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Home > News Room > AACTE Thought Leadership
Educators, the First Responders for Democracy
Navigating an Unpredictable Pandemic
Overcoming Racial Battle Fatigue Through Education Reform
Equity in Teacher Education
Online Teaching Curricula in Ed Prep
Overcoming Racial Bias in Teacher Evaluation: Walk It, Like You Talk It
See All Thought Leadership Articles
AACTE and its members are committed to addressing current challenges facing education and educator preparation. We strongly believe in instilling within students and learners the importance of making a difference in the world. Our teacher educators must model social responsibility through embracing and advocating for societal changes that uplift all citizens.
AACTE’s thought leadership series highlights critical societal issues that affect education in our world today. We believe the following articles and resources will help all educators find their voice and support their students’ activism toward creating positive change.
November 2, 2020
By Lynn M. Gangone
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
As educators, we have confronted monumental challenges this year, and yet, have managed to still make great strides. In mid-March, while closing our classrooms due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we found ways to educate our students virtually. Amidst mounting challenges, educators united to ensure that our nation’s children were able to continue learning.
September 22, 2020
In early spring, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the doors to classrooms, there was an optimistic belief that by fall the obstacles of the pandemic would disappear and in-class instruction would return to normal. However, as states began to lift emergency orders and school districts prepared to reopen schools, it became evident that education leaders would still be grappling with the unpredictable public health crisis this fall.
September 21, 2020
By Monika Shealey
The horrific image of George Floyd taking his last breath is seared into our hearts and minds. Since that tragic event, we continue to bear witness to racial violence, police brutality, and incidents of discrimination that are played repeatedly in the news and via social media. The cumulative effect of these stressful reports can be traumatizing, and they are having a profound impact on our educators and students of color.
September 4, 2020
By Andrew Daire
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.
September 1, 2020
By David Slykhuis
Last March, many educators were caught off guard—and dismayed—when they learned their school doors were closing and teaching would move online due to COVID-19. Rightfully so. They simply were not prepared for one of our nation’s greatest education experiments turning in-class instruction into online learning with a flip of a switch.
August 19, 2020
By Maria del Carmen Salazar
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.
July 13, 2020
We live in a society that is rapidly changing. The worldwide pandemic has shown us the harsh, but important, reality that divisiveness, inequality, and discrimination persist in our country. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others are stark evidence that racism still has deep and seemingly impenetrable roots in our country. This profound moment in time has brought despair to and heightened protest not only within the Black American community, but to people of all races throughout our country and the world. While addressing and rectifying these injustices requires the concerted effort of all American citizens, educators play an essential role in creating and ensuring an equitable existence for everyone.
June 2, 2020
By Ann Larson
COVID-19 has forced educators to say goodbye to their classrooms and embrace adapting their pedagogy to online formats overnight. They have learned new technology, found creative ways to engage students remotely, and most importantly, kept education moving forward. The current public health crisis has placed a well-deserved spotlight on teachers. As parents struggle to balance work, supervise virtual classrooms, and co-educate their children, a new awareness and appreciation for the influence, power, and value of great teachers has emerged.
May 5, 2020
By Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson
During times of crisis, leadership can either ignite fear and uncertainty or provide a sense of purpose and confidence in the path forward. Active leadership in higher education is always multifaceted and requires a culture of preparedness. However, with the onset of COVID-19, leaders faced unprecedented challenges with no easy answers. AACTE interviewed Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, to discuss what leadership in higher education should look like during difficult times and how she is guiding her institution through the COVID-19 crisis.
May 1, 2020
By Jane West
In the last few weeks U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has put forward three initiatives intended to privatize the provision of public education. Given her long known and widely declared conviction that vouchers and related schemes to deliver public dollars into private hands are the panacea for all that ails education, this is not surprising. Watching her leap into the breach caused by the COVID-19 emergency is troubling, though not unexpected.
April 7, 2020
By Lynn M. Gangone and Jacqueline Rodriguez
With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19), school districts, institutions of higher education, and educators are finding themselves in uncharted territory. As schools across the nation are forced to shut their doors, finding ways to best serve all students equitably has never been more urgent. This is especially true for our most vulnerable students—those with disabilities. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
26 Febuary 2020
By Kimberly White Smith
The American education system was not created to support the liberation of the powerless. Instead, it was designed to instill skills, habits, beliefs, and discipline that would allow for better control of the masses. The colonizers who became the architects of this country built a system that perpetuates the status of white-skinned privilege and wealth, while leaving those in the lower and middle classes burdened with the laborious task of building and supporting our nation’s economy and infrastructure. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
13 January 2020
By Marquita Grenot-Scheyer
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. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
18 December 2019
By Marvin Lynn
Freedom of speech is an ideal to which those who founded this country believed in. I recall President Barack Obama’s many talks about the “American Ideals” of freedom, justice, and liberty, which I believe, includes free speech. Inherent in President Obama’s message was the notion that these ideals were not fully realized by historically marginalized communities in the United States. The current climate of our society further challenges our ability to see “freedom of speech” as something that is unifying rather than polarizing. This has become an increasingly important topic in higher education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, for example, continuously highlights issues regarding the intersection of free speech and civil discourse that are impacting education in unprecedented ways. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
09 December 2019
By Michael Dantley
Any curriculum, even the most enlightened, has traces of racism. This is simply because we all have biases that come through in multiple ways. Our responsibility as educators is to be critically self-reflective and continuously monitor ourselves, our work, and our interactions with both the students we teach and those around us.
Invariably, believing we are culturally and linguistically responsive and sustaining, is an indication that we still have work to do. This is because we are always in a state of becoming. New experiences and knowledge expand our ways of thinking and intersect with our lived experiences making the familiar strange. This is true for individuals and curriculum. That is why continuous critical self-reflection is essential as it affords us the opportunity to negotiate uncomfortable and challenging spaces, experiences, and interactions. It is through this disruption that we learn. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
05 December 2019
By John A. Kuykendall
Our nation and the entire world are changing rapidly. With the rise of threats to our children’s safety like depression, lack of mental health resources, familial disruptions, and school violence and shootings, it is imperative that we equip teachers and school personnel with the tools they need to recognize and respond to all students, in all classrooms.
In today’s schools, students are suffering from a variety of issues; one that arises too often is mental health. Unfortunately, it is not always apparent what these students are experiencing. Depression is rampant. Emotional stress stems from a variety of external factors including depression, divorce, social media anxiety, lost friendships, bullying or simply feeling out of touch with others. It is imperative, now more than ever, that our teachers are prepared to notice when students are experiencing these types of trauma. Trauma informed practices allow teachers to be trained well beyond the obvious clues and prepares them to be aware of early, less apparent warning signs, so they can successfully and swiftly intervene to help a student in need. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
03 December 2019
Why are schools still segregated in 2019? The answer to this question is a complicated one. One with roots deep in the history of our educational system. The surface answer has to do with the fact that racist curricula and prejudice within our society still exist. Where you live determines where you go to school. Many times, the poorer, minority students live in lower income neighborhoods. And as children become racially isolated, it then trickles into our schools, resulting in segregation.
In fact, segregation is even evident in schools that are racially diverse. You’ll notice that most students in advanced placement classes are Caucasian or Asian. Who do we see in remedial classes? We see African American students, particularly African American males. Even with a diverse student population, the evidence of systemic segregation is scarily rampant. The deep vestiges of racism and segregation subtly permeate through our schools and it sets dangerous precedents. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
14 November 2019
By Ward Cummings
This article, written by AACTE Director of Government Relations K. Ward Cummings, originally appeared in the Daily News Opinion section and is reprinted with permission.
The civil rights leader Malcolm X once famously said that the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. If he were alive today, he might also include those weekday hours between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. when our children are in school.
This past May was the 65th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education. The occasion inspired numerous panel discussions, seminars and reports about how much or how little the state of education has changed in the last half-century. Sadly, considerable attention also was paid to the subject of how segregated American schools remain 65 years later. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
07 November 2019
By Leslie T. Fenwick
This article, written by AACTE Dean of Residence Leslie T. Fenwick, originally appeared in the Washington Post Valerie Strauss column and is reprinted with permission.
“The Problem We All Live With” is the title of the famed Norman Rockwell painting inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges and school integration. In 1964, Rockwell created the painting for the 10th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education legal decision that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional. The subject of Rockwell’s painting was inspired by Ruby Bridges, who was just 6 years old (born four months after the May 1954 Brown decision) when she integrated the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
22 October 2019
By Deborah Koolbeck
As educators, protecting and nurturing the health and well-being of our nation’s most precious investment—our youth—is always top of mind. Safeguarding their welfare and creating supportive learning ecosystems should be national priorities. Unfortunately, no one piece of legislation, no one initiative, no one activist, or caring teacher can bring that umbrella of safety to every student, everywhere, all the time. What we need to be talking about openly and often across the nation is prevention: training, learning, and preparing. This begins at the federal level with funding to equip our state and local leaders with the tools necessary to create and foster a safe and balanced learning environment for all students. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
20 September 2019
By Lynn M. Gangone
America is a country of immigrants. Through each wave of immigration, our public schools incorporate immigrant children into the fabric of our country. Our public schools serve as a cultural incubator to aid and nurture acceptance of diversity. Our local classrooms should be a microcosm of a global demographic. We, as educators, need to harness that belief for our teachers and the students they teach and guide.
How do America’s immigration challenges impact schools?
The challenge is that there are undocumented students entering U.S. schools, colleges, and universities who were not given the option to decide for themselves whether they wanted to come to this country. They have been incorporated into society, but are affected by current practices that impact their safety and security. It is projected that by the year 2040, one in every three children in the United States will grow up in an immigrant household (Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, & Todorova, 2008). It begs the question: How do we work with those students? READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
30 August 2019
While serving on this year’s (Phi Delta Kappan) PDK Poll Advisory Board, I listened and collaborated with scores of thought leaders in the education ecosystem—The National Education Association, The Learning Policy Institute, The Learning First Alliance, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, among others. We determined what approaches to take to quantify, understand, and disseminate the vast amount of information and data garnered from this extremely worthwhile and useful poll. We discussed the results and how they could be utilized to advance 21st century classrooms, its students, and those who lead them. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…
16 August 2019
Educators and students are facing unprecedented times. The challenges both students and their teachers confront today vastly affects the efficacy of even the best educator’s efforts to create and foster students’ zeal for learning and to contribute to the society they will one day shape. Yet, educators must stay committed to fulfilling their social responsibility now more than ever before.
What Should Social Responsibility Look Like in the Teaching Profession?
This varies from educator to educator, so the answer to this question is complicated and multi-faceted. Education is about opening minds, creating new knowledge. It is an expansive endeavor. In theory, education should provide us with the understanding and capacity of what it means to be a citizen of this nation and the world. Our nation’s founders understood the importance of an educated citizenry. Today, I believe that we need educators to support both a students’ academic development and citizen development. READ THE FULL ARTICLE…