AACTE Thought Leadership

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.

18 December 2019

Freedom of Speech and Civil Discourse

Free Speech - Women standing in front of US flag with hands over her mouth

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

Racist Curricula in the 21st Century Do Exist

Students of different races studying

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

Why Trauma-Informed Instruction is Vital to Success in the 21st Century Classroom

Girl drawing sad face and the word help in her notebookOur 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

The Reality of Segregation in Public Schools

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

Walk the integration walk, New York

By Ward Cummings

Classroom with all white studentsThis 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

Do Americans Understand Immigration? Here’s a Pop Quiz to Test Your Knowledge

By Leslie T. Fenwick

The Problem We All Live With ~Norman RockwellThis 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

Reducing the Violence that Permeates Through Our Schools

By Deborah Koolbeck

Protest for safe schools

The Problem
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

Immigration and Its Impact on American Schools

By Lynn M. Gangone

immigrate2

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

2019 PDK Poll Results and Their Meaning to Mindful and Meaningful Education

By Lynn M. Gangone

pdk poll

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 Social Responsibility: What This Means to Informed Citizenry

By Lynn M. Gangone

Flags

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…

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