I’m afraid I led my people into a burning house

know about I’m afraid I led my people into a burning house

Higher education is on fire and too many people are too comfortable being heated by its embers to put out the flames. we have the Great Resignation and Great Retirement happening at the same time. The cost of higher education tuition is at an all-time high and the exploitation of adjunct professors only seems to increase. While we have not experienced the total devastation predicted by some higher education scholars who MOOCs and other disruptive innovations they were supposed to create, the twin pandemics of Covid-19 and racism in recent years give oxygen for the fire to continue burning.

Although some problems affect all of higher education; Other challenges are becoming more acute in Republican-controlled states where tenure is under attack, scare tactics are used to force teachers not to include Critical Race Theory in their instruction, and teaching assessments of students are misused as a customer service tool to determine the bottom line. quality of instruction. It is within that context that we teach and prepare the next generation of higher education professionals.Dr. Sydney Freeman, Jr.

During a similar time of unrest as the one we find today, in 1967 Dr Martin Luther King said these words:

Until we commit to ensuring that the underclass receives justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation. I’m afraid I’m integrating my people into a house on fire.

The depth of this statement rings true today. Not only because it addresses the character of the nation, but also because it aligns with the charred remains of the house that many faculty, staff, and administrators of color at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) call their employers. While the PWIs similar to K-12 institutions have integrated, we continue to see them refuse to douse the flames of anti-Black racism and bigotry that permeate many campuses. While there are hundreds of studies addressing the Inhospitable campus climates for people of color at PWI requests for systemic change continue to be ignored.

Institutions of higher education love to be involved in what Drs. Brandon Wolfe and Paulette Dilworth call for diversity “Three Fs” of Food, Festivals, and Celebrities. But very few have demonstrated a commitment to what they describe as the “Three Es” of education, engagement and empowerment. Dr. King was asking for justice and opportunity that would ultimately lead to the liberation and sovereignty of all people.

We continue to witness and experience PWIs say they support diversity, equity, and inclusion, but too few address the structural and institutional policies and practices that systematically harm people of color, particularly Black and Latino populations in the world. campus. It has been my experience that many white teachers and leaders are more concerned with the “white whip” of other white people who support and fight for what is morally and ethically right: decentering the privileged and doing the work to center the needs of the most marginalized.

Because of these concerns, I fear that I have counseled black people in a burning integrated house of PWI that often only values ​​them if they are exploited through high-revenue sports or large multi-million dollar grants. What Bianca C. Williams, Dian D. Squire, and Frank A. Tweett Scholarship suggest, the chard residue of the Southern Plantations policy still exists on these campuses. Is now the time to rethink our complicity in supporting a system that was never designed for the marginalized? As someone who has committed as a vocation to developing leaders and faculty in higher education institutions, I have been challenged to think about steps to redeem PWIs.

If there is going to be change, we must have white administrators and teachers leading the charge in putting out the flames of polite white supremacy. Acknowledge, eliminate, and correct problems such as under-recruitment of faculty of color, promotion of academic administrators of color, and investment in students of color.

· Once the fire is eliminated, there must be preservation of salvageable parts of the home and items, such as research-informed decision-making that incorporates racial and social justice approaches. And strategies that have been shown to lead to equitable outcomes for all.

· And finally, rebuild and/or reform the house focusing on the most disadvantaged. Evaluating all policies and practices to ensure fairness and justice is at the core of its mission and values.

Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr. is a full professor of leadership and organizational learning for adults at the University of Idaho. His research interests include college and university presidency, teacher development, teaching careers, and higher education as a field of study.

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