the vast majority of privately operated charter districts in Texas serve very few Black students.

The “West” in Literacy

This paper analyzes a construct that, while pervasive, is not often questioned or defined in literacy studies: the “West.” Through a review of pertinent literature, I explore the ways in which problematical assumptions have undergirded its unqualified use in literacy theory. What is the “West,” who is it, in literacy research? I argue against the assumption of “unmarkedness” of the “West” and some derived terms along three axes: by bringing attention to the geographicalspatial dimension of the construct, through the problematization of the alphabet, and by highlighting the colonial inheritance of the construct. My analysis explores some fundamental biases in the notion of "West," and invites its reassessment to arrive at a more particular and critically rigorous stance in literacy scholarship.