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Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges and Beyond

Theory and Practice in Achieving Educational Equity


Jeremiah J. Sims, Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza, Lasana O. Hotep, Jeramy Wallace and Tabitha Conaway

It is difficult to find justice-centered books geared specifically for community college practitioners interested in achieving campus wide educational equity. It is even more difficult to find a book in this vein written, exclusively, by community college practitioners. Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges and Beyond is just that: a concerted effort by a cross-representational group of community college practitioners working to catalyze conversations and eventually practices that attend to the most pressing equity gaps in and on our campuses. By illuminating the constitutive parts of the ever-increasing obligation gap, this book offers both theory and practice in reforming community colleges so that they function as disruptive technologies. It is our position that equity-centered community colleges hold the potential to call out, impede, and even disrupt institutionalized polices, pedagogies, and practices that negatively impact poor, ethno-racially minoritized students of color. If you and your college is interested in striving for educational equity campus-wide please join us in this ongoing conversation on how to work for equity for all of the students that we serve.

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Chapter One Naming the Obligation Gap



Naming the Obligation GapJEREMIAH J. SIMS

In this book, we will pay special attention to what we have identified as the obligation gap, that is, the gap in what community colleges as service institutions provide vis-à-vis the actual needs of the students that these institutions serve. We now know that failure to attend to this gap disproportionately impedes the scholastic and subsequent economic progress of poor ethno-racially minoritized students of color (PERMSCs). More pointedly, because community colleges are often the first step for PERMSCs, we are obligated to provide equitable educational opportunities for all the students we serve. What is more, we are obligated to identify, call out, and work tirelessly to redress persistent equity gaps. Therefore, we offer this work, this book, as an entrée into a conversation that is predicated on a thorough discussion of our obligation to both revitalize and contribute to critical dialogue that repositions and even requires community colleges to function as disruptive technologies that serve to disrupt deeply entrenched, macrostructural educational inequity. Our students need us. They need us to ask paradigm-shifting questions and to propose, develop, and implement innovative disruptions to pathologized educational practices and policies predicated on white supremacy, anti-Blackness, deficit model thinking, homophobia, misogyny, etc. In this book, then, we will collectively zero in on practices that we feel hold the potential to positively impact educators so that they can then, in turn, positively all students and especially traditionally underserved PERMSCs.

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