The Academy

I’m about 10% through an EdD in Instructional Leadership.

When I’m done, I may have a few choices, some of which I need to make beforehand to position myself better.

Presuming I’m a strong student and I am lucky enough to present at a conference or two (or even publish), I could:

  1. Just keep doing what I’m doing but with expertise
  2. Work in ed industry leadership in some way
  3. Try to enter the academy

There’s a lot of others, but that’s what I’m really thinking about. I can analyze options 1 and 2 later on, but I’m writing about number 3.

So take a look at this awful situation. The scholar in question is a good friend of mine, and someone I greatly admire. But even if that weren’t true, it would still be resonant to me.

I haven’t at all had the career or life of Dan-el. But I could certainly be a new scholar or professor in ten years. And I’m definitely black. What’s to stop me from having to fight that like he is?

Would I be unable to deal with it? Dan-el provided his own perspective here and it’s a useful addition to the news article. And like him, I’m sure I would swallow my anger and write about it (though not as well as he does).

But I don’t want to have to. Like Dan-el I’m sure, I’ve dealt with nonsense like that being the only black guy in the room, both in education and in working. And I think it had a really serious impact on me, mentally and emotionally. It takes a toll to hold back your responses, and to know fighting back would be more severe than it’s worth.

On the other hand, teaching and researching at the university level sounds really interesting and cool. I think I’d enjoy the field, even as it changes into what it might be thirty years from now.

I’ve been reading a lot of what it’s like, though.

My own professor said, and data backs this up, you’re basically getting 67k a year when you start as an assistant professor, depending on the school. There are other benefits, of course, but still. And most postdocs are lower (I said most, not all).

Basically, it’d be a paycut now, and by the time I was in a position for such a thing, it might possibly be a large one. I may well have a child by then, and frankly, I might not even be able to afford that line of work.

That’s not the only reason, of course. It’s also the possibility of needing to move for work, and no.

But even if it was more appealing, there’s the bigotry. The education research field isn’t remarkably more diverse than that of academia in general. It’s better, yeah, but it’s still a rough go.

Part of me thinks it’s a revolutionary act to join, to try and change things from within. Part of me thinks, as I read online at some point, that you don’t fix a broken system, you just break people.

So I really don’t know. Do I have less strength than my forebears? Or would opting out be a wise choice from which I could do more?

I have no answer to this. I’m going to attend a few conferences, do some strong writing, and see how it shakes out.