THE TEACHERS OUR CHILDREN NEED
An exciting new book edited by Angela Valenzuela reminds us of the power of teachers. And it shows us how communities can work together to make sure our children have the teachers they need if we’re serious about educating them – all of them -- to know their cultural heritage as the extraordinary asset they bring to school.
Growing Critically Conscious Teachers, just published by Teachers College Press, was written by leading activist Latino scholars to provide communities with a way to make teaching, and educating the next generation of teachers, academically rich and culturally empowering. The subtitle, “A Social Justice Curriculum for Educators of Latino/a Youth,” addresses the gap between a predominantly white teaching profession and the increasing Latino child population not just here in Texas, but throughout the US.
As of 2014 "TEA reports Texas schools are 51.8 percent Hispanic, 29.4 percent Anglo, 12.7 percent African-American, 3.7 percent Asian." Even more noteworthy is that "Hispanics will outnumber Anglos by 2020 — that’s five years from now — and will account for more than half of the state’s population by 2042." (Stats via Texas Tribune). In fact, NCES says "The number of Hispanic students enrolled during (2002-2012) increased from 8.6 million to 12.1 million students, and their share of public school enrollment increased from 18 to 24 percent."
Growing Critically Conscious Teachers results from the years of study and activism of the National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project (“Nal-Rep”) and is firmly grounded in theories of teaching and learning and in leading research on language acquisition and child development. From these foundations, parents and teachers and policy makers can learn from chapters on culturally relevant curriculum, teacher education, participant action research, and social justice education specific, practical ways to make the vision of equitable schooling a reality in their communities.
As Angela Valenzuela so beautifully expresses in the concluding chapter,
"Ours is a deep and defining commitment to equity, social justice, and a more beautiful world that centers community, teachers, teaching and teacher preparation as essential parts of the solution to the deep sense of alienation that so many of our children and teachers experience in our nation's schools."
I was honored to join with Angela and her co-authors and publishers at beautiful celebration of the publication of the book when we were in Washington, D.C. for the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. I am even more pleased to have this book for my students and the teachers who mentor them in our public schools. In her first book, Angela Valenzuela documented the “subtractive schooling” that hinders Latino youth from thriving as students and learners. Growing Critically Conscious Teachers shows how we can move beyond “subtractive schooling” to make our schools “additive” not just for the children, but for all of our communities.