Dr. William F. Tate IV, who becomes the first Black university president in the SEC, was not included in the initial list of eight semifinalists published by the special committee appointed to interview candidates for the position.
On May 6, 2021,m the Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors selected Dr. William F. Tate IV as its new president, the first black man to lead a university in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Many alumni have raised questions over the hiring process, after the original list of eight semi-finalists for the position did not include Tate’s name. Tate takes over as university president on July 2.
Tate has authored dozens of scholarly works in critical race theory as it relates to mathematics education. The selection of Tate comes amid several ongoing scandals at LSU regarding sexual assault, Title IX violations, and student and faculty social justice protests over the history of LSU.
He beat out two other finalists, Kelvin Droegemeier and Jim Henderson. Droegemeier served as President Trump’s science advisor. Henderson is president of the Louisiana public college system. Tate’s name was not included in the initial list of eight semifinalists published by the special committee appointed to interview candidates for the position.
Tate, the former Provost at the University of South Carolina, has academic specialties in sociology, mathematics, and epidemiology. He lists the following specialties on his LinkedIn page: “Specialties: Social determinants of mathematics, engineering, technology, and science attainment, (2) geospatial and epidemiological modeling of health and human development, (3) political economy of urban metropolitan regions, and (4) leadership in public-private learning alliances and research collaborations.” Tate has authored articles advocating for reform in mathematics education for African American students in primary education as a way to engage them in American democracy.
You can read more about about Critical Race Training at LSU at our CriticalRace.org website.
In 1994, Tate authored a paper titled, “Race, Retrenchment, and Reform of School Mathematics.” He wrote, “The prospect for a new beginning in mathematics education rests with the ability of mathematics teachers to provide pedagogy that builds and expands on the experience of African American students and focuses on preparing these students to function within our democracy.”
A 1995 paper Tate co-authored with Gloria Ladson-Billings is widely credited with putting Critical Race Theory on the map, not just as theoretical examination, but practice in education. The paper, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education,” states [emphasis added]:
We argue that the current multicultural paradigm functions in a manner similar to civil rights law. Instead of creating radically new paradigms that ensure justice, multicultural reforms are repeatedly “sucked back into the system” and just as traditional civil rights law is based in a tradition of human rights, the current multicultural paradigm is mired in liberal ideology that offers no radical change in the current order. Thus, critical race theory in education, like its antecedent in legal scholarship, is a radical critique of both the status quo and the purported reforms.
We make this observation of the current multicultural paradigm not to disparage the scholarly efforts and sacrifices of many of its proponents, but to underscore the difficulty (indeed impossibility) of maintaining the spirit and intent of justice for the oppressed while simultaneously permitting the hegemonic rule of the oppressor. Thus, as critical race theory scholars, we unabashedly reject a paradigm that attempts to be everything to everyone and consequently becomes nothing to anyone, allowing the status quo to prevail. Instead, we align our scholarship and activism with the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, who believed the black man was universally oppressed on racial grounds, and that any program of emancipation would have to be built around the question of race first. In his own words, Garvey speaks to us clearly and unequivocally:
In a world of wolves one should go armed, and one of the most powerful defensive weapons within reach of Negroes is the practice of race first in all parts of the world.
Tate’s co-author, Ladson-Billings, later wrote a chapter for a college textbook, The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Education. She wrote in an abstract of the chapter,
In 1998 I published an article entitled, “Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education?” (Ladson-Billings, 1998). This article was a follow-up to the article that William Tate and I (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) published that first introduced Critical Race Theory to the education research community. In the 1998 article I attempted to offer both caution and encouragement to my colleagues. I cautioned those who would jump headlong into Critical Race Theory (CRT) without doing the hard work of reading the legal scholarship in which CRT is grounded. Without those foundational perspectives and knowledge education scholars are likely to sound both uniformed and ignorant. Despite that challenge I also wanted to encourage young scholars to think beyond the narrow paradigms that have historically delimited education research and scholarship. I am happy to report that more scholars have taken up the challenge to use CRT as a theoretical lens and analytic tool. That scholarship has expanded to include what we now know as LatCrit, Critical Race Feminism, and a variety of other strands. This chapter focuses on the basic theoretical assumptions that ground CRT and raises questions about its future in education research.
An article at EdWeek.com credits Tate, Ladson-Billings, and other pioneers of CRT for informing primary education administrators on how to take race into account for disciplinary outcomes:
Education scholars Gloria Ladson-Billings, William Tate, and others have noted that critical race theory calls upon principals and teachers to examine how history, politics, culture, and economics inform our understanding of race, racism, and other forms of marginalization.
One could reasonably conclude that Tate, his colleagues, and academia in general consider him a pioneer in the theory and practice of Critical Race Theory, especially as pertains to mathematics pedagogy in primary education.
Tate is expected to enact social justice reforms on campus, especially considering the ongoing scandals in athletics and other campus protests:
LSU stakeholders should prepare to see Tate push hard on diversity, equity and inclusion with specific action steps and little patience for window-dressing moves.
The new president of Louisiana State University appears to have the academic credentials, but questions remain about the environment in which LSU selected him, and his intentions in regards to his vision for the university’s direction going forward.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.DONATE
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