Fern Aefsky, Saint Leo University
Maysaa Barakat, Florida Atlantic University
Sheila Moore, University of Central Florida
Zorka Karanxha, University of South Florida
Adrianne Wilson, University of Tampa
Ad Hoc Board Members
Chair, Policy and Advocacy Committee
FAPEL Board of Directors
Statement of Support and Action
As leaders and facilitators of university and professional learning programs that prepare educational leaders, we believe that we must address the issues of systemic racism that have been brought to the forefront with the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests and demonstrations.
Even before these events, the COVID-19 pandemic had placed a spotlight on how racism has caused deep inequities in our schools, communities, and society. All this reinforces that we must maintain an urgent and deliberate focus on the importance of equity, inclusion, and equality for all members of our democratic society and respond to these clear social injustices through action in our programs and through the school leaders we develop.
Our mission statement includes the following: “the purpose of the organization is to promote the improvement of the education of educational leaders… to foster educational improvement through the inclusion of educational leadership in the teachings and learning process”.
As an organization, we are committed to advocating for and leading the changes needed to ensure that we work collaboratively to end racial injustice. Our profession has been aware of and engaged in research and learning around this issue. However, our schools and districts are led by our graduates yet inequality is still a dominant injustice that penetrates all levels of school leadership education and practice, including our own. Our programs select, admit, and begin the pipeline of educational leadership in the State of Florida. Responsibility begins with our programs in bringing to the districts that we serve the kinds of leaders that will understand and have the skills to lead their students, teachers, schools, and communities in systemic change.
In light of this we need to ask ourselves if our programs are developing leaders who are advocates for systemic change to eradicate inequity. Do our graduates understand the deep nuances that come with democratic, culturally responsive, equity-oriented leadership? Have they been equipped with the leadership skills to confront and engage these issues? If our programs are successful in these areas, what are the examples we can learn from? These are a few of the many questions that need answers.
Therefore, we are responding with actions, as follows:
- creating a FAPEL task force to focus specifically on social justice and issues of racism.
- reviewing the current vision, mission, and by-laws of FAPEL using an equity lens.
- prioritizing focus at our two annual meetings to specifically address racial inequity.
- contacting and recruiting a culturally diverse membership from all programs across the state.
- encouraging deans and department chairs, to recruit a more diverse educational leadership faculty.
- continuing to focus the current conversation with the Florida Department of Education examining the racial inequities that are manifested through performance on the Florida Educational Leadership Exam and how to address them.
- directing the FAPEL Policy Committee to focus on using an equity lens when tackling policy issues.
Together, we can make a difference. If we remain silent, we are part of the problem. We need to be active and vocal parts of the solution. Dr. Martin Luther King stated:’ the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by good people”.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.” Nelson Mandela