Big Ten education deans unite against systemic racism

The 14 education deans in the Big Ten came together to address the topic of systemic racism and the role of education in effecting change. Credit: Still image from videoAll Rights Reserved.

This summer, the deans of Colleges of Education at Big Ten Universities came together in solidarity to work toward ending the systemic racism that plagues our nation. Together, they created a video, talking about the changes that are needed, and how to make those changes happen.

The consensus among the deans is that one of the ways colleges can effect change in our nation is to diversify the teaching force by increasing the diversity of our student populations.

"We know that there are big changes in the demographics and students of color are becoming an increasingly larger proportion of our K-12 population, and yet our teaching population hasn't changed in a very long time," said James Anderson, dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois.

"We simply cannot stay neutral about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, or any of the other countless Black individuals that have lost their lives to police brutality,” said Kim Lawless, dean of the College of Education at Penn State.

"I feel compelled to examine what we do to prepare our future teachers, counselors and leaders in their ability to address systemic racism, to be anti-racist and to build support for diverse communities," said Nancy Marchand-Martella, dean of the College of Education at Purdue University.

"We are recognizing that it's not simply enough to say that we believe in social justice. We need to be anti-racist. We need to work against the systems and the structures that are perpetuating inequities in our society," said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the School of Education at University of Michigan.

"My specific call to action that I'm holding myself accountable for is to call it as I see it, when I see it, to whomever is essential," said Wanda J. Blanchett, dean of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

"And I also feel compelled at this time to urge other administrators, particularly white men, in university administration to take the same personal responsibility both to themselves and to the organizations to address the structural issues we have in higher education," said Daniel Clay, dean of the College of Education at the University of Iowa.

"We can work on curriculum, so that K-12 students as well as higher education students understand what we mean by systemic racism and have a good and solid knowledge of the history of race relations in the country, and what we need to do going forward," said Anderson.

"We also have to take responsibility for the fact that our very own profession is complicit in the stronghold systemic racism has on society. And it is up to us to break down the structures within our school systems and develop new ways of teaching and learning that privilege all of the assets that our students bring into the classroom, and end policies and practices that negatively impact students of color disproportionately," Lawless said.

"This is the time that we must make a difference in our college for the next generation, and in our community," said Don Pope-Davis, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State.

"We stand strongly in alignment with our Big Ten peers to fight racial injustice through our outreach activities, our research and our teaching," said Stacy Morrone, dean of the School of Education at Indiana University.

To view the video, click here.

Last Updated September 15, 2020