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UND Historian of Education Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz wins ‘Outstanding Book Award’

Award from Society of Professors of Education honors author, whose writing also has appeared in The Washington Post and elsewhere

Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, a UND historian of education and social policy, has won the Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award for 2021.

Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz

Last year, D’Amico Pawlewicz, an assistant professor of Education, Health & Behavior at UND, released “Blaming Teachers: Professionalization Policies and the Failure of Reform in American History,” published by Rutgers University Press.

In “Blaming Teachers,” D’Amico Pawlewicz explores how professionalization reforms, from the 1800s to the present day, subverted rather than enhanced public school teachers’ professional legitimacy. In fact, the reforms left teachers with the worst of both worlds, in that teachers are held responsible as professionals for the problems of public schools, but are denied the professional and managerial authority that they’d need to solve those problems.

It’s “a Sisyphean irony,” as the book describes: “Superficially, professionalism connotes authority, expertise and status, but public school teachers never gained from the so-called professionalization initiatives that surrounded them.”

Since the book’s publication, D’Amico Pawlewicz has been quoted extensively about its theme, including when she took part in a podcast conversation with Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers. Her columns on the history of education have appeared in the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other newspapers.

The Society of Professors of Education was founded in 1902 as a professional academic association. Founding members included education reformer John Dewey and Charles DeGarmo, Swarthmore College president, Cornell University education professor and prolific author of more than 100 articles and books about educational theory and practice.

‘Blaming Teachers’ cover

The Society’s goal is “to provide a forum for consideration of major issues, tasks, problems, and challenges confronting professional educators,” according to the Society’s website. And with that goal in mind, the Society offers its Outstanding Book Award each year.

Books must be nominated by a Society member and then reviewed by a committee of five people from the society.

“This award is a testament to the impact that Dr. D’Amico Pawlewicz’s book is making on the discussion about teacher policy and reform,” said C. Casey Ozaki, Chair of the Department of Education, Health & Behavior Studies at UND’s College of Education & Human Development.

“Not only does it reflect the excellence of her scholarship, but the ways that historical research generates questions and interrogation about current day practice among decision-makers, policy drivers, and scholars.”

For her part, D’Amico Pawlewicz said that the feeling she most wants to express about the award is gratitude.

“The award celebrates a range of truly impressive books by first-rate scholars, and it is an honor and a thrill to be in such wonderful company,” D’Amico Pawlewicz said.

“That people are reading, enjoying, discussing, and thinking about the book means the world to me.”

The award will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Professors of Education, which will be held virtually on April 10.