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Given the deleterious effects on students and teachers caused by ever-expanding neoliberal approaches to K-16 English Language Arts and literacy education policy, this dissertation argues effective policy advocacy and reform absolutely depends on collaborations among secondary ELA and postsecondary composition and English education teacher-scholars. Borrowing from the traditions of participant action research, this project traces the experiences of a small group of secondary and postsecondary English educators across the span of a 16-month collaborative advocacy project. By examining a range of data including recordings of group meetings, interviews, and written reflections through the lens of activity theory, this study seeks to better understand the barriers to and possibilities of this kind of cross-level advocacy. Findings specifically suggest that approaching cross-level collaborations with activity theory in mind can help us better anticipate and mitigate the way participants’ involvement in diverse teaching and professional contexts can pose challenges to cross-level advocacy efforts. The study’s findings, however, further suggest the ways in which participants’ diverse experiences also function as an asset to this work, enabling richer conversation and more effective advocacy efforts. Based on these findings, this dissertation concludes by offering several recommendations for cross-level collaborative advocacy efforts, including the increased development of informal advocacy-centered cross-level teacher-scholar communities.
Advisor: Debbie Minter