Equity Outreach Initiatives creates professional development opportunities

January 25, 2018

Equity Outreach Initiatives (EOI) in the Michigan State University College of Education is introducing professional development opportunities to help educators, administrators and policymakers center their practices around equity in schools and work environments.

Led by Assistant Dean Dorinda Carter Andrews, EOI is focused on benefiting K-12, postsecondary and community educational stakeholders.

Headshot of Dorinda Carter Andrews

Dorinda Carter Andrews

“In the college, we have a rich array of people who not only study issues of educational equity, but also share their expertise in their communities,” said Carter Andrews, an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education. “Equity Outreach Initiatives was created to provide a systematic and structured approach to combine these efforts, building on the collective strengths of our faculty. We are focused on how we can bridge theory, research and practice to enhance what practitioners and school leaders are already doing related to educational equity.”

The college-wide approach to professional development is largely absent in Michigan, she continued. Opportunities provided by EOI will help K-12 and higher education teachers and administrators alike, specializing in a lens that puts race, culture and power into focus.

Upcoming opportunities

Kickstarting these ideals to the broader community, Equity Outreach Initiatives is introducing the Pursuing Educational Justice Series (PEJS). Including speakers, workshops, webinars and more, the series will provide events for K-12 educators and policymakers with an equity focus.

The first of these events is a discussion and workshop weekend, featuring Jeff Duncan-Andrade. An associate professor of Raza Studies and Education at San Francisco State University, Duncan-Andrade will address “Equality or Equity: Which One Will We Feed?” in a public lecture on Feb. 2, co-sponsored by the MSU Urban Education Speaker Series. He will then lead a professional development workshop for educators on Feb. 3, examining how relationships, relevance and responsibility are involved in transforming educational outcomes.

Jeff Duncan-Andrade speaks during the inaugural Pursuing Educational Justice Series event while MSU faculty Terry Flennaugh and Dorinda Carter Andrews listen

Jeff Duncan-Andrade (left) speaks during the inaugural Pursuing Educational Justice Series event while MSU faculty Terry Flennaugh and Dorinda Carter Andrews listen. | Photo by Jeff Cech (Feb. 24, 2018) 

Other upcoming PEJS events include:

  • Feb 24: Pursuing Educational Justice Summit. Breakout sessions across subject areas (e.g., mathematics, social studies, science, English education) will be led by faculty and graduate students from the College of Education, tailored toward elementary and secondary educators and administrators.
  • March 17: Black Male Summit. Previously held in 2016, this one-day conference will focus on building effective relationships with black males and boys in K-21 contexts. Assistant Professor Chezare Warren initiated the event in 2016, with Assistant Professor Terry Flennaugh and Carter Andrews as co-organizers. In 2018 and beyond, the summit will be involved with EOI.
  • Spring 2018: Free webinar from Associate Professor Leslie D. Gonzales. While there is an extensive body of work that focuses on creating a more inclusive undergraduate experience, the literature is much more limited when it comes to graduate education. In this webinar, Gonzales will draw on an interdisciplinary mix of literature to highlight inclusive and equity-oriented practices for graduate education. Gonzales will emphasize issues that are particularly relevant to graduate students interested in faculty work (e.g., research & methodology training, structure of academic labor market).

Funding for these 2017-18 projects has been provided from the MSU College of Education, the Urban Education Speaker Series, University Outreach & Engagement and the Office of K-12 Outreach. Courtney Mauldin, doctoral student in K-12 Administration, and Cassie Jo Brownell, doctoral student in Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE), have been integral in organizing all of the events.

Chezare Warren (left), Carter Andrews (center) and Terry Flennaugh (right) at the Black Male Summit in 2016.

Chezare Warren (left), Carter Andrews (center) and Terry Flennaugh (right) at the Black Male Summit in 2016.

“This work has always been important,” Carter Andrews noted, “but it is particularly timely in the national and global contexts in which we are teaching, learning and living. Educators need to be more in tune with cultural differences, and see them not as challenges, but as opportunities for meeting the academic and social needs of the whole child.”

In development

Even more elements are coming in the future for EOI. Currently in development, equity-centered in-person and webinar modules will be created for teachers and administrators to be utilized in school districts across Michigan. Carter Andrews also hopes to create a virtual professional learning community for superintendents in the state, with a focus on educational equity.

Back at MSU, Carter Andrews hopes to establish “Soup with Substance,” a brown-bag opportunity, in which educators across the university can share best practices of equity in the college classroom.

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