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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 and Jeramy Wallace

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 book in this vein written, exclusively, by community college practitioners. Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges 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.

Dr. Jeremiah J. Sims, inaugural Director of Equity for the College of San Mateo, was born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, California. Because of his own life experiences, Jeremiah has devoted his career to the realization of educational equity for hyper-marginalized students. Jeremiah is an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley where he earned a B.A. in rhetoric, with honors, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in education. Jeremiah’s work, chronicled in his first book, Revolutionary STEM Education: Critical-Reality Pedagogy and Social Justice in STEM for Black Males (Peter Lang, 2018), details his experiences as an educator working toward a revolutionary, paradigm shift in the STEM education of and for Black boys. Sims, an educator, speaker, author, and consultant, resides in the East Bay Area with his wife, Rachel, and their five boys: Judah, Malachi, Zion, Freedom, and Jehu. Sims is also the editor of a Peter Lang book series, Educational Equity in Community Colleges.

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza is the Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College. In her seventeen years of experience as a community college educator—as a classified staff member, tenured faculty leader, director, dean, and vice president—she has been continually inspired by the brilliance, power, and endless potential of community college students. Systemic change and collective action is her passion; she is committed to redesigning institutional policies and practices to transform lives, to increase access, and to promote upward mobility. Dr. Taylor-Mendoza is a proud alumna of El Camino College, the institution she credits for her own early transformation. She holds a B.A. in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles; an M.S. in counseling from California State University, Northridge; and a Ph.D. in education from Claremont Graduate University. 

Lasana O. Hotep is an educator and entrepreneur committed to developing strategic and practical solutions to address systemic inequities in education and society at large. He earned his B.A. in speech communications and history at Texas State University, San Marcos and his M.A. in history from Arizona State University. For over 15 years, he has worked at large research universities, two-year colleges, and as a consultant to educational and corporate entities in addressing issues of race, gender, and social justice and their impact on organizational success. Lasana serves as the inaugural Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs (SESP) and founding Executive Director of the Equity Institute at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. 

Jeramy Wallace is Associate Professor of English at College of San Mateo (CSM) in San Mateo, California. He has served in a variety of leadership roles, including as president of the CSM Academic Senate, as president of the San Mateo County Community Colleges District Academic Senate, and as the coordinator for the CSM Umoja Community. He has written and presented widely on race, educational equity, and social justice in community colleges. Jeramy received his M.A. in English from Notre Dame de Namur University and his postsecondary teaching credentials from San Francisco State University. He resides in Redwood City, California, where he enjoys being outdoors, writing, brewing, and spending time with his family.

Dr. Tabitha Conaway currently works at the College of San Mateo as Basic Skills Coordinator. Her research interests include juvenile hall-to-college pipelines for previously incarcerated youth, counter-narratives, and creating educational equity concerns for historically underserved and underrepresented students in higher education. Tabitha holds a B.A. in African American studies from University of California, Los Angeles, an M.A. in education, with a specialization in teaching in a global society from National University, an M.A. in history from California State University, Sacramento, and a doctorate in education from San Francisco State University.