Over the last two days we’ve seen your comments, heard your frustrations, and through it all, we’ve been silent. We are not silent because we hoped this would go away, but our silence has been one of internal reflection and continued impassioned conversation. As an organization, we strive to make sure we bring as many diverse voices to the table as possible. We have a code of conduct that promotes a positive and inclusive environment. But when we can’t uphold our own rules, those who they were meant to protect may feel vulnerable. When promoting our latest event, we shared an image that showed a non-diverse speaking panel. It was not reflective of all of our speakers at this event, and it is our fault for not highlighting and giving voice to people of color. You have let us know that we still aren’t doing a good enough job. We are sorry. We are listening, but more than that, we are making changes.
We have changed the way we choose our conference presentations in an effort to promote diversity in both topics and presenters. We’ve added a session topic on diversity and inclusion that we hope will give our presenters a platform to not only educate our attendees, but ourselves as well. The TCEA board has made diversity training a priority in 2020 so that we can better understand how to serve those who need a voice. We know it still isn’t enough, and that is why we will continue to go down that path and look for the things we can do better.
As educators, we must always remember to model the values we are charged with building in young people: fairness, equity, honesty, compassion, cooperation, hard work, and more. More than just professing these values, we have to live them, in the ways we treat not only our students, but our peers as well. Each member of the TCEA Board staff and staff is expected to promote and reflect these values. Promoting these values is easy, but reflecting them, from the way we conduct business to the ways we socialize with one another, is the true measure of progress.
That’s why we are working to analyze our own thoughts, words, policies, and actions, both as individuals and as an organization. We must do this to ensure that we not only create and enforce policies that protect the rights of all — and especially of marginalized groups, like the LGBTQ community and people of color — but that we go beyond policies to our everyday actions and interactions, including prioritizing diverse voices in our programs and events. It is vital for us to create these frameworks and policies, but we must also work together to improve one another, to be mindful of careless or loaded language and actions, and to prioritize our values first.
The changes we need to make cannot be made by our Board or staff alone. We encourage you to join this conversation in any way you see fit. Lend your voice to our blog and podcast, submit a presentation on diversity and inclusion topics, or bring your own idea. And as we listen to you, we will continue to ask: How can we make TCEA more inclusive and safe, and amplify the voices that need to be heard the most?