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  • Our Hands Are Up….and Soon Our Time Will Be Too…

    Faculty & Staff of the UIC College of Education,

     

    I am writing to you because I have heard from many faculty and staff within the College of Education that you all as a staff are making efforts to reform the program. I am writing to critique what I have observed thus far, from my perspective of the program. Last year, there were many applicants to the Urban Education program at UIC and of those applicants many were turned away, a good few of those being African-American. I have come to find that this year there will be three cohorts within the program which I am sure has a fine mix of students, but is lacking still in regards to the number of African-Americans within the cohorts. My first question is, why could you all not accept just as many last year, but you could do so this year. When meeting with faculty within the College it has become clear to me that the Urban Education program is not made to serve students who look like me, but rather to serve students who do not look like me so that they can serve students who do look like me. It seems as if the Urban Education Program is really a Racial Anthropology Program for non-Black students who venture into Black communities to observe and take notes, but never to return again. I have seen this in my experience thus far within the College in that many students enter into Black schools talk about what they see, many times in derogatory ways, and then never again return to those communities to serve. Why is the College spending so much time educating others how to teach Black children, as opposed to going out into Black communities and having them have access to the tools that they need to assist their own communities?

    Last month, I contacted a faculty member within the College about an opportunity to team up with a CPS Principal who was willing to pay Black students as they fulfilled their student-teaching and observation hours within his school and also help set them up for future employment as teachers. When this idea was presented it was quickly shot down, how could that happen if the purpose of the program is to retain and recruit students of color to go back and teach their own people? Why does the College continue to perpetuate the idea that Black students need more culturally responsive non-Black teachers as opposed to Black teachers who are already culturally aware and have access to the tools needed to uplift their community? I am baffled that this mentality is still running through the College even after all that has transpired.

    Has the College of Education acknowledged the declining number of African-American students within the university, let alone their program? Have you all done a holistic study of the courses and included students voices in these meetings? I for sure know that last year around this very same time, I was told that I would be sitting in on these meetings and giving voice to my perception of the College but have yet to hear or receive a single invitation to such a meeting. The Earth and Environmental Sciences department has reached out to me before you all did and the Math Department reached out to peers of mine before you all did. It seems as though I am paying to receive a piece of paper and to remain silent throughout the remainder of my time here at UIC. Why is it that when a colleague of mine was called a derogatory term no accountability system was put in place, or is put in place. As you continue to slap the wrists of those who perpetuate racist or classist ideals, you perpetuate an educational system that slaps cuffs on Black bodies.

    I know I have asked a lot and stated a lot within this letter, but I need answers because too many people have gone through this program and continue to go through this program without seeing any change happening. There are institutional issues at play here that need to be addressed and a student’s voice needs to be there, and while I am here I am willing to be that voice. The way things are going now it will only be a matter of time before there are no Black students within the College of Education and no Black students on UIC campus as students. Can you sleep knowing that you had a chance to change something, but did not? I know, you are probably thinking and planning on saying that changes like this occur over time but my response to that is how much time do you think Black students have left? The Chicago Police Department has just teamed up with the FBI and they are entering into areas where Black children live with the aim of killing more innocent Black children. There is a war being waged on Black children and Black people, what side are you on? Are you willing to create opportunities for Black students to come to campus and learn about the various possibilities that they have in life? Are you willing to create scholarship opportunities so that Blacks can afford to go to college so that they can go back and help their communities? Are you willing to create an atmosphere within the college of Education where Black students feel as though they are accepted and welcome?…prove it…

     

    Our hands are up….and soon time will be too…

     

    Peace, Love & Revolution

     

    Evan Taylor

     

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