By Kaine Korzekwa
Kevin Kumashiro, the dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, believes that merging the basics of teaching and education with social justice work is the best form of advocacy.
In 2000, Kumashiro received his PhD in educational policy studies from UW–Madison and worked in academia for a few years. After needing a change, he left to start the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education and work at the National Education Association. Finally, he moved back into higher education and now serves as dean of USF’s School of Education.
“I feel like the work I did outside of higher education really opened my eyes to the many ways you can do advocacy work in education,” he explains. “It’s not common to leave higher ed and return, but it’s also not impossible. Following your heart and your passions is so important and opens doors you would never have imagined.”
In his role as a dean, Kumashiro, who also received his M.A. in educational policy studies from UW–Madison, works to articulate the vision of the school, leveraging his experience to move the school toward its goals.
“I feel it’s important for people to know that while they think many positions in education can’t also be activist or advocate roles, that’s just not true,” he says. “We must think about our work as this really important blending of education work and social justice work. I like to get us talking about the major areas of work that we do anyway that we can re-imagine. What does it mean to do that kind of work as a form of movement building?”
“I think our biggest responsibility is to reimagine and reframe what it means to be an academic. That’s why it’s so important that those who are really committed to social change search for the different roles available to have the kind of impact that they’re looking to have.”
Kumashiro adds that his time at UW–Madison and great “dream team” of mentors and advisors taught him numerous skills that helped him be successful — whether it was in higher education or in Washington, D.C. making resources for teachers interested in social justice.