Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2019 Issue »

    “A Positive, Safe Environment”

    Urban Arts High Schools and the Safety Mystique

    In this research article, Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández and Dominique Rivière examine the discursive frames that students and teachers in four specialized arts high schools in Toronto used in describing their schools as safe environments. The belief that arts high schools are safe is shared by students and teachers, particularly in relationship to LGBTTQ+ students, making these schools optimal settings for examining what safety means and how it is construed. The authors show how the assumption that arts high schools are safe is related to the larger social and cultural context in which each school is situated. By asking what it means to be safe, whose safety, and from what dangers, they aim to demystify the notion of safety, showing how it is related to dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that can be traced to broader national discourses. Drawing on critical race theory, as well as the concept of homonationalism and the construction of exalted subjects, the article highlights the remarkably similar discourses through which both arts high schools and the liberal nation-state are construed as safe.

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    Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández is a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the relationship between culture and inequality and addresses questions of symbolic boundaries and the dynamics of cultural production and processes of identification in educational contexts. His theoretical work focuses on the relationship between cultural production, decolonization, and solidarity. He is the author of The Best of the Best: Becoming Elite at an American Boarding School (Harvard University Press, 2009) and coeditor (with Amelia M. Kraehe and B. Stephen Carpenter II) of The Palgrave Handbook of Race and the Arts in Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

    Dominique Rivière received her PhD in 2006 from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, where she worked as a researcher and lecturer for several years before taking up positions in government and the nonprofit sector. Her work continues to cross the academic/nonacademic boundary and focuses primarily on equity and diversity within and across various learning contexts. Her recent publications include articles in the Journal of Arts and Humanities and Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies
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    Fall 2019 Issue


    Money over Merit?
    Socioeconomic Gaps in Receipt of Gifted Services
    Jason A. Grissom, Christopher Redding, and Joshua F. Bleiberg

    Book Notes

    Borders of Belonging
    Heide Castañeda

    Under Pressure
    Lisa Damour

    Awakening Democracy Through Public Work
    Harry C. Boyte, with contributions from Marie Ström, Isak Tranvik, Tami Moore, Susan O’Connor, and Donna Patterson

    The Privileged Poor
    Anthony Abraham Jack

    The Human Side of Changing Education
    Julie M. Wilson, foreword by Arthur Levine