This article originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.
The COVID-19 pandemic shed a harsh light on the systemic inequities in schools and communities. If we believe schools are the epicenter to dismantle racism and inequities, then we must examine our role as teacher educators to address these issues of inequality. How can we use this inflection point to positively and substantively change educator preparation?
Both at the system level and on individual campuses, colleges of education must ensure that programs prepare graduates to enter the teaching profession ready to advocate for and implement racial and social justice and advance the transformation of inequitable structures in schools. The pandemic has opened a window into the complexities of the teaching and learning process, which has resulted in greater collaboration among educators and families. As we move forward, we must ensure that candidates’ dispositions reflect and respect the importance of collaboration with students, families, and educational colleagues.
Female leaders throughout history have made significant contributions to societal advancement, in such areas as the civil rights movement and education reform. Yet to this day, women still fight for equity, be it in the boardroom or the classroom. However, the good news is this occurs less often within the educational ecosystem today.
Is equity the norm within educational leadership?
I am a Mexican-American woman, a teacher, and a first generation college student. Therefore, I approach my work from many perspectives using different lenses, and my gender is but one part of my journey. I have had many opportunities in my career to provide leadership at different levels of educational institutions, reflecting what I believe to be a trend in the last decade, where more and more women have assumed leadership positions in educational institutions. Take for example the system in which I am a leader: The California State University. We have 23 campuses and the majority of our presidents are female. And while I can’t single out my gender from my other identities as a leader, what I can tell you is that women continue to make a difference in the field because of their passionate dedication to better education for all.