Document Type

Article

Publication Date

April 2011

Abstract

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) was founded in 1954 to serve as an independent body in promoting high quality teacher preparation programs (NCATE 2008). Its mission is to ensure accredited institutions produce high quality educators, administrators, and specialists able to meet the needs of all learners. Institutions seeking NCATE accreditation must address six standards NCATE identified as essential to producing quality educators: (1) Candidate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions; (2) Assessment system and unit evaluation; (3) Field experiences and clinical practice; (4) Diversity; (5) Faculty qualifications, performance, and development; and (6) Unit governance and resources. This article focuses on the fourth standard and chronicles the goals, efforts, and accomplishments of the University of South Florida (USF) College of Education in meeting it. These efforts demonstrate the value of multilevel activism in fostering a campus culture where teacher educators and students can develop competencies necessary for teaching and working with children and families from a broad range of backgrounds. We begin by providing a historical overview of the College’s diversity initiatives and the subsequent inception of the Diversity Committee and its work. We end with a reflection on its accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities.2 It is also critical to note that the College, guided by its conceptual framework, requires specific course work, experiences, and assessments across and within programs at various stages of candidacy in keeping with the goals of Standard 4; therefore, the activities of the Diversity Committee by no means encompass the totality of how we prepare teachers and other educational professionals to work with diverse populations. However, this article does not address these specific curricular issues or performance-based assessments. Rather, it highlights how a collegewide committee can engage faculty and students across programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in critical reflection and action on how systems of power and inequality shape knowledge and educational practice and the preparation of culturally competent education professionals. Before describing this organizational approach, it is important to consider USF’s regional context and why it was critical that we build a faculty and student body reflective of its larger service area.

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