Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

School Principals’ Perceptions on Ebonics and Black English in Houston, TX
Garrard McClendon, Ph.D; Cynthia Valenciano, Ph.D.

This study investigated school principals’ individual and aggregate perceptions of students who use African American Vernacular English in Houston, TX. Using the African American English Teacher Attitude Scale (AAETAS), the study seeks to describe the relationship between principals’ demographic characteristics and their perceptions of African American Vernacular English. The study used raw scores from the AAETAS instrument created by Hoover, McNair-Knox, Lewis and Politzer (1997) and coded the principals’ perceptions of AAVE. Principals’ demographic information was gathered on the following categories: race, gender, age, language and dialect use of subjects, school enrollment, years teaching, years as an administrator, total employment years, and the aggregate mean of all principals’ scores. These categories assist in highlighting perceptions and expectations among demographics. The results show an overall attitude of difference and mild acceptance. Four of the 44 principals (9.1%) had a negative or deficit attitude toward AAVE. Thirty-two principals (72.7%) were in the “Difference” category, meaning that listeners view AAVE as different and not necessarily negative. “Excellence” is a strong positive attitude towards AAVE. Eight out of 44 (18.2%) principals were in this category. Because this is a qualitative study, the principals’ responses have been explained through narrative. About 18% of school principals in this study indicated that the dialect could be harmful to one’s academic career, and they perceived AAVE as a dialect they would prefer students not use.

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