National Board Academy: Talking About Race Among Teachers

The National Board Academy kicked off this morning with updates about the changes in National Board Certification. I’m not going into detail about those changes right now, and I’m not sure how I feel about a couple of them – but overall, the Board has responded to some key problems identified in the past. Certification will be more flexible and less expensive in the future, and there will be some additional (though not individualized) feedback beyond mere numeric score reports.

But after that update, our presenters guided us into important conversations about equity and access. It was exciting to have frank, though brief, conversations about race and privilege in education – broadly in American society and in schools, in our own classrooms and schools, in our professional organizations and affiliated networks. Joyce Loveless and Ali Michael shared the facilitation of the morning session. Loveless focused on prior work the National Board has done to address equity and access, and shared some lessons learned from various initiatives. There were many, but two that spoke to me were that the lack of quick fixes does not excuse inaction, and that trust (of individuals and communities) must be earned (by organizations).

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Michael led us into more personal conversations about the sources of difficulty and discomfort in conversations about race. Not only did she point out that there are no easy answers, but also suggested that the most important questions about race lead to more questions rather than answers. Table conversations and comments to the general audience struck me as thoughtful and sincere, and not trying to paper over the challenges we face as individuals and communities. Michael’s book, Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education, is going on my “to read” list. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read it, or what your thoughts are on these topics.

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