Right, Just, and True:
Why I Did Not Attend or Speak at #AAIE2020
5 Minute Read
The shorter story:
I’ll answer the above question in a short, simple manner: I don’t see investment in diversity by those proclaiming to lead diversity and inclusion in education. All I see, after numerous attempts to engage, is silence.
Sent a letter to leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning requesting a dialogue about how diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content and concerns that the new faculty were lacking in the diversity department.
The mission of AAIE is a global community that connects diverse people, ideas and resources, AAIE helps international educators lead with vision, wisdom, courage and integrity.
July 2019 – November 2019:
Follow up emails sent and no response.
Received a response indicating interest from PLS 3rd Learning, stating their interest in engaging in a conversation and asking for a point person to coordinate with.
After receiving this email we followed up several times, but the silence continued.
I decided not to attend AAIE’s 2020 Conference and withdrew from a panel entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities.
We requested AIELOC members not to financially support organizations who are silent on issues important to us.
The longer story:
“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior
Almost one year ago on 6 March 2019 I would write a blog post entitled #AAIEGlobalsowhite. In this post it stated that:
“Last year after attending #AAIE2018 there was a shock after noticing how much the international education leadership community lacked in the diversity department. There was talk at a session about critical issues (diversity being one of the topics). A hard decision was made not to attend #AAIE19 being that I was a member and studying in the AAIE Institute for International School Leadership.”
I questioned if the strategic plan would ever shift at AAIE as well as at ALL international schools around diversity, equity, and inclusion in international leadership.
I ended this blog by highlighting that the next generation of international leaders are diverse, disruptive, and want their voice included. We are ready to collaborate and add to the CONVERSATION. Is AAIE ready to listen?
In the last year the Diversity Collaborative increased in activity, membership, and a first report was produced by this committee, ISC Research, and George Mason University called From Resistance to Sustainability and Leadership Cultivating Diverse Leaders in International Schools. However, there are too many areas left unwritten such as race in international school leadership. This is one area the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is focused on as we amplify and advocate for those who are treated as invisible or ignored at times. The Diversity Collaborative focuses on creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just environment among the leadership of the international school community. While this group acknowledges work needs to be done, I notice very few willing to be publicly vocal about organizations and systems which they benefit from. I want to give a shout out to those international educators and leaders who consistently use their voice, listen, connect, and take action. Thank you to Luke Roberts, Brian Bedrick, Liam Hammer, Hope Teague-Bowling, and Adrienne Michetti.
I ponder many questions, such as diversity for who? Who is to benefit and at whose expense? Why so many remain silent and comfortable? Who is included and excluded in conversations?
The message below was sent to the leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning in July 2019.
On the about me section on your website it states that you “exchange international ideas, resources and research that help develop and improve international education, to diversify and expand school leadership capacity.” We are hoping to have a conversation after reviewing the AAIE Institute for School Leadership team of instructors found here https://www.aaieinstitute.org/about/institute-team/
We currently list the institute as a suggested international school leadership program for our AIELOC members. Our founder is enrolled in the program and is elated to see additional instructors beyond having one who taught all courses in the past. After reviewing the seven faculty members it was noted that there was a lack of racial diversity present. We would like to know the process for serving as an instructor. As future opportunities arise to serve on this team, please let us know so that we can share this with our membership. In addition, we are curious to know how topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content of the seven courses.
We followed up numerous times with hopes to engage. However, there has been silence except the one time the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning sent this message:
Dear friends at AIELOC,
We would be very happy to engage in a conversation about our coursework and instructor cadre. Of course, we would also love to add new instructors and have greater diversity on our team. It would help if you would identify a contact person in your organization that we can engage with. Thank you. Sincerely, Don Jacobs
After receiving this email, we followed up several times, but the silence continued.
After reflecting on this lack of response I declined to attend the recent AAIE 2020 Conference in New York and serve on a panel, which I supported in organizing, entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities. In addition, we have recently shared with the AIELOC members to not financially support any international education organizations who are silent on issues that are important to us. I am grateful to Liz Duffy and Dana Watts at International School Services for including me in the planning process and for their leadership.
The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.
- We continue to challenge and call in organizations whose values and actions are not aligned.
- We continue to ensure all of our members are supported in order to develop and reach their full potential.
- We continue to share the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity as highly valuable and a necessity in all international education organizations.
- We continue to invite allies in who want to change the narrative
- We continue to engage in conversations that lead to action
A man lives when he stands up for that which is right. A man lives when he stands up for justice. A man lives when he takes a stand for that which is true.