On November 19, AACTE held its inaugural virtual Town Hall featuring an interactive discussion on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education with six leading educators: Marvin Lynn, Ph.D., dean and professor, College of Education, Portland State University; Kimberly White-Smith, Ed.D., dean, La Fetra College of Education and Professor, University of La Verne; Lisa Norton, Ed.D., dean, College of Education and Health Sciences, Touro University, California; Jesse Perez Mendez, Ph.D., dean, College of Education, Texas Tech University; John Henning, Ph.D., dean, School of Education, Monmouth University; and Jacob Easley II, Ph.D., dean, Graduate School of Education, Touro College. During the session, the panelists addressed the integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on CRT as well as questions posed by the audience.
As the moderator, Mendez guided the conversation beginning with an explanation of CRT. “Please define Critical Race Theory and explain its tenets and brief history in education,” he said. Lynn responded, “Critical Race Theory is defined as a historical analysis and critique of racism and white supremacy. It’s an analysis of racism and white supremacy in the law and society that really uses relevant examples of case law, public policy, popular culture and critical historical events that are designed to draw attention to the way in which the law is racially constituted.” Lynn said, “And then we can think about critical race theory as an interdisciplinary critical theoretical method that’s taken up again chiefly by legal scholars. It draws on fields of sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, and women’s studies to put forward a critique, a broad, systemic critique of race and racism as a key axis of power in the United States and around the world.”
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
The Senate returns to town today after Thanksgiving recess. Most pressing is the December 11 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile pressure to address an out-of-control pandemic with a fiscal relief bill does not appear to be in sight. And President Trump continues to challenge the outcome of the Presidential election.
The 116th Congress Moves Toward a Shaky Finish
Progress with finalizing the FY 2021 spending bill is underway, but the outcome is far from certain. The four corners (Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate) have been meeting and appear to be in agreement on top line spending numbers. The four corners also agree that they want a bill. President Trump remains a wild card.
One of four outcomes is possible: 1) Congress completes all the funding bills by December 11 and the President signs them into law; 2) Congressional negotiators are making good progress by December 11 and extend the current level of funding for a week or so while they continue to negotiate; 3) Congress passes a temporary funding measure through March or so, essentially punting decision-making into the next Congress; 4) Congress passes a bill before the end of the year and the President refuses to sign it causing a government shutdown. My money is on number 2. Congress is notorious for stretching out finalization of bills right up until the Christmas break. It’s hard to imagine a government shutdown—even in the midst of the craziness these days—that seems a bridge too far.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions of higher education have experienced various challenges, including transitions to online learning and adaptations to the delivery of campus services. Students, faculty, and staff alike have navigated feelings of anxiety and stress amid these uncertain times. Further, students that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are navigating two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. This reality presents an important question: How are university systems working to address racial injustice and support BIPOC students?
On Monday November 2, 2020, the College of Education (COE) Student Achievement Council (SAC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) collaborated with AACTE’s Holmes Scholars Program and the COE Diversity Committee to host a student outreach event with the purpose of addressing the aforementioned question. The three-part virtual presentation consisted of a welcome from COE Dean Stephen Silverman, a panel discussion with FAU’s Holmes Scholars, and an open discussion with all attendees of the event.
Facilitated by a panel of education deans, this open forum will examine and discuss the integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on Critical Race Theory, as well as ways to resist attacks on institutions’ efforts centered around this work. You are invited to join your colleagues and share challenges and success stories about your efforts to address race, equity, and social justice during these challenging times including the following topics:
- The challenges EPPs face in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives because of the federal ruling and COVID-19
- How EPPs can resist the recent attacks on institutions’ work and impact centered on Critical Race Theory
- Success stories of EPPs’ work in Critical Race Theory since the federal ruling and COVID-19
If there is one thing we can all agree on, 2020 has been a year like no other. To learn how COVID-19 and the racial injustice crisis have impacted educator preparation—and the steps EPPs are taking in response—AACTE conducted a survey this fall of its members. Here are a just a few of the findings:
- More than half of the respondents are using instructional designers to help faculty create online courses, and 75% have made new tools available such as simulations and video libraries.
- Only have of respondents reported that their state had modified or waived performance assessment requirements due to COVID-19.
- 60% of respondents reported declines in undergraduate enrollment.
- 70% of respondents have recently increased their investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
In a recent article, “To Tackle Critical Theory in the K–12 Classroom, Start with Colleges of Education,” the author shares the view of someone who opposes training teacher candidates in critical race theory. AACTE Board member John Henning, dean of the School of Education at Monmouth University, refutes these opposing views and explains the value of including CRT work in education preparation programs.
The author of the article states that critical race theory (CRT) “amounts to an unremitting attack on all of America’s norms and traditions.” How would you respond to this statement?
The purpose of critical race theory is to examine the role of race and racism in society. And it is helpful for raising awareness so that we can identify the existence of structural racism. It is not part of the curriculum; its purpose is not to question American norms and traditions. However, because racism is widely acknowledged to still exist in the United States, it can cause us to reflect both on our past and current practices. But it should be remembered that it is a theory, and, like all theories, it can be accepted partially, mostly, or fully. It is appropriate for teacher preparation programs to discuss this theory as part of their coursework because of the increasing racial diversity in schools. Most teachers are White females (around 80%) and critical race theory provides teachers, whether they are White or another race, with perspectives that allow them to gain insights into their students.
How are education leaders responding to the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice? What can we learn from each other and how can AACTE best support its members as they navigate these unprecedented times? A webinar on Wednesday, November 18 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET will feature the results of AACTE’s recent member survey and reactions from leaders in the field of educator preparation.
Register today for the AACTE Town Hall on Critical Race Theory on November 19 at 3:00 p.m. -4:00 p.m. EST. Critical Race Theory provides a lens to understand race, racism, oppression, and power in America. Join the AACTE Town Hall on the integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on Critical Race Theory and discuss ways to resist recent federal attacks on institutions’ efforts centered on this work. Bring your voice to the AACTE open forum and share challenges and success stories about your efforts to address race, equity, and social justice during these challenging times.
This podcast interview features insights from the article “Education Policy and Black Teachers: Perspectives on Race, Policy, and Teacher Diversity” by Terrenda White, Brian Woodward, DaVonna Graham, H. Richard Milner, and Tyrone C. Howard. The article is published in the September/October 2020 of the Journal of Teacher Education. AACTE members have free access to the articles in the JTE online archives—log in with your AACTE profile.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today urging educators to resist the Trump administration’s attack on critical race theory and other anti-racism work in education:
“In its June 4 statement, the AACTE Board of Directors called educators to take courageous action on race matters in America to address not only recent racial injustices across the nation but also structural racism that has deep, historic roots in our society. Critical race theory represents the scholarly work of educators who provide research evidence and expertise on how the legacy of slavery and inequality in America has unequivocally influenced our American way of life, including our system of education, and on effective ways to dismantle structural racism in American society. It has long been the focus of scholars across many disciplines, which has contributed to the great strides institutions have made in advancing human and civil rights for all Americans.
Banning federal funds to be used for professional development that addresses topics like white privilege, implicit bias, and structural racism, which are examined within critical race theory, is a denial of the historic realities of our country, and is an assault on the strategic gains institutions of higher education and educator preparation programs have made to enlighten students and affect change that promotes racial and social justice for all. Educators must resist any setbacks to the many years of research and activism scholars have made to progress our nation into a society that values the lives of all human beings.
AACTE and its member institutions are committed to revolutionizing education by upholding high standards in the preparation of future teachers through inclusive curriculum and evidence-based instructional strategies, modeling, and advocacy that dismantle racial oppression. AACTE members are actively working to diversify the teaching profession, address the teacher shortage, redesign curricula that reflects the needs of 21st century learners, advocate for policies that fund student teachers of color, and build social justice partnerships for strengthening the education community—all in a concerted effort to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in PK-20 education. Critical race theory is at the foundation of this vital work. AACTE calls on educators and the educator preparation community to stay the course and to actively support the work of critical race theorists and other anti-racism efforts for building a more racially just society.
AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs and partners dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The 700 member institutions include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at aacte.org.
AACTE members took action when the Trump administration issued an attack on critical race theory two months ago. In its blistering critique of anti-racist initiatives, the Administration essentially banned work on critical race theory in use of professional development funded by federal dollars. In partnership with Education Deans for Justice and Equity, AACTE members united in a written response signed by over 400 scholars of race in education, led by Marvin Lynn, dean and professor of the college of education at Portland State University. The memo is as follows:
Critical Race Theory in Education Scholars Respond to Executive Memo M-20-34
On September 4, 2020, Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Executive Office of the President issued M-20-34, a “memorandum for the heads of executive offices and agencies.” The document states, “Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars, to date, on ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.” As critical race scholars working in universities and communities across the globe, the following statement is our response to Mr. Vought’s memorandum.
“We are more than test scores.” That was the refrain I heard from my social sciences colleagues in the teachers’ lounge protesting our school’s focus on standardized tests. The middle school was located in a poverty-impacted community with over 95% of students of color. In 2009, I was finishing my fifth-year teaching and recall asking myself, “Why are the standardized tests such an evil thing? Don’t we need assessments to measure what the students are learning?” (ChenFeng, 2009).
One of the signature education policies in my early career was the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002. Teachers have different opinions of NCLB, but most educators and policy makers would agree that NCLB brought upon a culture of “over-testing and one size fits all mandates” (Duncan, 2015). During the 12 years I taught middle school math in Los Angeles, not once did I examine the intersection of white supremacy and education policy in my own classroom instruction. Overwhelmed by the high-stakes testing environment, and with a roster of 130 students, I was not aware of the impact of federal education policy on my teaching beliefs and instruction. In retrospect, I upheld color-evasive ideology and believed in a pedagogy that promoted the myth of meritocracy (Bonilla-Silva, 2017 as cited in Diem & Welton, 2020). In other words, I did not consider how race and racism shows up in the classroom or the ways I was complicit in perpetuating the false notion of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps.
The following article is an excerpt from Inspire Magazine and is reprinted with permission.
After schools shut down in March due to COVID-19, teacher Sarah Thornburg and her team tackled remote teaching with gusto.
“We were like, ‘Let’s go.’ We found out, not only could we not teach the way that we wanted, but we shouldn’t,” the Columbus, Ohio, teacher said. “Everything had to slow down and focus not on content but on (students’) mental well-being.”
Some high-schoolers doubled work hours to pay bills. Some feared they would expose grandparents to the virus. Families lost businesses.
“That’s a burden that’s incredible for anybody to have, much less for a 15-year-old to deal with,” Thornburg said. “You can’t teach a child who’s completely freaking out about, ‘Are we going to lose our home?’ That was eye-opening.”
This article is a personal reflection of the 2020 Washington Week State Leaders Institute by attendee John Blackwell.
As academics who value valid evidence and scientifically proven knowledge, we know that, concerning human beings, there is only one race—the human race. We have lived our entire lives knowing that race is one of the most divisive topics you could ever introduce in any conversation or classroom. Robin DiAngelo, in her book, ‘White Fragility’: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, explains so clearly the idea of race was created, “as an evolving social idea that was created to legitimize racial inequality and protect white advantage.” Despite this knowledge, the term racism has been weaponized to condemn anyone who uses it. When having discussion about racism, it is difficult for one to see beyond their emotion to get to the actual facts.
The Patton College of Education at Ohio University has initiated an educational series with the goal of enhancing knowledge about racist and anti-racist behaviors among citizens of the university and global communities. The Black Live Matters Munch & Learn Series features educators and industry leaders from diverse backgrounds who share the same passion for improving the culture that threatens U.S. communities and nation.
To date, three panel discussion have taken place:
Advocacy & Allyship: Every Day, Not Just When it is Trending
This session, which challenges participants to recognize and speak up against racism, features the following speakers:
- Brandi Baker, co-founder, Athens Parents for Racial Equality
- Tyrone Carr, director, Alumni Diversity Initiatives/Racial Equity Coalition of Athens
- Winsome Chunnu, director, Diversity and Inclusion
- Sarah Garlington, assistant professor, Department of Social Work/Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)