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Various CU professors came together to discuss issues surrounding race and education on Friday in a two-part symposium hosted by Racial Initiatives for Students and Educators (RISE).
During the afternoon session of the symposium, ethnic studies assistant professor Daryl Maeda, education assistant professor Linda Mizell and education professor Kris Gutierrez offered their views on the Obama administration’s approach to education and ways to engage communities in discussion about inequities within the school system.
One topic the professors discussed was the process of re-segregation, whereby integration is often prevented with the implementation of choice schools, charter schools and other methods of segregation.
“Our children are experiencing, in many ways, the same kinds of inequities,” Mizell said, explaining the cycle affecting the younger generation.
The professors also talked about the refusal of institutions to acknowledge race. By adopting a seemingly color blind mentality, the system tends to see past several issues that do affect people of different races within schools, they said.
Maeda mentioned the lack of will of the American people and the failure of the federal government to confront these issues.
“The federal government has been on a decades-long course of eviscerating civil rights laws,” Maeda said.
Gutierrez said that one problem with the current presidential administration is that it appears to believe that it is engaging these issues and taking productive steps toward closing the achievement gap, but that actually isn’t making any improvements.
“You’ve got this articulated ideology about where you think you’re going, and it’s being undermined by the very practices that are at play,” Gutierrez said.
Mizell said that a challenge for educators and researchers is communicating issues about racial inequities to the community and inspiring them to take action.
Gutierrez agreed that this was true.
“I wonder if we shouldn’t think about, as educators, what we can do to address some of these things,” Gutierrez said
Loren Johnson, a 21-year-old senior history major, said that she wants to be an elementary school teacher who focuses largely on bi-lingual education. However, she says the inequities still present in schools and the educational profession have discouraged her.
“The more I’ve been learning, the more pessimistic I’ve been,” Johnson said. “It’s made me doubt wanting to go into the field at all.”
Johnson said that the symposium helped to alleviate some of her fears.
“After being here today and listening to them, it really made me re-think my doubts and realize that this really is something I want to pursue and be a part of,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez said she was optimistic about the future of the education system, saying that while it’s important to address the inequities, she’s always looking for hope and possibility.
“We do have the tools and the will to maybe make a difference,” she said.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Kaely Moore at Kaely.firstname.lastname@example.org.