A new study examines the experiences of faculty of color in teacher education programs who were hired specifically to teach race and racism within programs that, nonetheless, prioritized whiteness and the needs of White student teachers.
Co-authors Rita Kohli, an associate professor of education at the University of California, Riverside, and Marcos Pizarro, a professor of Chicanx studies at San Jose State University, sent questionnaires to faculty members who had participated in their workshops with the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice.
Many of the respondents who met their study criteria discussed incidents where White teacher candidates escalated discomfort with assignments about racism to administrators who reassured them instead of backing up the teacher educators. Others described instances where teacher candidates left scathing teaching evaluations that jeopardized the teacher educator’s career, and other behaviors by White teacher candidates and unsupportive administrators that left teacher educators of color feeling stressed, unsupported, and afraid for their jobs. Many reported that race-evasive colleagues devalued their work and encouraged them to engage less with race, while still expecting them to do all the program’s work of racial education.
“Teacher education often washes its hand of its accountability to racism,” said Dr. Kohli. “Programs don’t always own that they have constructed policies, practices, and content that neglect the realities of race and racism, and that they often hire teacher educators of color to do this labor, which leads to resistance, racial stress, and racial harm.”
Dr. Kohli added that “for decades teacher education programs have operated in ways that are race-evasive. But now that there is a push to be more responsive to diversity, race, and racial inequity, programs hire teacher educators of color to address race, pigeonhole them in that race work, and, when students resist, they are treated like it is their individual problem.”
The full study, “The Layered Toll of Racism in Teacher Education on Teacher Educators of Color,” was published in the journal AREA Open of the American Educational Research Association. It may be accessed here.