Trinity, AU and Martha’s Table Partner to Offer Pathways Into Early Childhood Education Workforce

In an effort to create a more qualified workforce, the city of Washington D.C. increased its minimum education requirements for early childhood professionals in 2016.

Patricia McGuire

Under the regulations, by 2022, workers within childcare facilities must obtain at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. To progress within the field, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is also required.

The decision was controversial, especially to those individuals who had been working in the field for decades without credentials. However, research has shown that a child’s critical stage for development occurs between birth and five years old.

“People who work with children should be skilled in working with children,” said Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University. “Not just because they have done it. But also there is contemporary knowledge about everything from the emotional well-being of children to how children learn and acquire language. So just doing it on instinct alone is good, but it doesn’t really provide the educational context that children need.”

To encourage more individuals to pursue a career in early childhood education and meet D.C.’s educational requirements, Trinity, American University’s (AU) School of Education and Martha’s Table, a D.C.-based nonprofit, have collaborated to launch Elevate Early Education.

“We are all very much aware that our teacher pipeline is not a healthy one,” said Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, dean of AU’s School of Education. “We are in need of more teachers. And after COVID-19, we are seeing a lot of teacher loss. There is a huge need to create pathways for people to become educators. Affordable and accessible pathways. And that is what we are all about.”

Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy

The Elevate Early Education initiative allows students to earn “stackable credentials” to create seamless pathways between the two universities. It is designed for high school seniors interested in early childhood education and individuals already in the workforce.

For example, students who earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree at Trinity can transfer the credits towards a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at the institution or elementary education at AU. Additionally, Trinity accepts AU’s newly-implemented CDA program as part of its A.A. degree.

Set up in an asynchronous format, students can participate in AU’s CDA program—which includes 120 hours of training, coursework and exam preparation—at their own pace. On average, total completion time ranges from four months and above. Martha’s Table serves as the training site for student’s clinical hours.

By the second year of the certification program, Holcomb-McCoy’s goal is to matriculate at least 200 students and see an increase in D.C. residents planning to pursue a degree in early childhood education. Trinity also offers its own in-person CDA certification, which is embedded in its A.A. degree in early childhood education.

With a goal of affordability, AU reduced its tuition for its bachelor’s degree in elementary education and CDA program to match Trinity’s rate. Additionally, scholarships are also available for students pursuing the CDA credential.

“I think scholarships and being able to pay, to a degree, is the most important thing to get students in so that they are not overburdened with loans and payments after they finish the programs,” said Holcomb-McCoy.

Beyond financial issues, other barriers such as balancing work and family responsibilities can prevent individuals from completing or starting their educational career. To address that, the initiative offers built-in support options including access to housing resources, food, clothing, childcare transportation and technology.

Tiffany Williams

“We are trying to be in a posture where when that person comes to say that they have a particular need, we can respond to that need so that they don’t have to step away from their intended outcome of actually attaining the credentials that they want to be an early childhood educator,” said Tiffany Williams, chief program officer at Martha’s Table.

With the implementation of the new regulations, the institutions face the challenge of encouraging childcare workers who have been in the field for years to enroll in educational pathways.

“There is what they call the ladder,” said McGuire. “The more credentials they earn, the more money they earn, so helping students to understand that this is something that will benefit them in the long run. There is just a lot of community education around that.”

She also emphasized that there is a need to address pay inequities within the field.

Williams hopes that this collaboration effort could serve as a model for other institutions around the country.

“It is an amazing pathway towards a lifelong career in education,” she added. “It is literally saying if you have the interest, passion and the desire, let us walk alongside you and help you get all the credentials that you need. From a CDA all the way through a bachelor’s and even potentially a master’s degree in education.”

Sarah Wood can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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AANHPIHM “Poster Boy” Is Accused Student Who Stands Up to Dartmouth

In case you missed the presidential memo, it’s Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

That’s right, A-A-N-H-P-I-H-M. Or, “AANHPIHM.”

Is that pronounced “An hippie hymn”?  You mean like Iron Butterfly’s “Innagaddadavida”? (Shout out to all you American Studies profs who recall the Summer of Love).

As an acronym, AANHPIHM does not sing, but President Joe Biden did approve the name in a proclamation with the new name just before May began, and so, it stands. Biden is not normally tone deaf on these matters, showing a real penchant for Irish poetry in his early presidential rhetoric. Maybe it was a long day.

Still, I honor AANHPIHM and am pleased to announce we have our higher ed “poster boy.”

It’s  Sirey Zhang who has declared his innocence on the front page of the Sunday New York Times this weekend.

Zhang is blasting away at the negative stereotype of the AANHPIHM person who lacks the courage and good sense to speak up. Zhang’s showing some guts standing up to the bullying of Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.

Emil Guillermo

Zhang, 22, a Dartmouth College grad now  in his  first-year as a medical student, has been accused of cheating on an exam.

When you tell the world you didn’t lie and cheat on the front page of the Sunday New York Times, well that’s got to boost your credibility.

Donald Trump can’t do that. Zhang can.

Dartmouth’s evidence is reportedly the school’s online tracking of Zhang on Canvas, the campus digital learning platform. It suggests Zhang looked up course material during the closed book exam. An honor code violation?  Perhaps. But would you accuse someone of shoplifting if all you had was a picture of a person touching an item, and nothing more definitive that showed him pocketing an item without  paying?

Cooper Quintin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has evaluated the Dartmouth methodology, told the Times the charges are based on “the flimsiest technical evidence.”

So who do you believe? The student or the school?

I would tend to favor the kid, especially after Zhang said how the school’s student affairs office essentially coerced him into going along with Dartmouth’s assumptions of the truth. According to the Times article, it was implied to Zhang that it would be best “if he expressed remorse and pleaded guilty.”

You’re a first year med student. You are fearful for your future career. The school has you “over  a barrel,” as they say.

Of course, you’ll listen to your institution and do whatever the school wants including ceding your rights to the bullying voice of administrators. Because you trust the school. But that won’t get you justice.

According to the Times report, 7 of 17 accused cases have had their cases dismissed. Some “evidence” seems to have been created by automated processes in Canvas rather than by deliberate action by the user.

But 10 other students have been either suspended or expelled. Zhang was one of nine who pleaded guilty. He’s one of a few who have appealed.

It does sound vaguely like every other time schools try to take intricate matters into their own hands—for example in matters of sexual harassment.

The reports say accused students often weren’t equip to defend themselves, had less than 48 hours to respond to charges, weren’t provided key evidence– data logs for the exams—to evaluate.

It’s worse than a kangaroo court when the school is judge, jury and executioner.

But students are running scared and not speaking out for fear of retaliation from Dartmouth.

Only Zhang spoke to the Times because he felt traumatized.

“I’m terrified,” he said. “But if me speaking up means that there’s at least one student in the future who doesn’t have to feel the way I did, then it’s all worthwhile.”

There are other issues at play here. Like how a school invades privacy to track students online during a pandemic. That’s a concern.  But I’m more concerned about how a school uses info to maybe accused students unjustly. That’s when you see how ugly a school administration can be at heart.

Let’s face it, schools can’t be trusted to mete out justice when their own self interest is on the line.

Someone has to speak out for the students.

At Dartmouth, right now, it’s a lone AANHPI student standing up for the truth.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @Emilamok


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Scholars Call for Academia To Address Anti-Asian Bias With Structural Change

Professors of Asian heritage at U.S. colleges and universities have faced daunting challenges in the past year, and those struggles have intensified in recent months as violence and hate incidents against Asian Americans have escalated.

The anti-Asian rhetoric of the Trump administration in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic fueled similar verbal attacks throughout the country, which ultimately led to physical assaults. But the mass killings of eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta in March sparked fear and outrage among Asian Americans, including those on college campuses.

Anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020 while overall hate crimes dropped 7%, according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The Stop AAPI Hate research group, which includes scholars from San Francisco State University, documented more than 3,795 hate incidents from the end of March 2020 to the end of February 2021. Reported incidents were verbal harassment (68.1%); shunning — i.e., the deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans — (20.5%); physical assault (11.1%); civil rights violations including workplace discrimination, refusal of service and being barred from transportation (8.5%); and online harassment (6.8%) of the total incidents.

“There has been a sharp ticking-up of requests to give talks to educate people very quickly about Asian American history,” says Dr. Madeline Hsu, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin and former director of the Center for Asian American Studies. “A lot of people have been writing op-ed pieces in order to produce quick, easily digestible publications,” Hsu says, adding that others “have been approached by their institutions to conduct emotional, counseling support on campus.”

Hsu adds that, overall, in the wake of the Atlanta killings and other violent attacks, many of her colleagues “have been overwhelmed because of so many sudden demands on them.”

Hsu serves as president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, which publishes the Journal of American Ethnic History. “Anti-Chinese government sentiment makes it very difficult for Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants,” Hsu says. “They may be ethnically Chinese but that does not mean they are politically Chinese.”

Academia’s response

Academia has been at the forefront of institutions decrying the violence and some have gone further by making recommendations and implementing programs for change. The Columbia University Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) posted a strong condemnation of the March massacre in Atlanta “and the continued violence and discrimination against Asians and Asian-Americans,” adding that “it is impossible to extricate this act of violence from a long history of racial discrimination and misogyny.”

Dr. Madeline Hsu

The WEAI’s statement notes the historical context of anti-Asian hate dating back to “the targeted persecution of scientists of Chinese descent in academia and industry” and the nation’s long history of anti-Asian activity including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese internment during WWII. The statement also denounces “hateful speech and rhetoric that have become common at the highest levels of our government, as well as in society at large. As illustrated by the use of such terms for the coronavirus as ‘China Virus’ and ‘Kung Flu,’ anti-Asian-American hatred grows out of — even as it promotes — ignorance and fear.”

The Institute recently announced a new remote lecture series titled “Asia in Action: Knowledge and Inclusion in a Time of Ignorance and Fear,” during the remaining spring semester and throughout the summer focused on “discrimination and violence towards Asians and individuals of Asian descent, systemic racism, and topics of race and ethnicity in relation to Global East Asia more broadly.”

Dr. Guojun Wang, assistant professor of Asian studies at Vanderbilt University, expresses deep concern for his Asian American students as well as his international students from Asian countries. And as an immigrant from China, he is personally aware of the threats and potential danger. “I felt the antagonism. During the past year I bought a taser to protect my family and I carry it when I am with my kids,” says Wang.

Dr. Guojun Wang

Regarding his students, “They are really afraid,” Wang says. “Many of them have experienced verbal and even physical threats on the streets around campus; the fear is really rampant because they don’t know what’s going to happen at any moment, just because they look different from other people.” Wang was so concerned about his students that he designed a new course called Overseas Encounters in response to the current situation.

For international students, especially those from Asia, he says, there are all sorts of travel and logistical problems. Many of the international students cannot come back to campus so they have been attending school remotely from other countries. Those who remained in the U.S. “are lonely, with no family here.” And for those who returned to their home country, many have not been able come back to the U.S. because the consulates are closed. “Then there is a requirement for them to quarantine in a third country for 14 days before they can come to the U.S.  I have many students in China who have to quarantine in Singapore for two weeks before they can fly to America.”

Wang also notes that some students have opted not to return because of the news about the killings and other violence. Wang suggests possible solutions in the form of education policy.  He says the Department of Education needs to develop policy “to educate the educators” in K-12 to help them understand American history that includes the truth of Asian migration and experiences in the diaspora.

Maintaining engagement

Dr. Diego Luis, visiting assistant professor of history at Davidson University, sees strong historical connections between the vilification of Asians in today’s society and centuries-old anti-Asian violence rooted in colonialism and “ideas of preserving a sense of heteronormativity within a particular colonial space.”

Luis also believes academic institutions can do more than simply “sending out statements that address how communities are hurting … without any teeth and without continued engagement with the issue after it leaves the national spotlight.” Luis recommends “the formation of academic centers and institutes dedicated to issues pertaining to Asian American communities, an increase in tenure track lines that deal with Asian American studies and incorporating these conversations … into the curriculum in a way that always should have been done.” He also suggests that “more can be done related to community engagement and bringing in Asian American therapists for students traumatized by racial incidents.” Luis suggests that such changes “can give institutions the tools to engage with these issues over time in a sustained way rather than just putting a band-aid on the issue.”

Luis commends a student group, the Asian American Initiative, for being “extremely active over the past few years” in advocating for Asian American studies with full-time, tenure-track faculty.

Dr. Keith Camacho, professor and vice chair of Asian American Studies at UCLA, sees community and academia as partners in the social justice arena.

“Asian American studies has an obligation to expand to indigenous communities and to have coalitions and solidarity with our sister fields — Black studies, Chicano, Latinx studies and gender studies — it’s a concerted effort,” Camacho asserts. “We need to have coalitions and mobilizations around social justice.” Camacho says the coalitions also should bring working-class communities together with research universities and community colleges. “Academics should not lead this discussion. It has to come from the community; academics and intellectuals are just there to support working people.”

WEAI lists actions that its campus community can take — and which may apply to other institutions as well — including reporting any incidents of hate and bias to the Stop AAPI Hate website, taking advantage of antiracism training and multicultural resources on campus and volunteering in the neighboring community.

This article originally appeared in the May 13, 2021 edition of Diverse. Read it here.

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Achieving the Dream’s Advisory Group Releases Research Agenda Around Student Parents

Dr. Karen A. Stout

To increase equitable access and completion rates, Achieving the Dream’s (ATD) Community College Women Succeed advisory group recently released a research agenda focused on the needs of student parents.

With women representing over half of community college students, one-third are mothers while 60% are single parents, according to ATD.

The group—which consists of leaders from 12 organizations—plans to collect data on recruitment and enrollment practices, labor market outcomes, the experiences of community college women and student success practices.

“Even before the pandemic, student parents were already living in or near poverty, facing insecurity in meeting basic needs, and more likely to be working than students without children,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of ATD. “Understanding student parents’ unique and layered identities make finding and understanding the data and investigations outlined in the research agenda all the more urgent. Student parents must be part of our student success agendas that center on equity and meet our student parents where they are.”

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Dr. Nakeshia N. Williams Appointed Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Hollins University

Dr. Nakeshia N. Williams has been appointed vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Hollins University.

Nakeshia N. Williams

Williams was an associate professor in the educator preparation department in the College of Education at North Carolina A&T State University.

A licensed professional counselor, Williams  holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in urban education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and a bachelor’s degree in English education from South Carolina State University.




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