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.
Since the Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act in 2013, we have seen several states pass legislation that makes it more difficult for certain populations to register to vote and/or cast their ballot. Many of these bills disproportionately impact communities of color and/or low-income voters. This effort has intensified in 2021.
According to one count, as of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. The various pieces of legislation relate to making voter registration more onerous, allowing local elections officials purge voter rolls, limiting early, in-person voting, and/or tightening voter identification requirements, among other things (there are a handful of states that are trying to make it easier for those of voting age to legally register and cast their ballots).
The AACTE 2021 Deeper Dive session “Critical Race Theory and Countering Political Culture” brought together experts in education, law, and history to discuss how taking a critical approach can help educators engage in courageous action. The panel included Khiara Bridges, professor of law at University of California Berkeley; Sonya Ramsey, associate professor of history at University of North Carolina Charlotte; and Alfredo Artiles, Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University.
What is critical race theory?
Khiara Bridges began by acknowledging that although there is no single definition or enactment of critical race theory (CRT), CRT scholars all stand in opposition to oppression. Bridges defined CRT as an intellectual movement, a body of scholarship, and an analytical toolset for interrogating the relationship between inequality and education, law, history, health, or any other school of thought. She discussed four common tenants to CRT:
In October 2020, AACTE invited the chief representatives of its member institutions to complete a survey on how the twin crises of COVID-19 and racial injustice had affected their educator preparation programs and how they have responded to these crises. AACTE conducted a similar survey in April 2020, asking members about the immediate impact of COVID-19 on their educator preparation programs. A new report, released during the 2021 Annual Meeting, summarizes results from both surveys, tracking the evolving response of EPPs to these twin crises.
Key findings include the following:
AACTE is pleased to announce authors of the article, “Rethinking High-Leverage Practices in Justice-Oriented Ways,” as the recipient of the 2021 AACTE Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education Article Award. Published in the September/October 2020 issue of the journal, the authors of the article, Angela Calabrese Barton of University of Michigan, Edna Tan of University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Daniel J. Birmingham of Colorado State University are being presented with the award at today’s virtual AACTE 73rd Annual Meeting Awards Forum.
“There is much to admire and value about the scholarship that Calabrese Barton, Tan, and Birmingham report in this award-winning piece,” said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the School of Education, University of Michigan. “Their ambitious pursuit of justice-oriented teaching practice, conducted in partnership with teachers, makes invaluable contributions to our understanding of how educators engage in socially transformative teaching.”
Invited Speakers Talk About Courageous Action
The call to action to engage our collective consciousness by resisting hate and restoring hope through courageous action is now. After the summer of racial reckoning, institutions have re-examined mission and vision statements for what many consider a watershed moment with “talk of transformation, roadmaps, and “action steps” toward sweeping curricular reforms (Bartlet, T, 2021). The Improving Practices in STEM Teacher Preparation (IPSTP) Topical Action Group (TAG) likewise responds to the call by reimagining TAG activities and engaging members to reflect, reimagine, and take action through STEM teacher education.
To start the work for envisioning courageous action, the IPSTP TAG has invited scholars to share their work in socially just and equity-sustaining STEM practices. The invited speakers include Angela Calabrese Barton of the University of Michigan, Edna Tan of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Tanya Maloney of Montclair State University, and Kathleen Schenkel of San Diego State University.
During the virtual AACTE 2021 Annual Meeting, attendees are invited to join their peers at the Learning Lab session, Disrupting Inequities: Local and Global initiatives for Shared Responsibility in Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice on Friday, February 26, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. AACTE member
Michael W. Apple of the University of Wisconsin addresses this topic in the following thought leadership article.
Schools, particularly public schools, are under a great threat right now. And as education leaders, it’s imperative that we understand the current environment. There is a growing anger towards our educational system that is visible statewide and at a national level. Fueled by restorative politics, many of those who have lost their faith in public schools believe that educators place too much emphasis on equitable education. Yet, while much more needs to be done, the simple fact that some people are criticizing schools must mean that we must be doing something right already. If we weren’t working at interrupting racial injustice many people, especially those who are ultra-rightists, wouldn’t be so angry at schools and teachers.
The Teacher Exemplar Award is presented by the AACTE Diversified Teacher Workforce (DTW) Topical Action Group (TAG) to recognize exceptional student/clinical teachers of Color and PK-12 mentor/cooperating teachers who serve as mentors to student/clinical teachers in field experiences. The instructional pedagogies and practices embodied by the recipients of this award reflects the DTW TAG mission and goals and advances our current understanding of the importance of cultivating a diversified teaching workforce that enhances educational opportunities for ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse students.
Recipients of these awards have demonstrated effective instructional/pedagogical practices, advocacy skills, and a service-minded disposition toward addressing inequities through their teaching, participation in local community, school, and/or grassroots service efforts. In recognition and honor of this important work, the recipients will receive a $500 honorarium each and be recognized in our 2021 DTW Virtual Institute. Also, the recipients will be asked to participate on the planning committee of the 2022 DTW Institute.
During the virtual AACTE 2021 Annual Meeting, attendees are invited to join their peers at the Deeper Dive Session, Leading in the Time of Crisis: Responding to COVID19 and Social Justice Movements, Wednesday, February 24 at 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. AACTE member Andrew J. Schiera of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education addresses this topic in the following thought leadership article.
Our world has never experienced anything like it did in 2020. Last year, we found ourselves at a major crossroad. Amidst fighting a global pandemic, our country also experienced intense civil unrest and protests due to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. We have all been deeply affected by these events, and our nation’s teachers have been thrust into a world unknown. They must not only become practical-minded, on-the-ground social justice educators but must learn how to do so effectively in an ever-changing virtual environment. Now, more than ever, we must dig deep into what we know as teacher educators and to listen, anticipate, and plan rather than reacting to barriers (both expected and unexpected) that emerge along the way.
The following statement was included in a Washington Post article on January 7.
AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the horrific events that took place yesterday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol building:
“Our nation experienced a serious threat to our treasured democracy as rioters stormed one of our nation’s sacred buildings, the U.S. Capitol, intending damage and insurrection. We witnessed a challenge to our democracy that none of us could ever have imagined. Generated by our nation’s President, some Members of Congress, and their denial of the results of our free and open electoral process, this unlawful invasion of the Capitol has left us all stunned. Never could we imagine such an event would occur in our nation’s capital, the seat of our democracy.
We are further outraged by the vast difference in how these rioters were treated by police as compared to how peaceful protesters for Black Lives Matter have been treated. The discrepancies are stark and maddening.
This article originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.
The 1787 U.S. Constitution was ratified to establish justice, liberty, and prosperity, but not for all Americans. Like the Constitution, early American educational practices were based on a system of whiteness and elitism. Justice and prosperity for those who comprise marginalized groups have remained largely unfulfilled. We know for certain that we are a pluralistic society. No one group has singularly built this nation, secured its borders, nor defended its values. The plurality of our nation is our strength. As educators, particularly who prepare America’s future teachers, we must double down, now more than ever, on what Horace Mann said, “Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.”
America has yet to become an equal society, and these societal ills create the need for scholar activism embedded in Critical Race Theory (CRT), which historically documents and names the atrocities carried out in this country in the name of freedom, liberty, and democracy. America’s struggle to uphold the Constitution for all its citizens makes it necessary to examine the structural oppression that encumbers the United State from fully living up to its democratic ideals. Through CRT, scholars across higher education have researched racial inequality that emerged from the social, economic, and legal differences created between races to maintain elite, white interests in this country. If our national laws and practices are to ensure justice and equity, then educators have a great deal of work to do in ensuring the American ideals we teach youth to value in school are a reality for all.
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.”
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
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.