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March 2020 Minutes

Diversity & Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC) Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, March 4, 2020, 2:00pm – 4:00 pm 

Chambers Building 121 


Attendees: Seria Chatters (Chair), Peggy Schooling, Kyesha Isadore, Holly Klock, Rhea Banerjee, Christine Andrus, Michelle Knotts, Misty Woods, Elizabeth Smolcic, Ashley Diaz


Welcome and Opening Remarks


Old Business: 


  1. Attendees introduced themselves.
  2. Reviewed and approved minutes from February 2020 meeting.


New Business: New and Continuing Activities 

Note: Names have been removed from these minutes on request of the committee members to remain anonymous.

 1. Update: Liz Jackson scholar visit canceled

a)     The scholar, Liz Jackson, had to cancel her visit to the United States due to the coronavirus restrictions, and therefore plans of her visiting Penn State had to be canceled as well.

2. Committee updates: Equity team

a)     It was reported that the first meeting for new faculty learning community in the elementary and early childhood education program went well. The team said that everyone at the meeting seemed motivated. They will be working together for the rest of the semester, for workshops, discussions, readings, and an online blog space will be created as well for wider participation for using the materials. This has gotten some support from the Dean’s office.

b)    Members of the team also spoke about other proposals that the Equity Team has put in front of the Dean in January, and they are waiting for a response. They also suggested that there be a meeting between the leaders of DCEC and the Equity team to discuss their separate roles and whether things will continue as they had been structured before. Will the funding still be there?

c)     A member reported having met with the Dean, and that it is still not clear what our role is to be. The member sees the role as supporting the work that the Equity Team is doing. There is also the question: What is everyone else in the college doing? Are there ways we can be enhancing the community – supporting book chats? Providing a space – with coffee and pastries – and talking about a specific book? This is being attempted in the school district right now with 5 different books, and having more general and open discussions around them. Another member asked if the book club in the school district is going successfully and it was reported that this year there has not been much turnout. There does not seem to be any incentive – many teachers who were interested in doing this have used their trade time for other things, and they are overworked and overcommitted already.

d)    A member said she would like to be more supportive of the Equity Team. There are still questions of whether we are backing off from doing things for staff – are we even supposed to be backing off?

3. Committee updates: Staff subcommittee 

a)     The subcommittee reported that there were now only two members of the committee and they are unsure of what the Dean wants them to do since they have gotten different answers from Maria and the staff advisor committee. The subcommittee said they have the same question as everyone else about how to get other people involved in any of the initiatives or events, because right now it seems like there is no time to think about it right now. 

b)    The subcommittee said that there are initiatives like a book club being organized in the college by individual people and if people in the college are doing things like this on their own, they need guidance. A member said that it needs to be something that is coordinated by the college – through conversations with the Dean – and someone should be given the authority/leadership to plan things like this. 

c)     A member suggested that there can possibly be a DCEC education subcommittee that organizes a monthly reading for the college – something similar to BAR-WE – where small readings and articles are emailed to the college and discussions can be held based on these readings. This way, even if individuals are unable to attend discussions, they can still read the articles sent in the email. 

d)    Three members of DCEC volunteered to get the monthly readings organized. A motion was made to develop the College of Education Monthly Inquiry and Discussion series, and the motion was seconded.

e)     The subcommittee raised the point that staff are allowed just ten hours outside of their job towards diversity related work in the college. Committee members questioned the validity or necessity for this time restraint. A member suggested that this is probably a good question for the Dean.

4. Progress report: Diversity in Education conference 

a)  An update was provided on the general report from the conference. The overall consensus based on a post-conference survey was that the conference had been successful and provided information and different perspectives on pertinent issues of diversity and inclusion. Specific suggestions were made by conference attendees about having more discussions about race in education, having more practical information rather than just research, and narrowing the focus of the conference to more practical issues.

5. Discussion: Difficult Dialogue event planning

a)     A framework was created for the event, and the committee was asked for preferences on the date of the event. The committee decided that a weekday would work best – most probably between 3:30-5:30pm – so that there could be maximum participation by both faculty and students. Monday 30th March was suggested as a date for the event, and the room 221 in Chambers Building was suggested as the location.

6. Discussion: Bias based bullying workshop in the Fall semester

a)     A member said that there is a need for this discussion because recently the school district as well as the on-campus early education developers have been struggling with wanting to do more anti-bias education for younger children around gender identity. There has been a pushback in the community against that, due to which panels around this topic have been canceled. 

b)    This Fall the DCEC could provide a full-day bias-based bullying workshop and could include discussions around gender identity issues in elementary and early childhood education. The member said they wanted to discuss about individuals who have expertise in these topics and who would be able to provide their expertise at this workshop. Some of the names suggested: Peggy Lorah, O’Brian, JoLynn.

c)     Dates for the workshop were discussed – possibly on a Saturday. A member suggested earlier in the semester (September); another said this could be tied into new grad student things to attend.

7. Discussion: College of Education Reads coffee chats in the Fall semester

a)     This was discussed earlier in the meeting: What is everyone else in the college doing? Are there ways we can be enhancing the community – supporting book chats? Providing a space – with coffee and pastries – and talking about a specific book? A member said this is being attempted in the school district right now with 5 different books, and having more general and open discussions around them.

8. Idea for Discussion: Mental health support training for teachers of preschoolers

a)     A member said that there has been an increase in behavioral concern in preschools across the country. When thinking about community enhancement, there could be a way that we work with teachers and administrators on this issue, because only about 16% of children have access to high quality child care, which means that they may be going to preschool but do not have a behavior plan. 

b)    A member suggested doing something around alternatives to PBIS.

c)     We could support the school districts in doing the work with behavior support plans – not hosting it on campus but at school districts instead. Head Start CAP could be a good source of support.

d)    A member discussed holding a mini-conference on addressing behavioral concerns in elementary and early childhood education – people who have been researching this could provide education for the community.

e)     Another member suggested reaching out to Shirley Woika, who could provide good resources.


[The meeting ended at 3:40pm]


Next meeting: March 31st, 11:00am-1:00pm, virtual meeting