Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Push to increase the number of teachers of color in California classrooms gains momentum: Initiatives underway to increase diversity among California teachers

This article is evidence-based with respect to the importance of teachers' race and ethnicity in terms of how it matters significantly for students' lives at the classroom level, impacting positively the achievement gap.  This focus in California on the recruitment and retention of teachers of color needs to happen everywhere.


Push to increase the number of teachers of color in California classrooms gains momentum

Initiatives underway to increase diversity among California teachers

Increasing the number of teachers of color in California classrooms has been a top priority for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond since he started the job in January. Now, he’s planning a statewide task force focused on improving teacher diversity in California schools. 
“The data shows when kids see a teacher who looks like them it makes a huge difference,” Thurmond said in an earlier EdSource interview.
Hiring a diverse group of teachers can help students academically and provide role models for their future, research has revealed.
Thurmond already has assembled an advisory group focused on closing the persistent achievement gap between students of color and their white and Asian peers. 
Research shows a strong association between poverty and students’ lack of success on achievement tests. And while poverty is not unique to any ethnicity, it does exist in disproportionate rates among African-Americans and Hispanics, and among English learners.
Having more teachers with diverse backgrounds in the classroom has a positive impact on learning for students of color and for closing achievement gaps, according to a study from the Learning Policy Institute. Students of color generally have higher test scores, are more likely to graduate from college and to succeed in college when they have teachers of color in the classroom they can look to as role models.
But this doesn’t happen often enough. Fewer than 4 percent of teachers in California were African-American and 20.7 percent were Latino, while 5.4 percent of the state’s students were African-American and 54.2 percent were Latino in 2017-18, according to data from the California Department of Education. About a quarter of the state’s teachers are male.
A survey of participants of a virtual town hall on the achievement gap, hosted by the Department of Education in Sacramento in September, found that an overwhelming majority agreed that getting more teachers with diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds into classrooms is essential to reducing the achievement gap. 
The Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative has come to much the same conclusion. The group is led by four co-chairs: Manufou Liaiga Anoa’i, a school board member with the Jefferson Elementary School District in Daly City; Ryan Smith, chief external officer for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schoolsa nonprofit that runs 18 schools within Los Angeles Unified; Roseann Torres, CEO of Torres Law Group and a board member in the Oakland Unified School District; and Elisha Smith Arrillaga, executive director of The Education Trust-West, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the achievement gap. 
At least 100 people across the state have been working with the initiative, which launched in February. Diversifying the teacher workforce is a large part of their discussion, Smith said.
 “We see recruitment and retention of teachers of color to be key to improving the outcomes of marginalized students,” he said. 
Smith said the most impactful teacher he had growing up was another African-American male who told him he could do anything and that there would be obstacles, but that he believed in him.
“What I see is that when students see themselves in the educator we put in front of them and when the educator can speak to the experiences of the student and understand the culture that the student resides in and they understand the challenges of being a person of color, there is a connection there that is important,” Smith said.
The California Department of Education defines teachers of color as all teachers who are not white, said Scott Roark, a spokesman for the department.
Thurmond and the California Department of Education also want to identify effective strategies of school districts that have successfully been able to recruit and retain teachers of color, according to Smith. They want to work with advocacy groups to raise awareness about the need for those teachers and to spotlight universities that have effectively increased the number of students of color who go on to become teachers.
San Diego State University recently started a program aimed at increasing the number of Latino and bilingual teachers in California. Beginning next year the university will accept 100 students from local colleges into its bilingual credentials program, which prepares teachers to teach in bilingual K-12 classrooms. The program, which is supported by a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, will offer students a stipend.
That effort will be ratcheted up when a task force focusing on increasing teacher diversity in California classrooms begins its work. The California Department of Education is in the early stages of putting the task force together and no timelines have been set, according to Roark. The task force will work closely with CSU Northridge, which has a program focusing on preparing men of color to become teachers. 
In the meantime, the Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative will continue to meet monthly and conduct virtual town halls, surveys and regional meetings with stakeholders across the state. 
Although the group’s recommendations to close the achievement gap won’t be completed until early next year, a report released in September by The Education Trust and Teach Plus, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers for leadership roles, may offer some insight into what is needed to retain black and Latino teachers.
The report, “If you listen we will stay: Why teachers of color leave and how to disrupt teacher turnover,” is primarily based on interviews with administrators and teachers who identify as African-American or Latino, from California, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas.
The report offered four recommendations to state leaders to help recruit and retain African-American and Latino teachers:
  • Offer loan forgiveness, service scholarships, loan repayment incentives and relocation incentives.
  • Invest in the recruitment, preparation and development of leaders committed to positive working conditions for a diverse workforce.
  • Collect and study data on teacher recruitment, hiring and retention by race and ethnicity.
  • Ensure curriculum, learning and work environments are inclusive and respectful to all racial and ethnic groups.
The teachers who were interviewed said they often experience an antagonistic school culture and feel undervalued and disconnected from the curriculum being taught. They would like to be allowed to teach in more creative and meaningful ways because students aren’t always represented in the curriculum or in classroom materials, according to the report.
The teachers said they want to work in an environment where they can impact students beyond test scores and allow them to graduate with a strong racial identity. They tend to stay at schools where there are strong relationships among staff and a commitment to equity, social justice and the dismantling of racism, according to the study.
“Recruiting teachers of color only gets them into the building,” according to the report. “We must pay equal, if not more, attention to their retention to make a long-lasting change in the diversity of the workforce.” 

Diana Lambert is based in Sacramento and among other topics writes about teachers and teaching in California

Language Carries More Than Words. An Interview of Ojibwe Scholar David Treuer

Epistemology, or ways of knowing, is a concept that is oftentimes hard to grasp because it's hard for us to imagine ourselves outside of our current ways of knowing.  Though not always, one tends to grasp it more readily if you speak two or more languages.  

That said, how we know what we know is mediated by language and culture as this exquisite interview with Ojibwe scholar, David Treuer.  His most recent text that is receiving significant notoriety is titled, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present 

Certain concepts, ideas, and the feelings that accompany them, particularly in the realm of identity caught up with a deeps sense of history and place, simply cannot be fully translated.  Hence, the importance of language and cultural preservation and revitalization.

The interview transcript appears below.  However, I encourage you to hear his interview with Krista Tippett in this On Being podcast.

-Angela Valenzuela

On Being with Krista Tippett 

featuring David Treuer

Image by Dan Koeck, © All Rights Reserved.

Language Carries More Than Words


Writer David Treuer’s work tells a story that is richer and more multi-dimensional than the American history most of us learned in school. Treuer, who grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, helped compile the first practical grammar of the Ojibwe people. He says the recovery of tribal languages and names is part of a fuller recovery of our national story — and the human story. And it holds unexpected observations altogether about language and meaning that most of us express unselfconsciously in our mother tongues.

Image of David Treuer

David Treuer divides his time between the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. His books include Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, and most recently, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.


From Náhuatl to Guaraní: 5 Apps to Help You Learn Indigenous Languages

While no app can fully teach anyone any language, it's clear that apps like these can be helpful.  That disclaimer aside, it's cool just to have an app for some Indigenous tongues.

Thanks to Dr. Emma Mancha-Sumners for sharing.


Written by |

Some of us feel that speaking Spanish or Portuguese is an important marker of Latinidad. But with millions of people speaking indigenous languages in Latin America, we know this is far from the truth. Spanish is, of course, one thing that unites most of Latin America together, but it’s a language that was imposed on us. It’s one reason some Mexican writers have rejected Spanish to write in indigenous languages. For those of us who are interested in learning indigenous languages, technology has become a lifeline.
Several apps have sprung over the last few years to help us learn indigenous languages of Latin America. If you’re looking to take on a new language, here are a few apps you should check out:

Vamos a aprender náhuatl

Kernaia, a company intent on creating “an ecosystem of digital content for indigenous languages,” launched the Vamos a aprender náhuatl app for those interested in learning the Náhuatl spoken in Acatlan, Guerrero. Not unlike DuoLingo, the app – which is in Spanish and Náhuatl – features a glossary and quizzes to help users retain their lessons. What users won’t find is the language’s writing system. In the mid-1500s, Náhuatl faced extinction when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire. Spaniards intended for their language to supplant Náhult.
The app is available on iOS and Android. Learn more here.

Habla Quechua

Quechua’s one of the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. PromPerú developed the Habla Quechua app “with the aim of inspiring Peruvian citizens and foreigners to use and take an interest in the Quechua language.” The app – which is available to English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers – features quizzes and a live translator feature.
The app is available on iOS and Android.


Eentsi (Ashaninka)

Though this app is geared toward children, it’s a great tool to begin familiarizing yourself with a new language. Created by Instituto de Investigación de la Amazonía Peruana (IIAP), Eentsi aims to teach you basic sounds and words in Ashaninka.
The app is available on Android. IIAP has created more apps to help you learn other indigenous languages spoken in the Amazon.

Vamos a aprender purépecha

Kernaia has other language-learning apps, including one for Purépecha and Mixteco. The Purépecha app aims to teach users more than just words; it wants to also show them how an indigenous community in Michoacan is maintaining its traditions as the world changes.
The app is available on iOS and Android. Learn more here.


DuoLingo offers courses in more than 20 languages, including the Jopará dialect of Guaraní, which is spoken in Paraguay. The app offers quizzes and immediate grading.
DuoLingo is available on iOS and Android. Learn more here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Dr. Bernardo Gallegos, A Remembrance on Indigenous People's Day

Today, on Indigenous People's Day, I express my condolences to the family of my dear, departed friend and colleague, Dr. Bernardo Gallegos, an outstanding scholar whose work, I feel, has never gotten the attention it deserves.  He passed away peacefully last week in his home.

I encourage you to read his work that addresses Indigeneity and education, including his autobiographical writings from his experiences growing up in New Mexico as a Genizaro.

Dr. Gallegos spoke to my class a couple of years ago on his powerful autobiography that had just gotten published at the time, Postcolonial Indigenous Performances: Coyote Musings on Genízaros, Hybridity, Education, and Slavery (2017). Appearing below is a notice of his funeral services to be held in California this weekend.

Thank you for your friendship and for being an inspiration to so many, myself included, through your outstanding contributions to scholarship.  Thank you for sharing and theorizing of your numerous life stories that always seemed to track back to your youth and the fountain of insights related to 
having grown up as a Genizaro, nourishing your powerful intellect and generous heart and spirit.

A number of his other publications appear below.

May you rest in peace, my friend.  What a difference you made and will continue to make in the world.

-Angela Valenzuela

Dr. Bernardo Gallegos


  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2018). Reflections on the Social Foundations of Education. Educational Studies, 54(1): 55-62.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2016). Education and Indigenous Slavery in New Mexico. American Educational History Journal, 43(1): 16.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2015). Sixteenth Century Indigenous Scholars of El Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlaltelolco. Professing Education, 10(1): .
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2012). The Education of Hummingbird Boy. The Sophists Bane: A Journal of the Society of Professors of Education., 6(1): .
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2017). Postcolonial Indigenous Performances: Coyote Musings on Genízaros, Hybridity, Education, and Slavery. Postcolonial Indigenous Performances: Coyote Musings on Genízaros, Hybridity, Education, and Slavery.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2010). Handbook of Research in Social Foundations of Education.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2004). Performance Theories and Education, Power, Pedagogy, and the Politics of Identity.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2003). Indigenous Education in the Americas: Diasporic Identities, Epistemologies, & Postcolonial Spaces, Special Issue: Educational Studies Journal.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (1991). Literacy, Education, and Society in Colonial New Mexico, 1693 to 1821.
  • Gallegos, B. (2010). Introduction: Globalization, Institutions, and Power. Handbook of Research in Social Foundations of Education.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2010). Curriculum Studies in Relation to the Field of Educational Foundations. Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies. 5.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2010). Subaltern Curriculum Studies. Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies. 7.
  • Gallegos, B. P.. (2010). "Dancing the Comanches", The Santo Nino, La Virgen (of Guadalupe) and the Genizaro Indians of New Mexico. Indigenous Symbols and Practices in the Catholic Church. 24.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Dreamers Scholarship Fund has been created! Please consider making a donation!

Thanks to Bob Kimball, the Dreamers Scholarship Fund (DSF) has been approved as a 501(c)(3)!

Please share their link on FB with your FB friends and all others. It  includes information and application form. They are currently looking for  volunteers to help them set up a web site.  

Dreamers college students are not eligible for financial aid from the Government and need our assistance.   The DSF is accepting applications at this time. 

Donations are always welcome.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Georgia Southern students burn UNL professor's novel following campus discussion about race

This story surrounding University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor Jennine Capó Crucet's talk related to her book at Georgia Southern University is not only disturbing, but also sad and pathetic to the point that that this official statement, in reference to the Medieval practice of book burning,  by the university's vice president for strategic communications and marketing had to be made:

"While it's within the students' First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern's values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas," Lester told Buzzfeed.

This is horrific and unacceptable, my friends.  We must reject these ways of knowing and being in the world that are openly hostile and denunciatory even toward an invited presenter because they could not stomach her statements about white privilege related to her award-winning book.  We need to call out this comportment not as “white fragility,” but rather as the "white hostility" or "Trumpism" that it is.

All of this argues implicitly, by the way, for a more diverse faculty.  We simply cannot in this day and age be cultivating cohorts upon cohorts of undergraduates without any critical sense of history who do not know how to deal in and with an increasingly complex world.  In fact, these students have not been well served by their higher education institutions and that message somehow needs to get communicated to them.  A diverse faculty is an obvious start.  Requiring students to take Ethnic Studies both in K-12 and higher education is another way.

I was very pleased to see that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln stood up for her.  While a sign of the times, no one deserves this kind of treatment.  I think we should all purchase and read her book in solidarity.

-Angela Valenzuela

Georgia Southern students burn UNL professor's novel following campus discussion about race

CHRIS DUNKER Lincoln Journal Star

Jennine Capó Crucet's award-winning novel "Make Your Home Among Strangers" follows a young Cuban-American woman from Miami as she tries to navigate life inside a predominately white, prestigious New York university.
The author and University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of English and Ethnic Studies was invited to discuss the book that explores race and privilege before a convocation of students at Georgia Southern University, where it was required reading for some freshmen.

But her visit was cut short earlier this week after videos showing Georgia Southern students burning copies of the novel began circulating on social media.
According to the George-Anne, Georgia Southern's student newspaper, students confronted Capó Crucet over what they felt were unfair characterizations of white people in the book.
"I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged," the student newspaper reported one student as saying. "What makes you believe that it's OK to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we're taught. I don't understand what the purpose of this audience was."
According to the newspaper, Capó Crucet responded: "I came here because I was invited and I talked about white privilege because it's a real thing that you are actually benefiting from right now in even asking this question."
The question-and-answer session continued on a congenial note, the George-Anne reported, although some students left the event.
Later that evening, Capó Crucet thanked the university on Twitter, saying she "met some very amazing, brilliant students" and shared moments with some after the tense exchange during the forum.
But a short time later, video of students standing around an open fire burning their copies of Capó Crucet's book began circulating on social media.
Still more students began sending Capó Crucet pictures of torn up copies of her book and accusing her of being racist against white people.
"Are you usually that racist or were you putting on a front to promote your pointless and (expletive) book at my college? Just a question," one female student wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "Work on your ignorance and racism towards white people."
Another student posted a 4-second clip of the book burning, telling Capó Crucet, "Maybe that wouldn't happen if you spoke about your book instead of dissing white people the entire time."
Capó Crucet was scheduled to deliver another lecture Thursday in Statesboro, where Georgia Southern is located, but the school canceled that event.
School officials also moved Capó Crucet from her original accommodations to a different hotel.
That night, she posted a now-deleted video showing her novel being incinerated, adding: "This is where we are, America."
In a statement published Friday, Capó Crucet said she has delivered similar lectures at Stanford University and Albion College, but that "nothing close to the events at GSU has occurred in any of my previous campus visits."
Immediately after the confrontation, Capó Crucet asked Georgia Southern faculty in the room to follow up with the student who questioned her, saying she felt "a compassionate and continuing conversation needed to occur."
Russell Willerton, chair of Georgia Southern's writing and linguistics department, said in a statement Thursday said he was "dismayed and disappointed by the uproar against" Capó Crucet.
"Our department values stories and how they reflect parts of the human experience," the statement reads.
"We also value discussion and debate of important issues from all sides and perspectives. We regret that Capó Crucet's experience in Statesboro ended as it did. We call on students to remain civil in disagreement, even on difficult issues, and to make Georgia Southern University a place that we all can feel proud to represent."
Other departments also condemned the book burning, but John Lester, vice president for strategic communications and marketing, told Buzzfeed that Georgia Southern was not planning to discipline students who participated in the book burning.
"While it's within the students' First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern's values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas," Lester told Buzzfeed.
Richard Moberly, interim executive vice chancellor at UNL, tweeted his support of Capó Crucet on Thursday night.
"I am proud to be on the same faculty as (Capó Crucet) — I appreciate her important work, as well as her courage," Moberly wrote. "UNL is lucky to have such a talented writer and amazing role model, especially for our 1st gen students."
And in a statement, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green called Capó Crucet "a highly acclaimed author and scholar," adding her novel invites discussion of the role race plays in society.
Green echoed the statement put forward by Georgia Southern's administration, saying that while book burning is protected speech, it doesn't help foster civil discourse and the exchange of ideas.
"It's unfortunate that an opportunity for an open, engaged discussion devolved into an incident like this," Green said.
In her statement, Capó Crucet said many Georgia Southern students told her how they felt their own stories were reflected in the novel, which she based partially on her own experiences.
Capó Crucet said she wrote the book "as an act of love and an attempt at deeper understanding" and said she hopes Georgia Southern can act to support the students who may feel unsafe after the book burning.
"To think of those students watching as a group of their peers burned that story — effectively erasing them on the campus they are expected to think of as a safe space — feels devastating," she said.