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The 32nd annual University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Convention will be held November 15-18, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Houston, TX. The purpose of the 2018 UCEA Convention is to engage participants in discussions about research, policy, and practice in education with a specific focus on educational leadership. Members of the 2018 Convention Program Committee are Terah Venzant Chambers (Michigan State University), Bradley Carpenter (University of Houston), Terrance L. Green (University of Texas at Austin), and Lolita A. Tabron (University of Denver). Also, for the first time, the Program Committee will include a graduate student, Andrene Castro (University of Texas at Austin).
The 32nd Annual UCEA Convention theme, “Our Mission Critical: Revolutionizing the Future Through Equitable Educational Leadership, Research, and Practice,” draws inspiration from the incredible challenge President Kennedy issued to humanity in 1962 to turn our gaze to the skies. “We choose to go to the moon...not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” Reaching the moon was an idea that seemed impossible at the time, requiring advances in human ingenuity and technology that had not yet been invented. Kennedy spoke these words in Houston, Texas, which is also the site of our 2018 Convention. However, as was also true at the time of President Kennedy’s speech, we can draw more than a geographic connection from these words. The 1960s was a turbulent decade in the U.S. and around the globe. While some were galvanized by the opportunity to work together toward the audacious goal of reaching the moon, many communities of color and other minoritized groups decried the decision given the very real imperative to address human and civil rights on earth.
We find ourselves now, some 46 years after Kennedy’s speech, facing similar racial, social, political, and environmental unrest—recovering from the devastation caused by hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Houston; wildfires in California; and the continuing water crisis in Flint, MI. These recovery efforts continue even as we navigate political and racial upheavals, assaults on immigrant rights, unrest from police shootings of unarmed Black people (#BlackLivesMatter), violence against the Water Protectors at Standing Rock (#NoDAPL) and a host of other issues. Schools remain at the center of this constellation of challenges. School leaders across the globe enter their school buildings and work to help their students make sense of this world while still fostering their academic development. Many continue to interrupt the inertia of a system resistant to change, a system that remains a colonizing and oppressive space. We have found success in inspiring learning and closing opportunity gaps in select situations but attempts to replicate those efforts at the systems level have faltered. Indeed, we understand the gravity of these issues and the many ways leadership matters in solving them.
Thus, even as we invoke Kennedy’s vision for a manned mission to the moon as inspiration for this Call, we do so with both intention and caution. As Shetterly (2016)1 noted in her recently film-adapted book Hidden Figures, despite the prevailing narrative that suggests otherwise, we could not have reached the moon without the key mathematical contributions of Black women. Tuck and Gaztambide-Fernández (2013)2 similarly suggested this type of “replacement” of the contributions of minoritized people is consistent with settler colonialism. As a counterpoint, they offered the notion of rematriation, which “involves rethinking the aims of research...so that Indigenous communities and other over-researched but invisibilized communities can reject narratives and theories that have been used against us, and re-story knowledge and research to forward our own sovereignty and wellbeing” (Tuck & Gaztambide-Fernández, 2013, p. 84). In our effort to disrupt the colonial inertia of historically privileged educational research paradigms, we highlight these scholars as exemplars of work that presses against and challenges prevailing notions of the roles of leadership, research, and scholarship.
We offer our own challenge to our educational leadership community with this 2018 Convention Call to rethink and reimagine what matters in research. How might the field of educational leadership approach research with new and innovative methodologies that seek to dismantle inequity? How might we collaborate interdisciplinarily with and beyond our usual partners? We must challenge ourselves to ask, “What else? What more can we do to make a difference?” We are challenged to find answers within ourselves that bring us to use our skills and expertise in our local communities: to offer professional development; serve on school boards; partner with community-based organizations; work strategically with policymakers; offer testimony; stay informed about local, national, and international trends; and work with the students in our preparation programs to do the same. More now than ever, scholars and practitioners in our field are called upon to step into the current geopolitical climate, realize their responsibility as savvy political advocates, and do the work that matters.
To address the 2018 UCEA Convention theme, “Our Mission Critical: Revolutionizing the Future Through Equitable Educational Leadership, Research, and Practice,” we invite submissions that (a) challenge dominant narratives that subvert equitable leadership and education; (b) revolutionize the preparation of school and district leaders to enact equitable leadership, research, and practice; (c) imagine equitable alliances with students, families, and communities where there is shared expertise, decision making, and ownership for sustainable change; and (d) foster coalitions with policymakers and elected officials to create the future we need.