Should school be reimagined?
According to some in Pennsylvania, the answer is yes.
The College of Education at Pennsylvania State University is intent upon accomplishing such a thing.
The school’s putting its money where its mouth is — by converting itself as well.
On September 27th, Penn State News published “Understanding Our Strategic Plan: Goal 1, Objective 1.”
Per the equity-aiming announcement, on-campus academia will be updated via recruiting, supporting and retaining “faculty and staff from historically underrepresented groups, particularly people of color.”
To alter enrollment, PSU will “recruit, support and retain students from historically underrepresented groups, including students of color, students from families living in poverty, rural students, students with disabilities, male students in elementary teaching areas and other identified students at all levels.”
The school hopes to “better align with needs and interest of students of color and other historically marginalized students.”
Furthermore, it will survey graduates and undergraduates to assess equity, diversity, and inclusivity.
As explained by Dean Kimberly A. Lawless, the institution “will develop an inclusive College of Education that derives strength from multiple identities and lived experiences and mirrors the representation of individuals in our society.”
But why wait for Pennsylvanians to reach eighteen before they’re touched by the hand of social justice?
The university has a vision for primary education, to the detriment of old and less woke ways.
As stated in the “Our Mission” section of the Strategic Plan:
We reimagine the existing EC-12 (Early Childhood through grade 12) and adult education systems, including the College of Education, by identifying and addressing the systemic inequities that impede many individuals from realizing their full potential.
Penn State promises a focus on “equity and access, anti-racism orientations and practices, essential literacies, and the mental health and well-being of all individuals across the lifespan.”
In its transformative work, the school will incorporate the following values:
- Antiracism/Racial Justice
- Transforming Education
- Learning Across the Lifespan
- Systemic Understanding and Awareness
- Global Understanding and Inclusivity
Expounding upon “antiracism,” the plan states, “We strive to actively identify, describe, counter, and dismantle individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism in all components of our work.”
And concerning systemic understanding:
We embrace the synergy among efforts to mitigate climate change, and to promote social justice, essential literacies grounded in deep and integrated disciplinary knowledge, mental health and well-being in changing education for healthy communities and the world.
All of it will revolutionize education.
Antiracism, as you may know, is “the active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance. This, of course, also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”
That, according to UCLA Law Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Where a K-12 antiracist revamp’s concerned, Penn State’s far from alone:
America is in flux, and the direction seems clear — particularly in public schools.
These days, children learn much more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.
In fact, judging by headlines over the past year, I’d say social justice may sometimes serve as substitute rather than supplement.
Culture and education have truly intertwined:
As for Pennsylvania, it may soon see a new take on instructing kids — compliments of its most prominent college, enrollment 80,000+.
Penn State is out to make a change, from kindergarten on up.
And in doing so — if successful — it will partly change America.
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