Education Week - July 8, 2015 - (Page 32)

COMMENTARY Education Scholars: Challenging Racial Injustice Begins With Us ed O NOT Racial Violence Is a 'Clarion Call' to Colleges of Education E By Nicole Nguyen very day, I ride public transportation to my university job as an education researcher and teachereducator. As I watch people board the train, I'm continually reminded of the talent, creativity, and experiences pulsing beneath Chicago's infrastructure. On my June 8 commute, I plugged my ears with my headphones to listen to reports of the humiliation and brutalization of young Black teens attending a neighborhood pool party in McKinney, Texas. Aghast but unsurprised, I wondered what role universities, and colleges of education more specifically, play in dismantling these state-sanctioned systems of violence that expose non-dominant youths to narrowed life chances, brutality, and premature death. While McKinney Police Cpl. David Eric Casebolt's resignation moves in the direction of police accountability, this decision mistakes constant police harassment, brutalization, and killings as a consequence of a few bad cops. These brutalizing acts are a violent product and constitutive element of institutional racism. Police brutality functions as one node in a larger system-racism, classism, heteropatriarchy, and ableism-that dehumanizes and criminalizes non-dominant youths. Rather than punish a few bad apples, we must tear down the entire tree. As public transit riders shuffled on and off the train, I began to understand that we cannot solve complex social problems like institutional racism within the prototypical ivory tower as armchair critics. Our scholarship cannot merely inform our own ideas and advance our own careers. If we are to train future teachers, principals, and education researchers, we must recognize how schools perpetuate and disrupt systems of inequality, nourish the critical consciousness of our students, model antiracist and decolonizing pedagogies, and build the tool kits necessary for creating more-democratic schools. This urgency is further heightened by the recent, horrific shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and the news that the accused shooter was lured by racist propaganda all too readily found online. If we are to counter the oppressive systems of inequality that brutalize youths, we cannot do it alone. We must marshal the intellect of all those who board the train, young people in particular. We do not need university solutions to public problems. To think, then, about the implications of | INSIDE | 22 W HAT WE'VE LEARNED FROM A LONGER SCHOOL DAY AND YEAR Bob Dahm for Education Week " We must build reciprocal partnerships between communities and universities, using all of our resources for a common anti-racist, anti-imperialist future." ongoing police violence for colleges of education, we must first ask: What is the role of the university? Where do our responsibilities, as university scholars, lie? To whom are we accountable? For me, the university is a public good with a public mission. That is, the intellectual society we fund and nurture extends beyond university borders and reaches into communities to solve social problems. Producing knowledge, teaching, and researching, subsequently, we must all work toward 22 THE ILLUSION OF 32 | EDUCATION WEEK | July 8, 2015 | CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP the common good of our multiple publics, enact democratic practices, and advance social justice. We must build reciprocal partnerships between communities and universities, using all of our resources for a common anti-racist, anti-imperialist future we collectively define. Although current institutional arrangements, reward structures, and accountability metrics discourage publicly engaged scholarship, the ongoing police killings of Black youths demand a university whose 23 THE 'POWER' OF ADVERSITY resources partner with those in the community. Pressing social problems require collective solutions. To do so, we must fundamentally reconfigure whom we imagine as a scholar and what counts as scholarship. Our work as faculty members begins with the community. The ongoing police killings of Black adolescents are a clarion call to academics to remake universities around this public mission. Our privilege as academics charges us with confronting and resisting the cultural, political, economic, and ideological work that makes these killings not only possible but justified. As the media obfuscate the racialized and gendered logics that rendered a congregation of Black teens dangerous, school staff members must build classrooms to empower children to name, interpret, and stand up to these daily confrontations with systems of oppression. We must train future teachers and school leaders to create politically charged classrooms where youths across difference describe, analyze, and address power inequities through collaborative and deliberative coalitions. Classroom learning can sharpen our analytic lens and develop the skills for organizing for social change. Those who can name their world, after all, gain the power to act in it. Schools often impose the same racialized and gendered regimes of humiliations, punishments, and brutalizations we witnessed in McKinney. Institutions of education, however, also possess the power to disrupt the cultural contexts that authorize the criminalization of Black youths, most evident in Casebolt's violent actions. Young people's classroom learning, life experiences, and encounters with other social institutions define how they accept or reject dominant narratives about Black adolescents and their analyses of these events. Schools can empower young people by nourishing their capacity to create other alternative forms of security, respect, and dignity. Public schools, then, operate as critical sites of struggle to define what kind of education young people receive and for what ends. Schools also serve as community hubs where families, children, community members, and educators gather to use the school's resources and discuss their children's progress. For some, this means adult researchers consult with youths by placing them at the center of conversations school adults have about teaching in and improving the schools. These collaborations seek to democratize research by carving out a PAGE 27 > NICOLE NGUYEN is an assistant professor of social foundations of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. 24 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - July 8, 2015

Education Week - July 8, 2015
Nev. Moves to Split Clark Co. District
Crazy Quilt of State Responses To Cries of Overtesting
Common Core Trickles Into All States
Advocates Scrutinize Head Start Proposals
Supreme Court To Decide Case On Union Fees
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Ed. School Critic Levine, MIT Partner to Launch Teacher-Prep ‘Lab’
Ariz.’s 20-Year-Old ELL Case May End, But Debate Rages On
Spelling—en Español—Catches On, With Bees in Multiple States
Blogs of the Week
ISTE Conference Examines How Tech Is Reshaping Education
Budgets, Testing Issues Took Legislative Stage
States Struggle With How to Ensure Good Teachers in All Schools
K-12 Issues Fall Within Suite of Recent High Court Rulings
In States, Plenty of Talk But Incremental Action on Early Ed.
Lengthy Floor Debate Looms for U.S. Senate Over ESEA Rewrite
Fresh Entrants in GOP’s Quest For White House
House, Senate Appropriations Bills Would Cut Back Ed. Dept. Funding
What We’ve Learned From a Longer School Day and Year
The Illusion of Closing The Achievement Gap
The ‘Power’ of Adversity
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Scholars: Challenging Racial Injustice Begins With Us

Education Week - July 8, 2015