The following article by AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie T. Fenwick is reprinted with permission from Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, 2020.
Dear Generation Z Students,
You are digital natives. So, this letter would better reach you by video, Instagram, Snapchat, maybe Twitter or a hashtag. But I need more letter characters and time than these platforms allow.
Please bear with me as you read. I warn you: First, my history recitation may seem unrelated but stick with me. Second, you might be tempted to read my analysis of White male power as a screed against all White males. It is not.
Did you learn about Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg in your history class? I’d like you to consider this battle as a metaphor for what you’re witnessing now with the murders of George Floyd, a truck driver and bar bouncer laid off due to the COVID pandemic; Breonna Taylor, an EMT and emergency room tech; Ahmaud Arbery, an avid jogger; and, the assault of Christian Cooper, a Harvard grad and bird watcher victimized by a White woman who used an old, violent trick – call the police and lie about being attacked by a Black man .
General George Pickett (known as the Lost Cause General of the Confederate South) fought a losing battle on July 3, 1863. Pickett and his all White male brigade were fighting to maintain an apartheid south built on the brutalizing, free labor of enslaved African men, women, and children. Pickett moved well above the Mason-Dixon Line and took about 12,000 Confederate soldiers straight into the heart of Union territory, Pennsylvania.
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.
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.
The Abolitionist Teaching Network recently released a Guide for Racial Justice and Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Founded by educators and activists, the Network’s mission is to develop and support educators to fight injustice in their schools and communities.
The Guide for Racial Justice and Abolitionist SEL seeks to engage teachers and administrators in critical reflection and action to address the injustices that impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and families. It also challenges educators to abandon the Eurocentric approach of SEL that promotes the use of school resource officers and exclusionary discipline practices. Instead, educators are encouraged to adopt abolitionist practices of SEL that are culturally responsive, reciprocal in nature, transformative and centered on healing.
The guide also accentuates the important role of educator preparation programs to prepare more Black, Brown, and Indigenous teachers, school counselors and administrators. Research consistently suggest that all students benefit from having diverse educators, including increased academic and social emotional outcomes. Diverse educators also have unique attributes that can break down racial stereotypes, and an innate ability to affirm Black, Brown, and Indigenous students’ sense of belonging.
Read more about the guide and resources to promote anti-racist teaching and learning.
Meet Maria, a Mexican American student who entered school with a suitcase full of treasures—including her culture, family traditions, and experiences. She called her suitcase a maleta. Her teachers made it clear that her maleta was not welcome. While she was never explicitly told to leave her treasures at the classroom door, through their curricula, instruction, and assessment practices, her teachers made it known that her culture did not and have value and would hinder her learning. They gave her a new maleta, one filled with the U.S. culture; they believed this maleta would serve her better. As a result, she felt deep shame over the most essential elements of her humanity.
I am Maria—and to this day, I feel the pain of my teachers stealing my humanity.
Teacher evaluation at the center of inequity
Today, our nation is focused on inequities in our education and justice systems. While many school districts and universities have released diversity and social justice statements, the harsh reality remains that some areas within our education system are obstructions to racial equity in our schools—including teacher evaluation tools. This negligence has a profound, lifelong impact on culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners. It is time for education leaders to challenge white supremacy and racial bias in teacher evaluation.
This article originally appeared on The Seattle Times website and is reprinted with permission.
We see in our nation today the devastating repercussions of white supremacy and systemic racism practiced against communities of color for generations. It’s a grievous offense that our educational systems, which possess a duty to help every child achieve their full potential, often act as instruments to deny this opportunity to all.
As educators of color with decades of experience teaching and leading, we know that education is central to the elimination of racism in society and a more just future for all of us. Education can disrupt entrenched biases. It can amplify our communities’ stories of strength, and achievement and be a force for liberation and self-determination.
While there are many actions we can and should take at every level of our educational systems, the evidence is clear what our first priority must be: investing in a more racially diverse educator workforce.
Here in Washington state, half of K-12 students in public schools are youth of color. Yet only 11% of teachers are.
The theme of the Third Annual New Jersey Convening on Diversifying the Teacher Workforce is “Leadership for Diversity: Creating Culturally Responsive Recruitment, Instructional Practice and Retention Strategies.”
The New Jersey Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Convening, co-sponsored by Rutgers University Graduate School of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and the New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is intended to address the serious need to increase the diversity of the New Jersey teaching population and increase culturally responsive practices in the state. This meeting is designed to engage stakeholders and constituents in New Jersey in considering the barriers and supports to diversifying the teacher workforce to increase our numbers of culturally responsive practitioners and to develop culturally responsive practices among New Jersey’s educators. This convening will also provide opportunities for participants to learn about promising and successful efforts to increase teacher diversity in New Jersey and for growing and sustaining culturally responsive educators.
As part of a three-part Answering the Call to Action: Culturally Affirming Webinar Series, member institution Howard University College of Education will present its third session: “How Educators can use their Sphere of Influence to Decolonize the Classroom” on Wednesday, August 5, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
In addition to an overview on decolonization, the webinar offers three breakout sessions, which registrants will select in advance:
- Break Out Session 1: Anti-racist Education Through People’s History (A mini-lesson)
Deborah Menkart, Teaching for Change
- Break Out Session 2: Conducting Equity Audits
Karmen Rouland, MAEC
- Break Out Session 3: Building a coalition through Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools
Denisha Jones, Sarah Lawrence College
The Answering the Call to Action series also included Session 1: “Using Your Leadership in Being the Change That You Want to See,” designed for Educational Leaders and session 2: “Strengthening Mental Health Outcomes by Decolonizing Practices,” designed for School Psychologists and School Counselors.
This article originally appeared on the University of Washington website and is reprinted with permission.
When Professor Geneva Gay began her career as a high school social studies teacher more than four decades ago, the concept of multicultural education was still in its infancy. No university had even started offering a doctoral program in the field.
This July, Gay will retire following a 29-year career at the University of Washington College of Education in which her internationally-recognized scholarship has advanced the field in profound ways — while making clear the essential role of multicultural education in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.
In Part 2 of this Q&A feature, AACTE consultant Jane West, a former teacher with a doctorate in special education and 30 years of policy experience in the nation’s capital, and Holmes Program Alumna Ashley L. White, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin and 2019-20 Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow, share their mentoring/mentee relationship and how it has evolved over time to address race. (Read Part 1.)
Q: Describe a good white ally.
White: This is not an all-encompassing definition and I am not the monolithic expert—I am speaking from my experiences in dealing with White people all my life, some who get it and many who do not. Allies of any kind have to accept the reality of system and practices that have put them in a position of privilege while disenfranchising others (e.g., the notion of heterosexuality or “able-bodies” as superior forms of existence). Allies must value the whole over the self. Allies must recognize that if one suffers, all suffer, even if not immediately. Allies must embrace their ignorance and lack of understanding in order to counteract these.
As it pertains to the subject of racism in society, racism in education, White allies have to accept the reality of racism in every system and they also have to accept that no matter the topic, particularly as it relates to education, issues of race cement long-standing inequities that cannot be resolved without centering the issues of race. In other words, White allies don’t avoid our country’s foundation, which is built upon individual and systematic racism for the gain of the dominant class. White allies must learn to be quiet when Black and Brown folks are speaking about their experiences and perspectives. White allies must learn not to interrupt and to question themselves, especially when they feel defensive, undermined, or fearful. White allies have to stop hiding behind rhetoric of equity and understanding when their actions demonstrate the very opposite. White allies have to be willing to ask questions, not to prove they are right, but because they know they are wrong.