Making the Case for Critical Theory as a Theoretical Framework for a Liberatory Policy Agenda
In 1963, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
As a first-time attendee to the AACTE’s Holmes Policy Institute, I was met with theory, practice, and a new appreciation for civic engagement. My key takeaway from the Holmes Policy Short Course was for scholars of color to bridge education policy with critical praxis. In other words, we are to unapologetically interrogate the role of white supremacy and whiteness in our education policies with our dissertation research questions.
During the course, Weade James, AACTE director of development and research, reminded the Holmes Scholars that “part of being an effective education leader is being an active participant in the public policymaking process.” I was inspired by her leadership and vision to create the Holmes Policy Short Course for scholars of color—a space to train and equip advocates for education policy to navigate white supremacy in our political institutions.
The undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act:
Our coalition is deeply concerned with the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act because of its low education funding levels, its fixation on physical reopenings of school buildings, and its failure to provide direct support for professional development in online learning. The bill would provide just $70 billion in additional K-12 education stabilization funds, a figure that is far short of the $200 billion that many educational groups feel is required to meet their needs. Additionally, we are concerned that the bill would condition receipt of two-thirds of this funding to the physical reopening of school buildings. This requirement ignores recent reports showing that 95% of districts plan to offer remote instruction to some degree, with about a third planning on remote instruction exclusively. This restriction makes no sense and will only adversely impact marginalized communities, including students of color, homeless students, students in foster care, and students with disabilities.
We also must note that this bill fails to provide separate funding for a key priority: professional development for online learning. Recently released studies point to the urgent need to support educators to deliver effective and equitable learning experiences. For example, more than one-fifth of educators have not received any training as it relates to technology-based remote instruction. A separate survey shows that a majority of novice educators do not feel well-prepared to provide online learning experiences for their students, as their preparation programs had not trained them on research-based technology integration frameworks.
This article is an excerpt that originally appeared in the AACTE Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) and is co-authored by Marleen C. Pugach, Ananya M. Matewos, and Joyce Gomez-Najarro. AACTE members have free access to the articles in the JTE online archives—log in with your AACTE profile to read the full article.
Preparing teachers for social justice has long been a driving force within teacher education, reflecting a commitment to educating students from multiple social identity groups who are marginalized and oppressed in schools. Given any particular decade, specific social identity markers may take center stage in this work—with new markers gaining visibility as previously neglected identity groups begin to receive vital, much needed attention.
Alongside social justice concerns for equity regarding race, class, ethnicity, gender, language, socioeconomic status and, more recently, sexual orientation and religion, stands the question of disability. As part of the overall vision for social justice, disability is generally viewed as a key social marker of identity. Yet students with disabilities continue to be marginalized and have persistently lower academic outcomes, such as graduation rates, compared to their mainstream peers (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). The connection between social justice and disability was amplified with the emergence of the disability studies in education (DSE) movement in the 1990s, which views disability as a socially constructed phenomenon, shifting its historical definition away from an immutable individual characteristic (Baglieri et al., 2011). Furthermore, the inclusion of students with disabilities itself has long been viewed as a social justice issue (Artiles et al., 2006).
Only one week is left to register for the 2020 State Leaders Institute, September 22-23! Register by 12:00 midnight on Friday, September 18 to experience AACTE’s inaugural, virtual event for state leaders.
During this signature event, centered around promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in education, state leaders will focus on capacity building and augmenting their chapter’s impact through leadership development. Attendees will learn effective skills to engage with their governor’s office, strengthen the advocacy capacity of their state chapter and its membership, and enjoy networking opportunities with peers.
Here’s what attendees from past events had to say about the value of the State Leaders Institute:
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is hosting a monthly STEM webinar series. The September 15 event, 1:30-3:00 pm ET, will focus on STEM Teacher Preparation with an eye toward increasing diversity in the teacher corps and in student interest and agency in STEM. Speakers include ED and NSF grantees noted below. Register to receive a link to view the live broadcast and submit a question to the panel.
STEM Teacher Prep – September 15, 1:30-3:00 PM ET
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is convening its inaugural, virtual conference—the AACTE 2020 Washington Week—throughout the month of September. Today kicks off the Association’s signature advocacy event, Day on the Hill, themed “Your Voice Matters.” The annual event brings together education leaders and students from across the country to advocate for teacher preparation. Advocacy training sessions will take place September 9-10, and virtual congressional visits will be held September 15-16.
“AACTE embraces the important and essential role that advocacy and activism play in shaping the education system, not just in our society, but across the globe. AACTE members influence the trajectory of change in education,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “We gather to advocate for education, for children, for those who have no voice, and for those who have grown weary and lost hope. There is tremendous power in our collective voice.”
With the recent impact of the coronavirus and other societal issues on education, attendees will make their voice heard to congressional leaders about successful strategies to advance educator preparation and address the new challenges that schools and colleges of education face. Attendees will also advocate for effective policies that dismantle systemic racism in education; fund aid for colleges and universities in their recovery from the pandemic, and equip institutions with tools to reduce the spread of coronavirus on their campuses; as well as bipartisan efforts to strengthen school safety and liability protection.
In addition to AACTE’s Day on the Hill, other key events taking place during this year’s AACTE Washington Week include:
Holmes Policy Institute: September 8-10
AACTE’s Holmes Program brings together Scholars, coordinators, and leaders to discuss current issues such as civil rights in education, social justice, policing in schools, community-based participatory research, and mobilizing for change.
State Leaders Institute: September 22-23
AACTE’s State Leaders Institute (SLI) convenes state chapter leaders from AACTE and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) to enhance educator preparation at the state level, with a focus on ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in education.
“Washington Week covers current issues and trends impacting our classrooms, our society, and our world,” said Ann Elisabeth Larson, Ph.D., chair of the AACTE Board of Directors. “During these challenging times, it is imperative for congressional leaders to hear AACTE members’ voices about the support, funding, and policies needed to advance the work at our institutions and to move the profession forward.”
To learn more about the AACTE 2020 Washington Week, visit aacte.org, and follow what’s happening on Twitter at #AACTEWW20.
Now that technology is playing a larger role than ever before in teaching and learning, the COVID-19 Education Coalition has curated a list of resources on keeping technology systems safe, protecting student data, and promoting healthy digital decision-making in the newly released A Learning System for Privacy, Security and Digital Citizenship Infrastructure.
As a member of the COVID-19 Education Coalition, AACTE invites members to access this informational resource. It was created to do the following: understand the relationship between privacy and security as well as have models of effective practices in safeguarding student data; understand the roles, responsibilities, and rights of students in virtual learning environments; and understand the numerous stakeholders playing a role in student “data stewardship” and “digital citizenship” (i.e., teachers, administrators, parents, vendors, and the students themselves) and how their role is critical for both short- and long-term success.
After a highly successful tenure, it is time for Michigan State University to hand over the reins of AACTE’s premier publication to a new campus-based team. The Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) is a 120-page refereed scholarly publication on teacher education policy, practice, and research. It is published five times each year; the editors typically receive more than 800 articles annually, of which about 40 are published.
The JTE editor is responsible for editorial administration of the journal. This includes receiving and screening manuscripts; coordinating the blind peer-review process; substantive editing; working with authors on revisions; selecting and organizing final articles for each issue; writing an editorial; and transmitting print-ready issue copy to SAGE Publications, Inc., which provides copy editing, layout, and printing services for the journal and manages its subscription, distribution, and marketing activities.
Proposals to serve as the editorial team for JTE are due on October 1 (see this blog post for more information and a link to the RFP).
If you plan to submit a proposal, what should you be considering? A successful proposal will provide comprehensive answers to the following key questions:
AACTE has partnered with CoSN (The Consortium for School Networking) to provide school leaders with high-quality information on emerging issues and technology trends for K-12 innovation. Recently, the international advisory board of about 100 education leaders identified 15 key hurdles, accelerators, and tech enablers for schools to leverage in 2020 in order to drive innovation in K-12 education.
AACTE is proud to be a member of the advisory board for CoSN’s Driving K12 Innovation Project. The next generation of teachers and leaders are being prepared at our member institutions. In collaboration with our K-12 school district colleagues, educator preparation programs can leverage technology that supports the learning and social emotional growth of all our students.
CoSN and AACTE are committed to advancing progressive practices in the field and addressing challenges and opportunities such as data privacy and ownership, social emotional learning, and tools for privacy and safety online.
CoSN’s Driving K-12 Innovation
CoSN will issue its insights and findings from the advisory board in two individual free briefs. These publications, along with an implementation toolkit, are being released throughout 2020 to spur ongoing discussions and visibility that analyze the top hurdles, accelerators and technology enablers in K-12 education. This project is part of CoSN’s EdTechNext initiative, extending their long-standing work surrounding emerging technologies. The Driving K-12 Innovation initiative is supported by AACTE.
Rep. Bobby Scott to Deliver Keynote
Today the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) launches its inaugural virtual Washington Week by hosting the Holmes Policy Institute, an event that amplifies the voice of masters- and doctoral-level students of color on policies affecting educator preparation. Themed “Moving towards Equity through Advocacy and Policy,” this year’s Institute takes place September 8-10.
“We are thrilled to support AACTE Holmes Program students in addressing critical issues in educator preparation, such as increasing teacher diversity and equity,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., AACTE president and CEO. “This signature event offers our future teacher educators of color the tools to navigate national, state and local policies that directly impact those most-often marginalized in education systems.”
Over the course of three days, Holmes students, coordinators, and leaders throughout the country will explore best practices in education advocacy by participating in presentations and small group discussions. In response to the recent, racial unrest in the United States, several sessions will examine these issues as they relate to equity in educator preparation, including:
- Civil Rights in Education: History, Resistance and Opportunities
- Policing in Schools and Efforts to Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Community-Based Participatory Research to Achieve Social Justice
The Holmes Policy Institute will culminate with a closing keynote address by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. Throughout his 14 terms representing Virginia’s third congressional district, the congressman has been a champion on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and has advanced policies addressing the equity gaps in education. Following his keynote remarks, Rep. Scott will engage in an interactive discussion with the Holmes students about the state of public education, educator preparation, and the importance of diversifying the educator workforce.
Next week, a number of Holmes students will apply what they learn and put their advocacy skills into practice during AACTE’s Day on the Hill event, joining the Association’s state leaders in virtual meetings with Congressional representatives.
COVID-19 has created unprecedented obstacles to learning, for educators, school administrators and parents/caregivers. Yet even in the face of this disruption, educators and families have found innovative ways to keep learning going and help our kids succeed.
To recognize these heroic efforts, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) will present the Everyday Champion Award for outstanding achievements in remote learning during the 2020 Pandemic. NCLD will honor three courageous and innovative, educators, administrators and parents/caregivers, who have done an outstanding job helping children with learning and attention issues through this time of remote learning.
NCLD will give three awards, each in the amount of $5,000.00. We’ll present these awards to one educator, one administrator, and one parent/caregiver. The recipients of the 2020 NCLD Everyday Champion Award will be honored at NCLD’s Annual Benefit, virtually, in December.
Nominations may be made by any parent, teacher, community members, or administrator by submitting an application for NCLD’s Everyday Champion Award. The award descriptions and schedule are below:
This article originally appeared on the California State University, Fullerton new site and is reprinted with permission.
California State Fullerton’s College of Education faculty members are rising up to promote anti-racist teaching and learning.
In response to African Americans killed by police across the country and the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infections among Black and Latinx communities, the Department of Secondary Education is offering a free webinar series this fall semester to address underlying racist policies and practices that exist in schools, said Natalie Tran, chair of secondary education and professor of educational leadership.
The webinars, open to teachers, teacher candidates, faculty, and community members, focus on dismantling racist policies, practices and ideas that influence schools, teachers and children, and most importantly, on taking actions that address anti-racist teaching.
The following article is an excerpt of a transcribed podcast interview on the GoReact blog with AACTE board member Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, who serves as the assistant vice chancellor of Educator Preparation and Public School Programs for California State University (CSU). Grenot-Scheyer also sits on the board of directors for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. In this episode, she discusses her experience in special education as well as CSU’s exciting initiatives and research.
When did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your career to teaching students with disabilities?
Grenot-Scheyer: I don’t think I realized it until I was a freshman in college, but my mother always reminded me that I talked about wanting to be a teacher from a very young age, and I just have no recollection of that. But my freshman year in college, at California State University, Los Angeles, I had an incredible field experience with some really complex and endearing young people. And that just set the path forward for what I wanted to do.
How Special Education Has Changed Over Time
So, as you mentioned, you began working with students with disabilities in the 1970s. What was it like to do special education at that time, and how has it changed since then?
Grenot-Scheyer: So when I began my career as a special educator, students with disabilities were predominantly served in isolated, segregated schools and classrooms. So that is, all students with disabilities in one facility. And so my first clinical experience was in a segregated school in a small community in Los Angeles, where students with the most challenging behavioral and physical and developmental abilities were all clustered together. And at the time, the feeling and the research said that was the best way to provide services to kids with disabilities. We now know, decades later, based upon research, based upon federal and state laws, that in fact, the best place to educate students with disabilities is in regular schools, alongside typically-developing peers. So the service delivery models have changed dramatically in some schools and in some communities, but in other schools and communities, students with disabilities are still being served in segregated settings. But we now know that’s not the best way to do it.
This article originally appeared on the EdPepLab blog and is reprinted with permission.
As U.S. schools closed their doors this past spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a little-considered effect was the impact of school closures on the preparation of the next generation of educators. Teacher and leader candidates all over the country had their field experiences abruptly cut short, and educator preparation programs (EPPs)—in partnership with school districts and state education agencies—had to adapt quickly to ensure candidates continued to receive high-quality preparation and were able to complete their licensure requirements.
As districts begin to enact school opening plans, EPPs are building off of lessons learned from the spring as they engage candidates in equity-centered, deeper learning preparation. LPI has been in discussion with members of EdPrepLab—a network of programs working to continuously improve and share their practices—to better understand how they’re responding to this unusual time. Three themes have emerged as guiding their strategy and practices moving forward:
- Focusing on core program strengths
- Shifting from crisis mode toward innovation
- Capitalizing on innovations to strengthen educator preparation after COVID-19
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
This article orginially appeared in University Business and is reprinted with persmission.
We are living in a monumental moment in time. The unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others call for greater social justice and equity in our society. While many institutions of higher education and educator preparation programs are talking about equity in education and the need for actionable change, having a deep passion and a meaningful, verbal commitment to social justice is not enough. We cannot move the needle forward in creating a more equitable education system until we address the root areas where change needs to happen—implicit, institutional, and systemic biases.
The data is clear. We live in a more segregated society now than the past 30 to 40 years. When students are segregated in elementary, middle and high school, they may not have any meaningful interactions over a long period of time with people who are different from them. When students graduate from high school and enter into a teacher preparation program, they could potentially complete their entire program without ever having a faculty of color.
Candidates have not adequately learned about racism in America, and they do not possess the context to understand the frustration and anger that underrepresented minorities feel. Students may be offered a gratuitous multiculturalism course in which they superficially learn about diversity, but do not learn about critical race theory, cultural responsiveness and proficiency as a standard part of the curriculum. They may never receive the opportunity to confront their own implicit biases, and then are placed in a classroom full of children with cultural backgrounds that they simply do not understand. From the lens of the children in the classroom, they do not see a teacher who looks like them or that they can relate to, and therefore, they are not drawn to pursuing a career in education.