When I went to college to become a teacher, I learned the content I would need to teach and the best methods for creating successful academic outcomes for students. And, during my 35 years as an educator, that’s what we’ve continued to do.
But that is no longer enough.
Teacher-preparation programs must intentionally, and deeply, address equity, race, racism and social justice because, as I often say, teachers are the backbone of our democratic society. Teachers spark and nurture young minds, support families and contribute to every community nationwide.
Over the past couple of weeks, the world has watched George Floyd’s murder play out over and over again. We have learned more about the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Protests are taking place in big cities and small towns, and locally right here in DeKalb.
Many of the protests are being led by young people who are calling for change – change in policing, change in the criminal justice system, and change to dismantle systemic and institutional racism.
And to do those things, we will need to change how we prepare and provide professional development for teachers. As we educate teachers, we must ensure that they examine racism, develop a stance toward antiracism and teach for equity. We must make sure they are ready to address issues of racism in the curriculum and are prepared to have uncomfortable but important discussions about race, equity, inclusion and opportunity with their students, parents and community members.
I’m Laurie Elish-Piper, and that’s my perspective.