Scholars from the Michigan State University College of Education are co-leading an initiative for K-12 teachers and administrators to better understand and implement diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in schools.
The DEI Educator Network includes representatives from Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties and MSU. The aim is to explore what is and isn’t working in schools, and to provide resources for improving offerings as well as opportunities for networking.
“In recent years, many schools and organizations, including MSU, have made improvements in their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives,” said Bryan Beverly, director of the MSU Office of K-12 Outreach and one of the MSU leads for the DEI Educators Network. “Many organizations have set up formal roles for this purpose, but there has been little guidance as to what to focus on or how to actually improve DEI. That is where the DEI Educator Network hopes to assist.”
Since its creation in 2022, the DEI Educator Network has offered various trainings and regular opportunities for schools and scholars to meet. Initiatives thus far have included professional development on DEI-centric hiring practices, recruitment and retention and a policy forum. The group will offer another policy forum in May 2023; details to come. The group is also currently collaborating with the MSU Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion to develop a website with guidance for schools.
In addition to Beverly, Terry Flennaugh, the college’s interim associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, also serves as a co-lead from MSU.
“MSU’s College of Education is uniquely positioned to be a strong and supportive partner in this initiative because so many of our faculty and professional staff make diversity, equity and inclusion a centerpiece of their teaching, research and service,” said Flennaugh.
Professor Terah Venzant Chambers also provided foundational support for the organization.
The DEI Educator Network was developed based off an idea from College of Education alum Sean Williams. Williams, the superintendent of Eaton Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), has earned several degrees and graduate certificates from MSU, including doctoral degrees in K-12 Educational Administration and Education Policy, which he earned in 2014.
The group’s efforts (led by a steering committee; Beverly and Flennaugh are both active participants) relate to other work led by MSU. Among the examples:
- Annually, the Office of K-12 Outreach share teaching resource documents for for Black History Month (2023 materials) and Women’s History Month (2022 materials), in which DEI is a focus.
- The college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are hosting the APIDA/A Solidarity, Coalition and Justice workshop series throughout the month of February, supporting and educating about the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American/Asian community: APIDA/As in Education 101 was held on Feb. 1; APIDA/A Affinity Listening Space will be held on Feb. 15; and APIDA/A Solidarity with Other Racialized Communities will be held on Feb. 28. All are welcome.
“We hope this is a space to share with and learn from one another, and that the work of these dedicated DEI can grow to create a real impact in their school communities,” Beverly added. “The DEI Educator Network is the right thing to do for Michigan students and schools.”