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Teacher Roles in Correction: Understanding Disciplinary Alternative School Programs in Nebraska

Philip Thomas White, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Through semi-structured interviews with teachers and semi-structured interviews-turned-testimonios of students, I have sought to understand the purposes and consequences of Disciplinary Alternative Programs (DAP). Four different locations from across the state of Nebraska were utilized with 16 teachers and two students participating. Research questions considered the purpose of DAPs to better understand how these programs fit into broader systems of schooling. While highly cautious IRB oversight limited the number of students who could be participants in this study, their insights were substantially augmented by the sixteen educators from such environments who were also interviewed. Participant responses offered nuanced and detailed descriptions of where responsibility lay for the intended purpose of these programs. They also led me to coin a new term—“orthopediature,” which borrows from but differs from Foucault’s moral orthopedics—to name the prevailing perspective of DAP educators that both explained why DAP students had been removed from more traditional educational environments and guided their behavioral correction and retraining ‘pedagogy’. DAP teachers were technicians of correction. Student perspectives contrasted in important ways with that of their educators, so I use the strategy of ‘testimonio’ to have them describe their experiences as much as possible in their own terms. While students in this arrangement not surprisingly describe some frustration and resentment, the DAP teachers also note a kind of personal entrapment, which ultimately lays out a dilemma: DAPs may not be the liberatory spaces we hope research would reveal, a point teachers and students both have insight about, but the prospect of how to change/improve the system (and have it better serve youth) remains elusive to those who actually populate and enact it.

Subject Area

Education|Education Policy|American studies|Special education

Recommended Citation

White, Philip Thomas, "Teacher Roles in Correction: Understanding Disciplinary Alternative School Programs in Nebraska" (2024). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI31293263.