Raven Stubbs never doubted the complexities of the issues that plague the education system in the United States. Still, when she came to the Ed School last fall, she was positive that solutions could be found quickly, despite a sense that she may be overly optimistic.
“My greatest fear before attending HGSE was that I would find out that the issue with our education system is much more complex, and is one that would take a marathon approach as opposed to a long distance sprint. [Insert laughter at my adorable naivete],” she says.
Stubbs credits Associate Professor Martin West’s Education Policy and Politics course — one of her top courses taken while enrolled in the Education Policy and Management (EPM) Program — as showing her the reality of the current state of education in the U.S. “This class is the class that completely unraveled the many layers of the education system,” she says. “It revealed to me the marathon ahead. Ruined my naive dream (thank goodness!).”
Luckily the realization of the work ahead hasn’t deterred Stubbs. She is more determined than ever to work on behalf of the children that she feels are affected most by the failures of the current system: those educated in inner-city, lower-income, ethnic-minority majority public school districts.
“Raven Stubbs is a relentless intellectual spirit recognized by her colleagues for advancing meaningful and productive conversations no matter the situation,” says Senior Lecturer Karen Mapp, faculty director of EPM. “She frequently pushes others (and herself) to be more thoughtful and authentic listeners by taking into account views she may not share. When Raven is in the mix, an especially conscious and critical discussion of equity, social justice, and inclusion is all but assured.”
Stubbs will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for EPM at Convocation on May 24. Here, she reflects on her time at HGSE and her life in education.
What are your post-HGSE plans? My dream job would be the following projects:
- Consultant for inner-city public school districts, specializing in customized models and solutions based on the assets of the particular districts/cities
- Family and community engagement strategist focusing on wrap-around services and family organizing
- Mayor of Detroit
- U.S. Secretary of Education for an administration willing to dare attempts at substantive based initiatives for inner-city, lower-income school districts as well as for rural school districts
- Head of NAACP (but of a completely revamped and revolutionized version)
- An education political commentator contributor/writer
- Political philosopher?
The last two I am still pondering.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year? I stayed inspired via community, frustrations, and perspective.
Community: I kept people around me who intrinsically restored me and added nuances to my own thinking.
Frustrations: So many frustrations with the perception of black and brown kids and communities of color’s performance in education. Frustration with the research and approach to solutions in those communities. These frustrations made me want justice even more.
Perspective: It's all about the kids. This work can be grueling and the conversations and ideologies can be stagnating however kids will continue to grow and go through the school system so we have to go back to centering them.
If you could transport one thing from HGSE to your next destination, what would it be? My community of friends that I have made here. I wish we all could live in a neighborhood enclave together and create rad sustainable education structures and wrap-around solutions with one another.
What will you change in education and why? I will change the face of who gets to have say, who gets to flex executive power, and who is centered. I will also change conversations to ones of justice, growth (instead of proficiency), family engagement, and cultural competency. This is important because education doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it happens to people, particularly people who have been systemically disenfranchised from civic privileges in this country. It's important to find ways to provide agency to these communities to have the quality education that is a right of theirs, as citizens.