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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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Epilogue: In Closing



To be clear, the goal is this book is to contribute to conversations that hold the potential to move community college campuses as well as other institutions of learning towards campus-wide educational equity and justice. At the same time, we want to be clear that this book is not a tool that will help educators “fix” students. What it will do, however, is help institutions and the administrators, faculty, and staff therein begin to take responsibility for creating a campus environment that is anti-racist and socially just. This is why we identified the institutional barriers or gaps that we must mind and ultimately eradicate so that all students, and especially our poor ethno-racially minoritized students of color (PERMSCs) are afforded every opportunity to feel a sense of belongingness. The equity gaps that seem to follow PERMSCs like an annoying younger sibling are, in fact something much more heinous. These gaps are the progeny of white supremacist impelled inequity and injustice. Therefore, in order to address the polices, practices, and pedagogies that continue to limit and even cutoff access to upward mobility for PERMSCs, we have to redouble our institutional and personal efforts to meet our obligation to our students. We must move away from deficit thinking. When it comes to institutionalized inequitable practices, policies, and pedagogies, the stark reality is: It’s not them, it’s us. It is the responsibility of the faculty, staff and administrators of the college to aggressively combat the myriad...

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