Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

The M/M Center: Meeting the Demand for Multicultural, Multilingual Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

The M/M Center: Meeting the Demand for Multicultural, Multilingual Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

The Multilingual/Multicultural Teacher Preparation Center (M/M Center), a teacher preparation program offered by the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department (BMED) at California State University, Sacramento, is entering its third decade of operation. The M/M Center was established by a group of progressive teacher educators, most with a history of activism and advocacy around democratic education, immigrant rights, and the elimination of racism and other forms of discrimination in local schools and our own university. The Center founders developed a comprehensive program to prepare teachers to be change agents actively working towards social justice in low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, schools, and communities. Race-conscious (Moses & Chang, 2006) and language-conscious policy-making and program development characterize the program's history and current operations. Multicultural content and the application of theory into practice through extensive field experiences in schools serving low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students anchor the program's design. Focus on these issues combined with active and strategic recruiting and support make the M/M Center an attractive option for students of color and bilingual students who typically select the teaching profession as the avenue through which they will work towards social justice for the children in their communities.

Data indicate that our program has achieved significant successes. In 2004, California public school teachers were 72% White, 15% Hispanic, approximately 5% Asian, approximately 5% African American, and 3% other ethnicities (www.eddata.k12.ca.us). Candidates in the M/M Center invert this statewide statistic: over 75% are students of color and our White students are usually bilingual, both of which are features of the program that have held constant since its inception. The diversity of the BMED faculty serves as an additional draw for students of color and bilingual students: 37% of the faculty are Latino/a, 25% each are Asian and White, and 12% are African American, a stark contrast to faculty in the California State University system as a whole who, in 2004, were almost 80% White (California Faculty Association, 2005).

By sharing details and analysis of the M/M Center, we hope to engage other social justice educators in critical reflection on effective practices in multicultural/ multilingual teacher recruitment to and retention in teacher preparation programs. The article is organized as follows: (a) the theoretical framework that orients our efforts to recruit and retain students of color and bilingual students; (b) history of the M/M Center; (c) highlights from our multiple and single subject programs; and (d) reflections on the M/M Center's accomplishments. The article describes the M/ M Center based on the experiences and perspectives of the authors--one of whom was a co-founding member of the M/M Center and of BMED, and others who have been active in recent transformations of the Center and Department. Where appropriate, we accentuate our description with data from a limited set of sources including graduate exit surveys, student work, student interviews, and anecdotal stories and accounts.

Teachers for Social Justice

Recent studies have confirmed what most parents know inherently, that teacher quality--defined broadly rather than with a narrow No Child Left Behind definition--is central to success in our educational system, particularly for low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students (Haycock, 2002). For California's school children, and increasingly those of the nation, teacher quality must be defined beyond the parameters of content knowledge to include teachers' ability to create optimal learning environments for students marginalized by the system because of their primary language, race/ethnicity, social class, culture, gender, and ability. …

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