|Sarah Biondello and me at the Marriott Marquis,|
Washington, D.C. Monday, April 11, 2016
Thanks to Teachers College Press: You're the Best!
by Angela Valenzuela
I want to express my gratitude to Sarah Biondello, Acquisitions Editor at Teachers College Press, for shepherding our co-published manuscript, Growing Critically Conscious Teachers: A Social Justice Curriculum for Educators of Latino/a Youth, to completion.
Before Sarah, the now retired Marie Ellen Larcada, was a true friend and motivator. For us in the National Latino Education Research and Policy Project , this has been a long journey much of which is captured in the manuscript.
NLERAP's signature project is a grow-your-own Latin@ teacher initiative, a grassroots and grasstops effort still under way in 5 cities in 5 states with our most robust site being at Cal State Sacramento that along with El Puente and the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn, New York, have both inspired this dream of a right to self determination of our communities with teacher
education—armed with a community-based, social justice consciousness—residing at its core.
The book conveys a model for this in terms of a community-anchored framework, a method, curriculum, and pedagogy. It offers a clear structure that we hope will inspire communities throughout the nation to undertake similar grassroots initiatives. Although we focus on the Latin@ community, it is directly translatable to diverse communities everywhere.
It is not enough for our teachers to simply command knowledge and skills. They must also optimally possess the kind of dispositions that research has found not only "works" for minority youth, but majority, as well.
This is a community-oriented, social justice approach that addresses the achievement gap squarely not by looking at what children lack, but by considering how we can—to borrow from Dr. Esteban Díaz—create "positive zones of success" instead of "negative zones of failure." As articulated within, teacher's work is a collective endeavor, ideally situated as part of a larger, grander vision as historically articulated by our communities that continue to challenge hegemonic curricula and oppressive, institutional structures that "subtractively school" our youth, leaving them academically vulnerable to academic failure. That is, under the rhetoric of assimilation or Americanization, they continue to eviscerate our children's home-based languages, cultures, and identities much to their academic detriment.
If there is anything that we've learned from this work, it's that there are no short cuts. Growing our own teachers and future leaders is a slow and patient process, yet we are truly all the better for it. Once an initiative like ours "takes root" in your communities whereby the precise stakeholders that stand to benefit from this grow-you-own teacher model are invested, the sky is the limit. We can grow our own teachers, our own graduate students, our own professional class, our own business leaders, our own intellectuals, our own social justice warriors and as a consequence, a brighter future.
Again, TC Press, you're the best! You can purchase the book here.
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