St. Olaf Education Department Antiracist Statement
The St. Olaf Education Department is deeply troubled by the on-going systemic racism in our society and on our campus. We stand in solidarity with BIPOC students expressing disappointment and pain at the continuing discrimination and violence they and others experience. Good intentions are not universal, and are not enough. As educators preparing others to become educators, we bear a unique responsibility to model antiracist and transformative praxis. We commit ourselves to the project of dismantling racism by interrogating and strengthening our program.
Specific Action Items:
1. The Conceptual Framework statement of our department guides our work and represents the department officially to the body that accredits teacher education programs in Minnesota, the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). We have rewritten the Conceptual Framework of our department as follows:
The St. Olaf College Education Department prepares reflective teachers who make adjustments to their plans, instruction, and assessments to continually increase their teaching effectiveness. We employ a culturally responsive-sustaining (CR-S) framework to equip teacher candidates to bring antiracist practices into their future classrooms; elevate historically marginalized voices; and cultivate student-centered learning which affirms their students’ cultural identities, develops their critical thinking skills, and empowers them to be agents of social change.
2. We are embarking on a process to identify and embed CR-S practices throughout our program. This process is being calendared, and will roll out over the course of AY 20-21.
a. In this process we will engage with Kendi’s (2019) challenge to face the racist implications of under-problematized, routine components of American education, including: narrow definitions of intelligence, simplistic notions of an achievement gap, under-resourcing of schools serving students of color, and the discriminating effects of standardized curricula and testing (pp. 101-103).
3. We are strengthening current partnerships in highly diverse schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Honolulu, Chicago, Tucson and international schools in India. We plan to enter into a specific partnership with Faribault Public Schools, and will continue to seek other opportunities.
4. We are increasing our efforts to recruit and support future teachers of color (FTOC), including the creation of an FTOC affinity group.
5. We will convene book and/or podcast discussions around antiracist teaching among students, faculty, and staff.
6. We will develop opportunities for students and faculty to deepen skills in antiracist teaching by hosting guest speakers, panel discussions, trainings, internships, etc.
Kendi, I.X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. New York: Random House.
St. Olaf Land Acknowledgement:
We stand on the homelands of the Wahpekute Band of the Dakota Nation. We honor with gratitude the people who have stewarded the land throughout the generations and their ongoing contributions to this region. We acknowledge the ongoing injustices that we have committed against the Dakota Nation, and we wish to interrupt this legacy, beginning with acts of healing and honest storytelling about this place.
Why do we provide this Statement?
To recognize the land on which we reside is to express gratitude and appreciation for the Indigenous people who lived on, worked on, and cared for the land from time immemorial. This acknowledgement, however, does not exist in the past tense; it is essential that we, as educators, identify our own positionality within the legacy of colonization. Beginning in 1860 and continuing through 1978, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to boarding schools. Western education was, and continues to be, utilized as a weapon of assimilation and cultural genocide against Indigenous People. A land acknowledgement helps us to build mindfulness of this truth, and allows space to reflect and alter our present participation in the colonization of Indigenous lands and cultures.