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Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges and Beyond

Theory and Practice in Achieving Educational Equity

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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 Two Embracing the Obligation: Social Consciousness and Epistemological Disruption

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CHAPTER TWO

Embracing the Obligation: Social Consciousness and Epistemological DisruptionJENNIFER TAYLOR-MENDOZA

A Personal Reflection: Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza

In 1995, a twenty-year-old African American woman visits a community college counselor after being academically dismissed the previous semester. Her transcripts over two years, aside from the first semester grades, were riddled with Ws, Ds, and Fs. Little did she know that this single counseling visit would change the course of her educational trajectory and her life. The counselor after reviewing her transcripts sat her down and asked bluntly, “What is going on with you?” in a voice that was somehow, simultaneously, incredulous yet caring. In the counseling session that ensued, this counselor took a genuine interest in her background and her community college experience. Through this concern, this counselor demonstrated his belief in this student’s brilliance and limitless potential. Kenneth Key was my counselor at El Camino College. That day he closed his office door; he engaged me directly through a series of questions and interactive dialogue, devoid of bias, preconceptions, or expectations. This is not a unique story about a counselor inspiring a student—but a potent reminder of the environment and exchange the system must strive to create for all students. Inspirational stories happen all across campuses; however, unfortunately, they do not happen enough. As a result of Kenneth Key’s genuine care and practical connection, I would go on to transfer to a four-year university, eventually earn a Ph.D, and even write this chapter. Kenneth...

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