As Dr. Love highlighted in her keynote, abolition is about eliminating not restructuring. The need to eliminate, not restructure extends to teacher education programs as well. Reimagining teacher education is a twofold endeavor: one, completely rethinking the required curriculum, practicum experience and colonial logics of learning, knowledge, research that typically shape teacher education programs. This would be vital in moving the white pre-service educators who are in the pipeline already closer to what Love calls being a co-conspirators rather than ally.
Secondly, given that in 2018 students of color represented 53% of the total student population, but teachers of Color only about 21% during the same time period (source: National Center for Education Statistics), teacher education programs must dedicate time, effort and resources to the recruitment and retention of preservice educator of Color. Love spoke of the coded language used in k-12 to alienate, oppress and push out dark folks based on their appearance, noting professional, inappropriate and distraction as examples of such language. Consider the message that sends to young Black children as they decide rather they should pursue teaching as a career path.
Abolitionist Educational Research
A significant idea presented in Love’s keynote and book is that of freedom dreaming. She describes freedom dreaming, simply as “dreams grounded in a critique of injustice” (Love, 2019, pg. 101). As I reflect on Love’s powerful ideas for reimagining what our k-12 schools could be for our students of Color if we adopted abolitionist teaching as the standard, I’m drawn to thinking about how educational research, especially that which aims to study marginalized communities, could be reimagined with abolitionist principles in mind.
Patel’s 2016 book Decolonizing Educational Research traces the genealogy of coloniality in knowledge production and education research, positing that “education research, though both meaning and matter, has played a deleterious role in perpetuating and refreshing colonial relationships among people, practices, and land” (Patel, 2016, pg. 12). There are similarities and overlaps in the works of Love and Patel, they both draw on the scholarship of great thinkers such as; Gloria Ladson-Billings, W.E.B. DuBois, and Kimberlé Crenshaw to inform their scholarship. Furthermore, both scholars acknowledge and push for the complete dismantling and radical rethinking of the systems they critique, k-12 education and education research respectively. Patel questions “whether educational research could, in fact, become something more than colonizing, whether an entity borne of and beholden to coloniality could somehow wrest itself free of this genealogy” (pg. 4). Patel calls for answerability, and Love for abolition, but they both interrogate the colonial logics of learning and knowledge.
In my freedom dreaming, I think about what abolitionist education research would look like. What would the implications be for all education scholars, practitioners, and researchers, regardless of race, if institutions prioritized educational research that critiques, rather than perpetuates, injustices in education. As an educator and emerging researcher, I must be cognizant of how my actions and research agenda can undo coloniality and create spaces for ways of knowing that honor the histories and experiences of people of Color, this can serve as a first step towards abolitionist education research.