Keeping the Freedom to Include: Teachers Navigating “Pushback” and Marshalling “Backup” to Keep Inclusion on the Agenda

By Mica Pollock, Reed Kendall, Erika Reece, Dolores Lopez, & Mariko Yoshisato

Background/Context: This paper shares K12 educators’ efforts to marshal local support for the act of basic inclusion: welcoming all communities as equally valuable. We share data from a national pilot of #USvsHate (, an educator- and student-led “anti-hate” messaging project. In interviews, participating educators revealed careers of “pushback” against even their basic efforts to include (mention or empathize with) marginalized populations. They also shared five key forms of “backup” they had learned to marshal to keep such topics on the agenda. Building on scholarship positioning basic and deeper inclusion work as the unarguable task of schools, we explore how keeping the freedom to undertake even basic inclusion efforts requires teachers to preserve agency through assembling local backup — supports from other people.

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