Kim Anderson’s career path has been a diverse and divergent one.  Prior to obtaining a graduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, she was a free-lance writer, photographer and graphic artist with interests in “outsider art,” expressions of oppression and liberation beyond conventional artistic borders or boundaries.  After many years of private practice as a licensed clinical social worker, clinical supervisor and educator, Ms. Anderson received a post-graduate certificate and board certification in art psychotherapy.  She is the author of Culturally Considerate School Counseling:  Helping Without Bias (2010), co-author of Creating Culturally Considerate Schools:  Educating Without Bias (2012, released this week), both published by Corwin Press and a contributor to How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You:  Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies, 2nd Edition (2012) and The Biracial and Multiracial Student Experience:  A Journey to Racial Literacy (2008) by Dr. Bonnie M. Davis. Ms. Anderson presents her eclectic work at numerous local, regional and national events and venues, engaging her audience through compelling narrative, careful research, evocative experiences, and instructive storytelling.

Recently I presented an experiential workshop at a wonderful conference on Equity and Social Justice in Education.  I do this kind of workshop often but this one stands out not only as a prototype of my work, but as an archetype of sorts.  The strand in which I presented was “Othering.”

Borreo, Yeh, Cruz and Suda (2012) define “othering” as a personal, social, cultural, and historical experience involving a) cultural and racial ambiguity, b) categorization and labeling, c) hierarchical power dynamics, and d) limited access to resources.  At worst, “othering” is motivated by hostility; at best by indifference or even sympathy, but in each case, individuals are seen as “other,” rather than as part of the dominant and/or normative group (Lister, 2008).

As a non-academic researcher (not currently attached to a university), non-educator educational advocate (no experience as a classroom teacher), and person of non-normative aesthetics (facial scars), I often find myself in the company of teachers, administrators, and higher educational scholars.  In each identity, I am Other.

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JoEtta Gonzales

JoEtta has a passion for equity that has been present all her life.  As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, she connects with educational leaders who want to engage change and transformation.  With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she has helped hundreds of individuals develop the dispositions necessary to use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement.  A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.

Most of the time when school administrators and professional developers get together to discuss the practice of teaching, the talk turns to technique. They’ll debate for hours on end regarding the best way to teach students to read and make meaning of text. They’ll talk about fluency, decoding skills and a lot of specific strategies and/or programs that teachers should use to facilitate this learning. At times, the conversations even extend to “evidence-based practice” – which by the way, may or may not mean there is evidence that pertains to the specific population of students in which they are referring.

One subject that rarely comes up, though, is heart. That’s a shame too, because while a teacher with a strong repertoire of skills is valuable to have on staff, it’s the teacher with heart that reaches more students and motivates them to achieve more than they ever thought they could.  Indeed, teachers with heart are the best teachers in the school. Teaching for equity comes naturally to these teachers, as they possess the dispositions and mind-sets that actively enlist students to achieve at – or sometimes even beyond – their potential. As a former principal, I’ve seen this first hand. Read more

Dr. Urso earned her Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Arizona, her M.S. Ed. in Reading from the State University of New York at Oneonta and her B.S. in Special Education from the College of St. Rose. She has over 20 years’ experience teaching students in K-12 and adult populations in New York State. Dr. Urso has also worked extensively in the southwest training teachers and para-educators to work with students who have learning disabilities on Native American Indian Reservations. She has presented her research at national and international conferences. Dr. Urso believes we need to prepare teachers who are culturally competent and committed to social justice. She also believes our teachers must be highly skilled in effective, culturally responsive assessment, intervention and instructional techniques for children with disabilities. She is actively involved in supporting local school districts in their efforts to support students with learning differences. Currently, Dr. Urso is an Assistant Professor in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

The Road to Intolerance is Paved with Good Intentions

As a parent, a long-time teacher in K-12 schools, and now as a teacher educator, I have taught about diversity, acceptance, and tolerance. I have supported the messages of our civil rights leaders, and highlighted the laws that provide equal access to education and constitutional rights for all our citizens.  I have encouraged my children and students, through example and education, that we are all members of one human race entitled to respect and equal rights. I realize that I have fallen short in my responsibility because I have neglected to teach my children and students how to stand up against intolerance and bigotry when they see it.  I have neglected to provide the time and attention to fully respond to my pre-service teachers’ confrontations with institutional racism and bias in the schools they work in. I would suggest we all have fallen short in our responsibility to help shape an inclusive philosophy in our future generations.  Several recent events have brought this matter to my attention that I wish to share with you. Last fall over the course of one month, five young people took their lives after being cyber-bullied or harassed for issues of sexuality, ethnicity, or gender. Early this year, a student at a public Utah high school attended a pep rally in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe; subsequent investigation into this racist incident revealed it was not an isolated occurrence in the district. Last month, a high school in Birmingham, Alabama held meetings with parents after racist comments were found written on a bathroom wall, a racist note was found in the mailbox of a teacher, and another note was found in a student’s locker.

These are not isolated incidents. Read more

Zeus Leonardo is an Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at University of California, Berkeley.   Dr. Leonardo’s work is guided by an attempt to capture “the real experiences of race, both by whites and people of color.”  He argues that whiteness has not been historically marked by a certain sense of rigidity, but instead, has the ability to flex, change, and morph in order to ensure its survival. Moreover,  Dr. Leonardo argues, the construct of whiteness continues to shape global cultural identities even as it  fragments our total understanding of race.  By embracing a new, if not uncomfortable understanding of race and race relations, Dr. Leonardo believes that a more genuine sense of multiculturalism can be fostered.

Since the late 1980s, education has witnessed the creation of a new subfield of study called “Whiteness Studies.”  Since the arrival of Peggy McIntosh’s (1989) essay on white privilege, David Roediger’s (1991) documentation of the history of the white working class in the U.S., and Ruth Frankenberg’s (1993) interviews showcasing white women’s vacillation between evading and recognizing race, a veritable explosion of writings centering whiteness gives educators a new arsenal for analyzing schooling.  Overall, the innovation of Whiteness Studies has helped educators focus on the contours of racial privilege, or the other side of the race question that has long been neglected.  Rather than the usual, “What does it mean to be a person of color?” it asks, “What does it mean to be White in U.S. society?”  Traditionally, race analysis focused on the experiences and developments of communities of color, their struggles with racism, and hopes of one day ending it.  In The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois (1904/1989) posed the question to African Americans: “How does it feel to be a problem?”  Partly ironic in the sense that African Americans were on the receiving end of racism, the question was nonetheless profound in extrapolating what life is like when you are perceived to be a problem within the audacious assumptions of American democracy.  The turn to whiteness, which is now in full swing only two decades after the initial works, perhaps asks Whites the same question without the implicit irony: “How does it feel to be the problem?”  This time and coming mainly from White scholars writing about whiteness, the tone is more literal, even accusatory.  How do we scaffold educational leaders to adopt the study of whiteness in a critical way?

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Forlin picChris Forlin is Professor of Special and Inclusive Education at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Her research and publications focus on change paradigms in special education; inclusive education policy and practice; along with curricula and pedagogy for teacher education, with innovative research in working with systems and schools to establish sustainable inclusive education. She currently advises to the Hong Kong government task force on developing a New Senior Secondary School Curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities and is a consultant to the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training on developing curricula for preparing teachers for inclusion.

When asked to blog I initially thought I would talk about teacher education for inclusion which is one of my specific areas of interest. We have been actively promoting inclusion and ‘education for all’ for nearly four decades now but has teacher education for inclusion really kept up with this change? Can we claim as teacher educators that we are meeting the needs of adequately preparing teachers for inclusion? I have taught pre-service (or pre-surface as one of my undergraduates wrote about it in her assignment – Freudian slip or a simple spelling error? – not sure which is worse!) and in-service teachers for the past 18 years so it seemed a natural topic to select. Then I read the posting on this website from May 13, 2009, when President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2009 graduates of Arizona State University (You can access the full speech via http://www.niusileadscape.org/wk/). During this speech he asked the following questions:

“Did you study education? Teach in a high-need school? Give a chance to kids we can’t afford to give up on – prepare them to compete for any job anywhere in the world?”

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