Debunking the Political Context of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the AC-Stage of Education

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Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. specializes in antiracism in education, educational leadership, strategic planning, strategic thinking, professional learning, school board and superintendent relations, and executive coaching. Dr. Hutchings’ research focuses on the African American superintendent and their challenges faced by advocating for antiracism in school systems across America.

Dr. Michael Conner

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. Welcome to another episode of Voices for Excellence. I’m your host, Dr. Michael Conner, CEO and Founder of the Agile Evolutionary Group, and of course, the proud host of VFE. And it did not take me far to find this guest that I absolutely admire. He is in the great state of Virginia. I call him one of the legacy superintendents because when I was, chief academic officer, assistant superintendent, I would always reach out to Dr. Greg Hutchings, and he has always been there for me. It doesn’t matter of when I was a cow. Doesn’t matter when I was a superintendent. my transition into my own corporation. Doctor. Gregory. doctor Gregory c Hutchinson, junior, my alpha brother, as you say, has just been an absolute, partner of mine. And there is not anything, anything anybody can say to me about Doctor Greg Hutchinson Jr. Doc has been a superintendent, but most famously for. Right. We always talk about, remember the Titans, right. Trust me, his work is beyond that. But everybody’s like, oh, where was doc from? I was like, you ever seen that movie with Denzel? Denzel Washington with T.C., T.C. High School and Alexandria, Virginia. They were like, oh, yeah. I was like, that’s where doc was. And then they get this back and they’re like, oh, no. But of course, the superintendent of the year, now he has his own company, Revolutionary Ed, LLC. It is just an absolute honor to have one of the best in America, specifically when we talk about some of the polarized topics in education. The three letters I say that just brings this level of political inertia into DC. we are going to unwrap that in totality with the national international expert, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. Doc, how are you? Welcome to VFE, my brother.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yes. Happy to be here. And you know I should be talking about d I always say it when I’m talking. I add a to it. So diversity, equity inclusion and anti-racism. I can tell you you know I know everybody else wants to say belonging. I’m like, okay, come on, you can belong to something. But let’s talk about that anti-racism piece.

Dr. Michael Conner

Doc, I, listen, I admire the work you’ve been doing, man, across the country. Now that you’re bringing that Dei a anti-racism approach that’s even going deeper to the core threads of the genetics of specific organizational cultures, teaching and learning, classroom pedagogy. Your impact is just leaving a legacy. And I want to personally thank you.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah. Thank you, I appreciate that. I appreciate this opportunity to I’m proud of you. I keep up the great work. I’m just honored to be here. You know, I feel like we just sitting on the couch talking.

Dr. Michael Conner

Listen, and that is, that is this is the rationale to why we have this podcast. Because again, I try to bring on the, I like to say, the high intellects within the ad ecosystem and the conversations that I have, just across the country, across the disciplines within the ecosystem, I’m like, we got to bring this, to a level of professional learning, asynchronous professional learning for leaders and practice out there because, I mean, how many people would love just to have, a one hour discussion with you, doc? A lot of people would. And if I’m lucky, that create this platform to have you on for one hour, I want the whole world to unpack your strategies and learn your methodologies that you’re applying. But I can’t forget. I can’t forget you are at Howard University as a professor as well. So we’re going to we’re going to talk about that doc. But against you, you know. Right. I listen the black Ivy right. The black. That’s right. It is black Ivy Ben. And I tell you, you know, you’re doing some marvelous, marvelous things. But again, you and I, we can sit down like we’re pretending we’re sitting on the couch, have this conversation. But let’s get into what you are thinking, what your strategies and approach, approaches are within the ecosystem around, around this DE&I work that you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re presenting but level setting of how we could continue to build shared mental models around this important work. But before we even get into that, this is a fun question and I can’t wait. Can’t wait to see what your response is. Right? Because education, stakeholders across the country, across the world would gauge with you right wing gauge and Dr. Hutchings’s work with equity and excellence. What is your song that describes your leadership signature in the ecosystem?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

You know what? It depends on the. Hey, I gotta get I got it depends on the day. But, you know, you probably won’t get this one. You won’t get some, because I got a lot. But this one, the one I’m going to say you might not guess because, you know, right now across this country, as you all know, like, I mean, there is like, anti DE&I you know, mission out there, right. and it’s a movement and it’s real. So with my leadership and me going out to kind of like fight against these anti-black and anti DEA, kind of like extremists out there. The song that comes to mind for me is Raheem Davon. I don’t care. So I don’t care. Right. The chorus line I don’t they can hate if they want, I don’t care. Right. That is kind of what my leadership is right now, because it’s about going out here and being unapologetically and authentically myself and in my own leadership and speaking my own truth in my lived experience. So I don’t care what folks are saying, you know, we don’t care. We don’t keep moving. So that’s that’s the kind of leadership I’m bringing through. Revolutionary. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a that’s the point in having a whole title, you know, of our business, you know, it’s revolutionary, like revolutionary. It came to mind with me, when I was a principal in Nashville many years ago. so it was almost 20 years ago, which is crazy that I was a principal, but I was principal of the year in, Nashville. And they did this article called The Revolutionary on. I may have my picture outstanding. Like, you know, they can talk, thinking I’m all that back then before, you know, I just started out and, when I was thinking of the name of my business, my wife was like, well, what about the revolutionary? Remember you? And I was, like, revolutionary. It. And so she actually helped me come up with the idea. But I don’t care. Raheem Davon that is the song. I got long winded, you know, again, law with. So I tell that story

Dr. Michael Conner

Listen, that classic back you got, you got to get long winded. But the I love the association that I love it where the insight or the DE&I, a word and that association with I don’t care because you have to have this mindset, this revolutionary disruptive mindset where you know what is right for the kids specifically now, generation Z, Generation Alpha, within the next two years, 57% of education, whether it be public or charter, will be black or brown. So this work is inevitable. We have to be able to bring different dimensions of race and culture into the equation. If we want to truly, analyze the organizational profiles and various structures, insist terms that are that have historically been lamented in education, we have to be able to come with the political analysis and interrogate that. But that approach of I don’t care, they can hate all they want because and I want to unpack this with you. as we get further into the podcast, why has it become so polarized? Why has this work become so politicized when all of the demographic data, all of the socio graphical data, all profile data is showing that our schools are becoming more diverse and bringing in a variety of different cultures. I want to get your expertise on that, but I don’t. That’s my new glisten, my my, my my theme song I used to come into or love, I would say my my, my equity song and excellent song is, Super Bad by James Brown. But now I work back, I love it, I don’t hear and we don’t care. We’re going to have to have that attitude to continue to move the trajectory forward for our kids. But getting into that, and it’s nice little segue, right, your work regarding diversity, equity and inclusion that specifically are focused on dismantling systemic racism in education and outlined it, which is the a have been adopted by many leaders and districts in the country. They seek you for this work. Now, the creation of your organization. As you was talking about Revolutionary Ed, LLC, I want you to expand on what is the mission and the vision of revolutionary Ed, and how has this work been performed? Fighting learning organizations, the necessary tools and shift the mindset so that this work is systematized in all of our classrooms throughout America?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah. You know, well, one, let me just tell you that, you know, revolutionary Ed, as I said, I was so empowered, for myself to, to get into this space because, you know, superintendent, of Alexandria City Public Schools, I was in the state of Virginia. Right. You say the great state. But right now, with the Governor Youngkin as the at the helm, I don’t know how great of a state it is, but I will say this, when he was in place and he was trying to dismantle, any DE&I efforts in the state of Virginia that was when I knew I was going to need to go bigger and beyond Alexandria. and that’s when I first had the whole inkling to even want to, like, expand my reach right? A lot of people think that I got out of the superintendency because, you know, I was tired. I mean, I’m always tired. I ain’t got to super because I was tired, right? I got a superintendency to do more work. Right? And that’s what Revolutionary Ed is all about. So our mission is around empowering school systems to truly have transformational change that is sustainable. Right? And this is through, refining and sometimes completely, uprooting their curricular efforts, in a community so that black and brown children, especially, are being impacted in a positive way. Right. And, you know, a part of our vision is that we will completely dismantle systemic racism. in public education. Right. And, I mean, that’s a huge endeavor to have. But this is why I gotta have I don’t care mentality to be able to get out there and keep getting back up every day, especially with, you know, what’s happening across this nation. And, you know, just one thing that you said earlier, you know, Mike, what you talked about was around, the simple fact that, you know, people are kind of this is movement. And there’s, the DE&I. At first, DE&I efforts have been polarized and, politicized. Right. And the reason for that is because we were on the cusp or we are on the cusp of having, you know, historical change. And I believe that many people in America, unfortunately, right now, they are afraid of what will happen if black and brown people become truly empowered. so this this is why when you when you’re afraid, what do you do? You you get desperate, right? You begin to use scare tactics. And so a lot of these tactics are very similar to what happened during the civil rights movement, very similar to what happened to our reconstruction when we began to have Jim Crow laws. Right. So, you know, this is not a new playbook that folks are playing from. All they’re doing is really repeating history. But the resistance right now is because we were about to have a historical shift, and folks are like, oh, no, we’re not doing that right. And I think that’s why this changes is happening. That push back is continuing. So we gotta push and persevere. You know, in spite of what’s happening. So that’s how I feel about that.

Dr. Michael Conner

No, great, great, great sentiments, doc, because, I’m taking, copious notes here with all of the essential themes, meta and mega themes that you’re highlighting. But one thing that resonated with me and especially, through your organization, revolutionary ad, is that you’re not afraid to help districts, have this level of serial disruption, radicalization of the legacy systems that they’re in that they’ve been implementing in employ, i.e., as you stated, uprooting the, regular. And then, culture, a dynamic cultural shift that, revolutionary ed is working on dismantling racism in education before I underpin, with regards to the rationale, with the historical change and historical shifts when we think about dismantling racism in ever in education. and I go back to the famous quote, W. E. Deming, every system, every system’s outputs, or the system is perfectly designed for the outputs that it gets. We know historically how the education model has been designed. Route and and articulated right from the, garrison, from the Egarium paradigm to now, the industrial paradigm. Now we have to look at this in a new paradigm, right. The egarium paradigm, I should state. But bringing that back to that, dismantling racism in public education, unpack that for me, because that is going to be a huge endeavor, specifically where we’re examining, specific threads of organizational culture and, you know, as a, as a, as a former superintendent, that culture is the hardest thing to change. Now, when we get into these, enter into dependent threads, eliminating racism, micro, microaggressions, implicit biases. We’re talking about the totality of that. How do we unpack that and where do we start?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah, first of all, let me just tell you this, and I and I heard this, I was, attending a conference last week, and, and I was on the I was in the audience of a panel, and Dr. Goldie Muhammad, she was on the panel, and, she was talking about, which I totally agree with. She was talking about the simple fact that our curriculum and the way we run schools right now has not changed since the beginning of schools. Right. So, you know, this structure was not intended for black and brown children in the first place, right? Because we were slaves at that time. and those structures and those practices, they might have been refined based on the era that we’re in. But the core of the practice continues to to remain the same. Right. And, you know, I mean, when we dismantle that part of dismantling that is literally taking on a whole new way to do our, curriculum. And that leads to like, culturally relevant pedagogy and culturally relevant teaching, you know, us making sure that our policies in our, that really drives our practice, that these policies and put in place, with black and brown children in mind. Right. And I think that’s something that we have not been courageous enough to do. Another thing I was just talking about recently, was the simple fact that, you know, we were talking about the shortage that we have of black teachers, in America. And, you know, one thing that I have said is that, yes, there is a shortage. However, the black teachers who graduate from like Howard University because we produced some amazing black educators. Right. the question is, do they want to work for you? Right. Do you have an environment that is welcoming? Is it relevant? Is it representation, representative of them, you know, and that is the big question. Do black people want to work for you, for your school system? Right. And that’s the question. And I’m, I’m really pushing to many, organizations out there that are saying they can’t find black teachers in the simple fact that we don’t have, or that we have this shortage of black educators across America. If you look at history, it all derived from when we had Brown, the Board of Education, and we began to integrate schools. So Brown, the Board of Education of our seventh anniversary is coming up May 17th. Yeah, right. So May 17th, 1954, when we had Brown, the Board of Education, and we began to integrate our schools over the 20 years, it took right for us to integrate schools because there was with all deliberate speed. So there was a lot of resistance. 30,000 plus black educators lost their jobs and they lost their jobs because these and that. Once we became integrated, white schools said, we’re not going to hire you as a black teacher, as a black, principal, you know, so we were, in a sense, forced out of education. Hence now we see that we have this struggle in numbers, right? It was already designed from America to get us out once we integrated these schools. So this is a national crisis that is due to our, you know, us being not not only oppressed, but also the simple fact that we were being banned from working in these integrated, schools. And that’s what pushed us out of education. So I just wanted to, you know, to put that plug in there as well, to give some context to why we’re in this state now.

Dr. Michael Conner

Compelling, compelling, doc. You’re absolutely right. You know, I’ve been, keynote and speaking across the country. And one thing I’ve been highlighting is, have we have we truly demonstrated progress as we’re approaching the 70th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education, and really loved how you gave that context. It brings back, some challenging research back. And I’m going to bring this up. John Ogbu we already know the content and John argues or presented years ago, but when I revisit Ogbu’s work around assimilation, fictive kinship and all of those research elements that he highlighted, I’m seeing a direct correlation. Now. I know that’s not popular, but when you think about what Ogbu, contended and his legacy, research, you’re like, wow, you’re seeing some of the elements in a practical manner being played out. Now that we’re seeing, black teachers. I love how you contextual allies that, basically, do they want to work for you? We see these plans being developed. We see these policies around the hiring or the retention of black and brown leaders, specifically black leaders and teachers. But are is are the cultural norms conducive for them, and does it support them in a way for they’re going to stay? So absolutely, doc. I loved how you unpack that. Dismantling racism in public education. You don’t care. You need to continue to boldly do that as well. But rather I want to get it. That was it. I want I want to get to your book. All right? I want to get into your book right, I love it. I’m ready.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

I’m ready, I’m ready. I do want to say this really quick because, you know, John Ogbu, John Ogbu did a lot of work with Shaker Heights, and I was superintendent at Shaker Heights, City schools in and outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Some of his work, you know, I didn’t really agree with everything that John Ogbu had around when I came in. but, you know, one thing, and this is the thing, I felt like he was trying to make it as if, some of his research, you know, was saying, like, African Americans we didn’t, like, want to be successful, and we didn’t take the initiative. And, you know, that whole pick yourself up by the bootstraps when you don’t have any straps to pick up, like Martin Luther King said. So where do you go with that? Right. And, you know, it’s going to be important for us, even when folks have the intelligence, the drive, there are systems that have that are intentional in place, whether it’s schools or our economy or in our communities or in businesses, that prevents black people from getting what they truly deserve. Right. And then once you make it to a certain level, then folks will come in and try to to get you out, look at Dr. Gaye, you know, the Harvard president, right? I mean, she was in less than a year. All right. Got her out. Right? You know what I’m saying? Like, and my thing is, in this continuously happens to us. And I think it’s happening right now in the spotlight because people are trying to use, these threats and scare tactics to say, if you are bold enough to be in these positions, no, we can get you out overnight. Right. So a scare tactic because we need to stop being afraid. Let’s be unafraid. And I don’t care. Right? Goes back to overhanging the bomb. But let’s talk about the book. I just wanted to get that piece in.

Dr. Michael Conner

Oh, no, no, no, no, we could talk about. We could talk about. I remember I can tell you when, when I was finishing my dissertation, oh, a while ago and completed that in my lit review, I was, vigorously, arguing against John Ogbu, whose work and I used another legacy research to, to contradict that which ultimately led to the program evaluation of culture responsive pedagogy, which has been around for a while. This is this new doc. and everybody thinks it’s a new educational fad, but it’s been around historically for a while. We’ve had some really, really good, scholars in that area. Gloria Larson Billings, Geneva Gaye, who has been talking about this historically. But now I think it’s really being, prevalent is being prioritized now. But the question that we have to continue is, is we know the theory, but what does this look like in practice, sustainable practice. And that continuation of not being afraid of the scare tactics to continue to change systems. But, brother, you need to listen, man. I read your book years ago, right? I had to pick it up again, and I started laughing because for me is like, wow, I see this evolution of my growth in this area, specifically how you unpacked it was, it was done artfully and scientifically as well. And to my audience, if you if you, do not have the book, please get Dr. Hutchings’s book is getting into Good Trouble at School: A guide to Building an Anti-Racist School System. This book is, you you got to get it. All right. So if yes, it’s my fraternity brother, but he got to get the book because it challenges your, intellectual capacity around what does the system look like where it’s truly free. it’s truly free of racism. And we can start really looking at all of our students with an equity lens. But I read it. But to my to my audience, who who has not read your book, right. From a high level contextual overview, what are the key themes of the book? But more importantly, how can it be used as a guide for leaders and teachers to start this arduous process of transforming culture? First of all, let me give a oh, sorry. I’m sorry. Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

So I’m just saying I want to give a huge shout out to my coauthor of the book, Doug Reed. He’s a professor, at Georgetown University. White, white male. Right. White guy. black guy, two different walks of life. This is why the book is powerful because it’s given different perspectives. Right. And, we we even went on a journey as we were writing the book. Doug and I, you know, sometimes he would write things, and I was like, did I write that? He was like, no, I wrote it, and I was like, well, you sound like a black man, right? That’s right. This portion. So like, we’ve been talking too much like, you know, you. Right? Like me. You know, I loved it, though, because we learned a lot about each other. And we were he was, you know, Doug is so bold and, kind of like, understanding his white privilege. And, I really love that about him and how how we can use his white privilege to an advantage to help dismantle systemic racism by acknowledging it, number one, and then also by not using it in negative ways, but in ways to help others. so I wanted to first put that plug out there for Doug. but the book is it’s a guidebook, right? And it was intentionally written so that educators or parents or board members, would be able to kind of understand the six pillars of becoming anti-racist. Number one, making sure that you, know your history. Right? So many folks, they, they, they start at trying to come to solutions without going to understand the history. Your history gives you all the information, right? It tells you why you are where you are. And every school system has some form of history. Right. And, and a lot of folks don’t even understand it. But I tell you, when you begin to research your history, you will see why special education classes when they started, why they started talented and gifted classes when they started, why they started, most likely in the late 60s, early 70s when schools were integrating to separate kids. And you won’t find that many pretty much in every city across the nation. Right? But it’s going to give you some context to some of the challenges that you’re faced with. Number two is committing to racial equity, right? A lot of folks, you know, they talk about equity, but racial equity is just as important when you’re looking at those racial disparities in your school systems. You’re going to see that, folks, you know, black and brown students. There’s a huge gap. You know, whether it’s academics, whether it is, you know, discipline, whether it is their success after school or whatever they attain after school, you’re going to always find, you know, those disparities which are very important. Number three is de facto segregation. Right. And we are seeing that in schools across this nation where students are put into either a gifted program or there’s pull out for honors programs, or there’s a space for special ed where there’s a space for English learners, and all you’re doing is creating a de facto segregated school environment. Absolutely. And it’s happening time and time again. in in our schools, across across America. Number four is dismantling that school to prison pipeline, right? It is happening in our buildings, right where you see students who are being treated as if they are already criminals. So then and that start in elementary school, right. And then middle school and high school. So you’re preparing them for the prison system, right? It’s crazy that they’re using formulas, and they’re looking at elementary numbers to determine how many prisons they build like that. That’s horrific. We should be ashamed of ourselves thinking that whoever made up that format, we actually use it to build prisons in America. That’s crazy to me. Right? But but it’s a real fact, number five. Number five is all about strategic thinking and strategic planning. Right? And I think a lot of folks have strategic plans. Many don’t. Some of them get strategic plans. They put them on their shelves. Right. We’re all about having a strategic plan that you are strategically thinking your way through the plan process and making sure that it’s done with fidelity and that you have, goals that are going to be sustainable even when you’re no longer there. Right? So that strategic thinking and strategic planning, it’s important. And then number six, which is the five pillars in the book, is about courageous and bold leadership. Yeah. And, you know, a lot of folks, they, they want to be in that seat, right, of any type of leadership role, you know, superintendent, principal, central office, teacher, leader, you know, whatever PTA president, you know, people want these leadership roles, but do you have the courage and the boldness to push back even when things get rough? Right? I mean, you got to stand tall and keep persevering and fighting and advocating even when the world is against you. Right? Because right now everybody’s anti DACA. Right? So you still got to sit at that platform and keep pushing through. so it is going to take that courageous and bold leadership. So in a nutshell that is what our book is all about. I hope you all go out and get it. because it definitely is a guide to help you dismantle that systemic racism a year and get organization.

Dr. Michael Conner

Meticulously crafted. going back to my initial statement prior to this question, where, the book content and design is just artistically and scientifically, interfaced masterfully. specifically, I love the whole process of, the six pillars, one that resonates with me, obviously. when we look at the 70th anniversary, Brown v Board of Education, one of your core pillars is eliminating these de facto segregated learning environments. So there’s that causality, not that correlation, but that causality between 70 years. Brown v Board of Education. And what we still see are elements, rudiments and even macro systems of segregation within our schools. amazingly, put it with the other five powers. The last two strategic thinking, planning, we see an overabundance of these strategic operating players that look nice, that have, critical objectives and strategies with milestones and brains, these, elements that can be measured to see if we’re getting to that goal. But again, what does it look like? Realized? What does it look like in practice, what this level of fidelity and the thinking that’s associated with it, but courageous and bold leadership now more than ever in the high stakes, more than ever we need that. But speaking of leadership, yeah, we specifically executive leadership. And I want you to be bold and unapologetic when you answer this question now, no problem. We have to see and please, this I was saving this question for you because I know you will bring it backs. I know you will bring the theory, the research, the data and the implications based off of your analysis. So please be unapologetic with this because we are experiencing a mass exodus with current leaders. This is what I’m talking about now. I’m getting down to the granularity, the specificity around black leaders. National demographics 1.8% of superintendents in America are black women, and 1.9% are black men. Now, what is your theory about? Let’s be honest, these metrics are dismal, right? What is your theory behind this? But what does hope and change mean? If I’m an upcoming principal black principal, if I’m an upcoming, African American woman who’s an assistant superintendent to strive to be a superintendent, what does that mean to be a black executive leader in America?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah. Well, first and foremost, I want to say it’s it’s ludicrous that the numbers are so low. Right. but it’s not surprising because, it’s if we can if we can barely get a book on a shelf about black history, why do you think they’re going to hire a black person to run a school system? Right, right. So. But, but but there’s hope for this. This is one of the reasons why I’m working at Howard University. I mean, that was my dream job. It wasn’t like it just happened. I’ve always knew that I was going to work at, the Howard Force and some HBCU. Okay. Because Howard’s always been my number one spot. my dad is a graduate of Howard University. I spend a lot of, you know, I’ve been to a lot of homecomings growing up. You know, Howard, and one thing that, you know, I know for for sure is we at HBCUs can provide these new black leaders with the skills that they’re going to need to survive and the support networks that they’re going to need to survive. So you’ve got to think, if you got less than 4% right, superintendents across this nation who are black, there is a lack of network for them and support. So how are you going to survive? There’s a lack of training to understand that, you know, when you’re dealing with black superintend and it’s it is a different work. So you have to ask yourself this question. Board members, are the concerns that people are saying about this black superintendent. Is is it coming from a racist or biased space, or is it a reality? And how are you going to take it and react to it? I see our black superintendents time and time again being fired from their jobs for no reason, hearsay, right or no factual information. And it happens all the time. It’s like it’s content. I mean, just three superintendents. I know of in the past month, right, have lost their jobs over nothing. Right. And boards, yes, they did have to cough up a check and pay them. But now there is an impact that’s happening for that school system. They got it. Now go through a process to get somebody else said, which probably won’t be a black person. Right. So now that those young folks, particularly our black and brown students in those districts, they’re it’s a disservice to them. And they’re now lacking something. Right. But this keeps happening. So we got to make sure we’re providing them with the necessary skills. Also the support network. And we have to make sure black folks, when we get our seat at the table, that we continue to advocate. Right. And, you know, I know I have a circle, you know, in the bourbon soups, right? We have we got a little circle, a black male superintendent. We got a few black females on that too. Are black women. Excuse me, who were on there? as well. but we got to have these spaces where we’re able to be vulnerable. I have some real conversation around the struggles, you know, that we have. I also think that if we get into these seats, we have to make sure that we are opening the door for other black superintendents. That is stated to me is, imperative. Right? A lot of times we we get into these spaces, and I’m not speaking about all black leaders, as some black leaders get into the space and they want to be comfortable, they want to maintain their spot. So they end up being the only person in that space. And I’ll tell you this, if I see any black person as a superintendent and there’s no other people who look like you on your senior cabinet or running your schools, shame on you. Shame on you, because it is your responsibility now that you are in that space of authority and you have the power to bring in people of color, you sure not better be bringing some folks up in there, right? And if you don’t, shame on you, right? Because you should have somebody who’s able to move into into your seat. Right? And if it’s not at your seat or some other seat somewhere else. So I have always made an effort to ensure that I was building other black leaders up along the way, and we have to keep doing it. That’s how we were able to get, you know, these HBCU started doing reconstruction because we were uplifting black people. and, you know, and then and then one final thing, America has made black folks, you know, some black folks because like I said, I don’t care. Right? But it’s made some black folks feel as if they are less than and they’re not worthy. We gotta remind ourselves that we are worthy. We are Americans to write this place, but not be what it is without the folks who died and worked hard, whose shoulders we stand on, who you know, went out and petitioned and did all of you know that picketing and the silent marching and the nonviolence and all of that, you know, on our behalf to get this far. Right. So we have to remember that we do deserve a seat at that table, and we shouldn’t be unapologetically and authentically ourselves when we get and on our way up to getting it to that seat at the table.

Dr. Michael Conner

Well stated, Doctor Hutchings, and I want to be able to expand on. I love how you presented the Hope right network and support, advocating and bringing others up. And speaking specifically, I want to highlight this to to our black leaders to underpin your statement. You will probably you will probably be identified as a person that’s doing reverse, racism or reverse racist practice by hiring more black or brown, leaders on your cabinet in your schools as teachers. you’re probably going to hear that as a black leader, push through as doctor and say you have to persevere through that because once you start hiring, right, once you start hiring more black or brown leaders, black or brown teachers, black teachers, leaders in strategic areas, then you’re going to hear the sentiments that, oh, yeah, you know, this is reverse racism. Continue on it, continue on. Because that is actually, some things I’ve been hearing Dr. Hutchings across the country that when I start hiring data from superintendents, black women, black men as well, when we start hiring more for black or brown, then board members as well as people and education stakeholders and the organizations start to say, this is reverse, racism. They’re not hiring any white or any Asians. Dr. Hutchings, when I heard that.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

I heard that, too. I heard it, you know, as soon as you hire somebody black, they’re like, oh, you’re just only hiring black people. I say, no, I only hire qualified people. I bought that right. And we had no problem. Last year when you had a whole senior cabinet that was all white. So, you know, so please.

Dr. Michael Conner

Listen to my audience out there. Take Dr. Hutchings’s approach. Don’t listen to me. I’m coming with data, you know? I just know doc is like, yes, push through. Right. Excellence and quality. That’s what we need to look beyond. But doc and I want to, tap into your expertise before we end it. Right. Because, there’s this two phenomenon that I’m seeing where there’s that level of of interfacing, going on. But again, I want you to, to distinctly provide a definition and, and a high level caption around this two phenomenons culturally responsive pedagogy and culturally responsive practices. Right. People have been using them in a linear context, but by definition, they’re two different operating pieces of the whole business or education model. Can you explain or can you dellignate, these two independent phenomenons in their context, culture responsive practices and culture responsive pedagogy. But moreover, how can they be implemented into the cultural threads of a learning organization?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah. So first and foremost, you know, culturally responsive pedagogy. It refers to like teaching strategies and approaches that recognize the importance, you know, including students, cultural, backgrounds. Right. And that’s and that’s get your pedagogy right. And I and I think that the difference is culturally responsive practices. It generally refers to like behaviors, attitudes, and policies within an educational system. Now, the main thing that’s important for both one is cultural practices. When you change policy, you will change practice. and this is why I’m so adamant around dismantling systems. Right. Because that’s also policies included with pedagogy. If you are involving instructional materials and instructional practices in your classroom that are designed for a diverse cultural student body, you are now going to create an environment where students feel like you are speaking to me, right. This is culturally relevant to me. You’re teaching. You’re teaching me the way I need to be taught, right? And it doesn’t mean you have to also look like me. People can learn how to, you know, to to embed culturally relevant pedagogy in their classrooms. And this is how you merge the two together through training, you know, making sure that you have, you know, the teacher training, in place and professional learning that you have a curriculum design, right. That incorporates both. Right. And this is how you integrate culturally responsive pedagogy as well as, the whole practice piece, making sure that your assessment practices, are in place because, you know, there are a lot of assessments now that are biased, right? So how can you ensure that you have equitable and culturally relevant assessments, that are at your classrooms? how can you make sure you have policy development? Right. That is going to ensure, that students are their needs are being met and that your practices are going to be equitable and that their consequences, if they’re not right. So these are the policies to make sure that you don’t have a choice but to be equitable. how are you going to also get that, that community, and school kind of like engagement. So having all stakeholders, internal and external, being a part of this process and then also just the environment and the atmosphere, you know, like, and that’s the physical and emotional atmosphere of, of schools, like, how can you ensure that you all commit to equity and as you commit to diverse we include the anti-racism. You know, one thing I know when I was superintendent in Alexandria and they’re still using this now there is equity and racial equity was a part of the strategic plan. It wasn’t a separate tool. It was the lens of how we did our work, all of our work from finances to capital improvement to human capital, you know, to schools, in classrooms. Right. And that is what organizations are going to have to be able to do, to create that equitable and culturally relevant, school atmosphere or environment.

Dr. Michael Conner

I love your definition. And going to my audience first, doctor urges that we use this as, professional learning, asynchronous to andragogy, to be able to support practices, to be able to expand on, specific ideologies as well as, methodology is to deepen the work, to strengthen the work to my audience. This is an answer, that you want to replay back 2 to 3 times because there are many, many meta themes in there that clearly distinguish between culture responsive practices and culture responsive pedagogy. Dr. Hutchings does an excellent job of providing, I like to say, micro elements to get to that level of defining what culture response pedagogy is, and then also those micro elements that lead up to culture responsive practices. But the meta theme from that is that culture responsive practices, behaviors, attitude and policies, pedagogy, culture responsive pedagogy, teaching strategies, ensuring that students, have their lived culture are multiple cultures are represented within the curriculum and pedagogy of the learning environments. Excellent. Excellent answer please to my audience, play that back again slowly, so that now you can be able to impact practices at the leadership level. Be able to impact mindsets, attitudes and culture at the broader organizational level. And then even getting down to, as Dr. Hutchings, eloquently put it, teaching, training, professional learning in the context of curriculum design, assessment practices and policies that we have to examine from a culture responsive pedagogical lens. Last question. That last, last you made it through be look back. I know this is how I know you an alpha man because you ask the the rigor, the rigor, the research. You asked that to be a but, listen, but you’re unapologetic. You are authentically unapologetic. So I try to put frames and structures around this question, but usually it don’t work. And I know you like to get in good trouble, so take it how it is. But what three words. I’m not trying to limit that, Dr. Gregory c I g the three words. But what three words? Do you want today’s audience to leave? Our podcast episode highlighting the importance of culture responsive leadership DE&I a work and the AC state of education.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yes. So I and I use this often. I call it VIP vision, integrity, passion. Those are my three words. you know, you got to look beyond today, which is vision. You gotta do what you say you’re going to do and live up to it. That’s integrity. And you gotta love what you do, or you won’t get back up to come back and do it again, which is passion. So vision, integrity, passion VPI those are my three words. The the that’s right. They very important piece. Right. You might be important but but that’s not it.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah I think using that key. But what we talk about from the educational context vision integrity and passion that Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. If any of my audience members want to get in contact with you, want to reach out to you regarding revolutionary ed in the work or securing you maybe for a book study, how would they be able to get contact?

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Yeah, just go right to our website. It’s www.revolutionary-ed.com. So www.revolutionary-ed.com. and check us out. Everything you need for the book, you can send me emails through there. You can book me for whatever you want to do. You can you can find on on the website. And I appreciate the time.

Dr. Michael Conner

Find him. Please, please do. Because like I said, I’ve been a fan. I’ve been, a follower for years. And now to be able to work side by side, have access to that, doc, I appreciate your, fraternal love for here. Always. But more importantly, even before that, you were looking out for me, as an educational leader going through the ranks, you actually see me go through the ranks to be the superintendent. And when you say open the door for other black superintendents, you paved that way for me a while ago. So I always appreciate you back for that.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Appreciate it. And I appreciate you proud of what you’re doing. and thank you. Just for the opportunity. Keep working. Right. Just keep doing it. Like, if we don’t if if we don’t keep pushing forward unapologetically, then we’re doing a disservice to the next generation of black and brown children. So keep it up. I’m proud of it.

Dr. Michael Conner

Thank, thank right. Hey, on that note, I’m going to end it because that is that’s all I need. I think I got my video snippet and they cut it out and just play that, but Doc, I appreciate you. And on that note everyone onward and upward. Have a great day.