Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professor
The Castro Professorship
The Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship was initiated in 1997 to foster multiculturalism, diversity, and academic excellence at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The professorship brings renowned Latinx scholars, artists and leaders of distinction to MSU Denver to conduct classes, seminars, performances, and lectures for students, faculty, staff, and the larger Denver community.
Reclaiming Schooling/ Recuperando la Enseñanza: radically reimagining the work of education
In 1969, Chicana/o students marched out of West High School in Denver, Colorado, demanding changes to the public school system, including an increase in educational opportunity, the inclusion of Chicana/o culture, history, and perspectives in the school curricula, an increase in Chicana/o teachers, and relief from the racism that they experienced in school.
Forty-one years later and in the midst of a global pandemic, Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x communities continue to negotiate inequitable conditions in schools compounded by the current social and political climate that has brought educational inequities into sharper focus. Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x communities must now contend with issues that include “no one to stay home with kids; lack of home wifi and training with specific programs and platforms to help with online school…potential loss of access to free meal programs their school provides…and concern that children and teachers will be exposed to coronavirus if they attend school in-person” (Latino Decisions, 2020). Yet, in the face of this adversity, just as Chicana/o communities did forty-one years ago, Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x communities today are resilient and strategic in the ways that they negotiate these new barriers and actively work to dismantle long-standing systemic inequities.
Toward this end, the year’s Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship welcomes, Dr. Angela Valenzuela. Dr. Valenzuela has a long history of research and teaching in the sociology of education, minoritized youth in schools, educational policy, urban education reform, culturally relevant curriculum, Ethnic Studies, and indigenous education. Her foundational book, Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring, carefully documents how schools “…rather than functioning as a conduit for the attainment of the American Dream, subtract resources from Mexican youth.” Published in 1999, Valenzuela offers a series of policy recommendations that, even today, continue to be vital and critical to supporting the academic success of Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x youth. This work along with numerous other publications, including her most recent publication, Growing Critically Conscious Teachers: A Social Justice Curriculum for Educators of Latino/a Youth, has culminated in the co-founding and directing of Academia Cuauhtli, a partnership-based, community-anchored Saturday school that centers Mexican American and Indigenous knowledge and has had district-wide positive impacts in Austin, Texas.
Valenzuela differentiates between education and the form it often takes, schooling. Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x students desire an educacíon “premised on respectful, caring relations” that “fully promotes their bicultural and biliteracy potentialities and competencies that further promote critical thinking, allowing them to form their own opinions based on what they read, research, and analyze as opposed to what they are told” (Valenzuela 1999 and 2016). Schooling processes that lack these critical aspects can divest Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x students of their cultural wealth and lead to alienation, disengagement, and lack of academic success. Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x communities deeply value education and all the possibilities of its promise. Thus, the theme of this year’s professorship asks us to reflect on the ways that Chicana/o/x/Latina/o/x communities have reclaimed and continue to reclaim schooling to radically reimagine the work of education.
For information please contact the main office of Chicana/o Studies at 303-615-0711.