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Update from the Chair

 Dear Diversity Caucus, 
 
I write to you at the beginning of a new semester, following an immensely challenging 18 months and leading into a time of continued uncertainty. Over the past 18 months, under the umbrella of COVID-19, the systemic inequities and racism that undergird much of our life have been made bare. The impact of COVID-19 on the systems and structures that undergird our collective lives has been immense; this has been even more pronounced in communities of color. Beyond the pandemic, we have seen persistent and pervasive violence against people of color, xenophobic attacks against Asian American communities, and a wave of legislation targeting Trans children’s rights and the anti-racist work taken up by many in the field. 

As scholars dedicated to supporting diverse learners across K-12 and higher education, this has been a particularly difficult time. Many of us have been working overtime to take on the new challenges of remote and hybrid teaching, grants put on pause, and doing the involved work of teacher education and development at a distance. This is particularly challenging as  individuals in pre- and in-service settings have needed support more than ever in ways we never anticipated needing support. It has felt, at many points throughout the year, like too much to bear. 
 
But this is also a time of opportunity. For me, this means recognizing that I cannot unsee what has been made clear to me. That the systems and structures underlying our most cherished institutions are flawed and that advocacy and action — born out of awareness and education — is a necessary step. Along with the board of the diversity caucus, I see this moment as an opportunity to reset and refocus.
 
Like many of you, we are drawing on the experiences of the past year to recognize our responsibility to work actively against systemic oppression, and to better understand the communities in which we live and work and bringing this knowledge to our work in the Diversity Caucus. To do this, we have begun by embracing the role of collaborative partnership with other TED committees and caucuses. Our first collaboration was with the small programs caucus to facilitate three online writing retreats for TED members. We also worked with the small programs committee to host a virtual round table about the HLPs using a social justice lens; the event included four break-out rooms on assessment, social/emotional behavioral needs, instruction, and collaboration. 

In collaboration with the Professional Development committee, we started a book club that focuses on culturally responsive pedagogy in higher education. We currently have nine groups reading Teaching Across Cultural Strengths (Chavez & Longerbeam, 2016) and meeting monthly to discuss the book and reflect on practice. Though this book club will end in May of 2021, we anticipate making this a yearly event. Let us know [MM1] if you have a book that you think would be a powerful read for our group! Finally, we have dedicated ourselves to working with the TED board to center issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are excited that LaRon Scott (our colleague at Virginia Commonwealth University and longtime TED Member) has been appointed as the Member at Large with a focus on membership and diversity, a new position on the TED board, and we look forward to working with him as we reset and refocus. 
 
Going forward, we recognize we have a lot of work to do. We are continuing to work with TED to establish a web presence and to make sure we are able to do the work of the Diversity Caucus at a distance and in person. We want to conduct this work in ways that reflect the need to reset and refocus in this moment and in ways that affect schools, teachers, and students who have been historically and multiply marginalized. 
 
We also want to work to increase the influence of the Diversity Caucus in TED and think strategically about how our role in the broader organization can shift in light of the moment we are in. To do this, we have three organizational goals for the upcoming quarter: a) increase our membership by 25 individuals by the end of November, 2021; b) gather member perspectives to help the board understand the needs others have in addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion; and c) maintain existing collaborations with other TED groups and establish others. 
 
To reset and refocus, we need your help.

The first thing you can do is to make your membership in the Diversity Caucus official. This link will take you to a website where you can do just that. 

 The second thing you can do is spread the word about the Diversity Caucus. Tell your friends and colleagues. You can connect with us via email at TEDDiversityCaucus@gmail.com, via FaceBook, or check out our new website. 

The third thing you can do is complete this membership survey. We need to hear from you. We need committed board members to help us do this work. In particular, we are seeking people to serve as the Secretary and Communications Editor. On the membership survey, you can make your voice heard and express your interest in these positions. This should take you no more than 5 minutes. 
 
We are excited to see you all at TED 2021 in Fort Worth and to continue this work, together or at a distance! 
 
Warmly,
 
Hannah Morris Mathews
Chair, Diversity Caucus
Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Posted:  20 August, 2021
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Dr. Morris-Mathews
Author: Hannah Morris Mathews

Chair, Diversity Caucus Assistant Professor, University of Florida

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