Equity Summit Brings Thought Leaders to Campus

angela davis speaking at Skyline College
Skyline College has made a commitment to rethink and be intentional about the way we engage teaching and learning. In an effort to remain true to this commitment, on Friday, December 9, 2016, the college invited some of the nation’s leading scholars on educational equity and critical pedagogy to share their theories and practices. The program opened with a welcome from President Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud and Nina Floro from the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs, Lasana Hotep, opened the program reminding the audience that, “As we reimagine our educational institutions, we should consider the material needs, support services, and pedagogy we implore in charting a new course for student success.”

The Summit featured six 15-minute equity talks addressing topics ranging from political imaginations of STEM education and integrating culturally relevant pedagogy. This style of short, concise presentations kept the audience engaged throughout the day. Six of the speakers engaged in dialogue on two separate plenary sessions: Value of Race and Equity in Education and Equitable Pedagogical Practices. The speakers shared a wealth of knowledge drawing from their experiences as faculty and administrators within their respective campuses on programs, strategies and practices that value difference and the lived experiences of students.

administrators with angela davisThis format, alternating between short talks and plenary sessions, made for a community-oriented and intellectually stimulating experience adding a modern twist to the traditional model of a professional development conference. The purpose of the Equity Summit was for students, staff, faculty, and administrators to increase their understanding of educational equity and learn best practices on culturally relevant teaching. It also gave a preview of what can be expected for the Equity Training Series (ETS), a six-week professional development opportunity for Skyline College staff, faculty, and administrators that will be offered in spring 2017.

The event culminated with a Keynote Address from Distinguished Professor Emerita, scholar-activist, and public figure, Dr. Angela Davis. “I would like to begin from the assumption that there can be no social transformation with no education and that the overarching purpose of knowledge is, indeed, to make a difference in the social world…ultimately it is about creating a better world, creating a more habitable universe,” Dr. Davis said to a crowd of over 450 attendees from all over the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Southern California.

Dr. Davis covered a myriad of local and global issues in relation to the current state of education. These topics included the prison-industrial complex, post-election climate, and the history of institutionalized oppression that continues to affect communities of color in the United States and abroad. Dr. Davis’ address was followed by a Community Connection Mixer where participants were able to continue the dialogue and network.

Lucia Lachmayr, an Associate Professor of Language Arts shared, “The Equity Summit was a much-needed boost for me as an educator. It helped me to reimagine the classroom beyond a safe space to a brave space, beyond critical pedagogy to humanizing pedagogy. It also reminded me that oftentimes we are not just teaching content, but helping students unlearn ineffective ways of learning as much as teaching them new ways of learning. It was incredibly engaging, useful professional development. And to cap it all off, Angela Davis! This summit was a much-needed tonic and I’m very excited about continuing the discussions next semester.”

Article by Lasana Hotep and Katrina Pantig | Photo by Gino DeGrandis