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America’s Colleges for Teacher Education Gather in Atlanta

AACTE Conference Addresses How to Disrupt Inequities in Education

AACTE20 participants

Nearly 2,000 teacher educators kicked off the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis yesterday. The conference, themed “Disrupting Inequities: Educating for Change,” is being held February 28 – March 1. Attendees include deans, faculty, students, and administrators from undergraduate and graduate education programs, community colleges, and K-12 schools, as well as representatives from state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and foundations.

America’s educator preparation community is keenly aware of and uniquely positioned to change the systemic challenges occurring in PK-16 environments that serve the nation’s most vulnerable populations—students of color, students with disabilities, students from immigrant families, students from low-income families, and LGBTQ students. Under its 2020 theme, the AACTE conference offers attendees hundreds of concurrent sessions that explore how to redefine the meaning of success for all students and encourage them to become active learners, productive citizens, critical thinkers, and leaders in their communities and across the globe.

“We see people of color, students with disabilities, and individuals from low-income communities disproportionally impacted through unequal access to high quality teachers. We see administrators, counselors, and psychologists mobilized to address issues related to trauma, whether that be trauma from the home, or from yet another school shooting. And, we see apathy and complacency once again allowing de facto segregation to occur along racial, geographic, and socio-economic lines,” said AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone in her welcoming address. “But the realities we face today do not have to be the future our children experience. We know, and firmly believe, that teacher educators can obstruct injustice and challenge the dominant ideology and majoritarian narratives. We can enhance the learning and development of all students. That’s why all of us have come to Atlanta.”

The sessions are organized into four strands:

  • Equity and Inclusivity in Preparation and Practice
  • Activism and Innovation for Transforming Democracy
  • Establishing Sustainable and Diverse Profession
  • Clinical Practice and Community Engagement

The opening session featured a keynote address by renowned academic, lecturer, and author Robin DiAngelo, whose 2018 book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List.

“Racism is a system, not an event. The system is not interrupted by kindness. It takes strategic anti-racist action,” said DiAngelo during her keynote. “White people are on a continuum and must ask themselves at any given moment how am I doing with anti-racist behavior.”

The 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, will present the Closing Keynote address on Sunday, March 1. A 19-year teaching veteran, Robinson is noted for successfully developing alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

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