Each year, the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice (ITOC) brings together roughly 120 educators from around the nation for a three-day conference designed to support the leadership capacities of teachers of Color who serve mostly students of Color. Co-founded by Dr. Rita Kohli, ITOC conference’s programming has addressed issues including coping with increased standardized testing pressures, resource inequities, and the current racial and political climate. The event also creates a safe space for teachers of Color to connect and support one another.
After attending the event for two running years, GSOE graduate student Andrea Carreno Cortez (M.Ed., Diversity and Equity) was inspired to launch a student organization that mirrors ITOC’s mission for future educators at UCR. With the guidance of Dr. Kohli, she and undergraduate student Lesly Monsalve started Future Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice (FTOC). FTOC President Carreno Cortez discusses the mission and goals of the new organization.
Tell us about Future Teachers of Color (FTOC) Committed to Racial Justice. FTOC’s mission is to bring together and build a community of racial justice-oriented students of Color from UCR who want to pursue teaching in a K-12 or higher education, and other careers in the education field. Our main goal is to empower future educators of Color to teach for racial and social justice in order to build racially transformative classrooms and schools. We hope to do this by creating a safe space for students to critically think and talk about educational issues involving race and racism, providing volunteer opportunities in educational settings, and by inviting guest speakers to share their racial and social justice work with us.
I am incredibly proud of the community of future educators of Color that has already began to grow in the short time that FTOC has been present at UCR. We have created a safe space to hear each other out by sharing our personal experiences of navigating the K-12 schooling system as students of Color. What is most inspiring as well is our ability to hear and build on each other’s ideas of ways to bring racial and social justice into education.
What inspired you to start FTOC? FTOC is inspired by the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice. Coming up on its 10th year, what I most admire about the ITOC conference is the community building opportunity that it has provided for many K-12 teachers of Color from across the country who work towards racial justice every day. This what inspired me to start an on-campus organization for future educators that could model what ITOC is doing. In addition, Dr. Rita Kohli, a professor from the Graduate School of Education and co-founder of the ITOC conference, has been a huge inspiration of FTOC. Dr. Kohli has helped me and Lesly Monsalve, FTOC’s vice president and co-founder, throughout the process of creating the organization, and we are very grateful for her support.
Can you tell us about some of the goals and future plans for the organization? We are really looking forward to our main event of the year, which is the ITOC conference in June. FTOC members will volunteer throughout the three-day event and will get the chance to meet and connect with current teachers of Color to learn about the racial justice work they do every day in their classrooms and community. We look forward to having FTOC Community Outreach Coordinators, Maria Fernanda Lizarraga and Guillermo Valdin, reach out to local schools and social-justice organizations to hopefully get in contact and collaborate with them soon.
I am also excited about the work we will be doing with FTOC’s social media coordinator, Jacqueline Aguilar, secretary, Julian Felix, and treasurer, Sureya Washburn, to help make FTOC a great experience for its members. We plan to fundraise to help future FTOC members pay for their CBEST and/or CSET tests needed to apply for teaching credential programs. We also plan to fundraise for FTOC members to attend talks and conferences on racial and social justice, and to create FTOC shirts and buttons to wear to these events.
How can interested students learn more about joining FTOC? If you identify as a UCR student of Color who is passionate about education and is committed to learning more about and doing racial/social justice work, I encourage you to join FTOC! There is no specific major/program you must be in to join.