The Director’s Corner

Fall 2013

image of Janice Hale

Janice E. Hale, Ph.D.

Professor of Early Childhood Education

Founding Director of ISAAC

Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan

Welcome to the Inaugural Issue of African American Learners Journal of the Institute for the Study of the African American Child.  This Inaugural Issue is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III who was the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University at the time of his passing.  This issue contains five articles written in tribute to Dr. Hilliard.

     As we honor Asa Hilliard, I would also like to take the launching of this first issue as an opportunity to pass out roses to the living.  It seems appropriate to document the contributions of those who have enabled us to reach this momentous milestone.  First of all, I would like to give honor to James C. Young, Professor of Early Childhood Education at Clark Atlanta University.  James Young was my major professor at Georgia State University where I received my doctoral degree in Early Childhood Education.  My first professorial position was as an Assistant Professor at what was then Clark College in 1974.  James Young and I saw the need for an educational research institute in the early 1970s.  At that time, we held numerous meetings with principals at the Institute of the Black World (IBW), such as  Vincent Harding, Howard Dodson and William Strickland.  Our proposal was that the focus of IBW (which was on historical and political science research) be broadened under our direction to include education.  A tentative agreement was reached to move in that direction, but in hindsight, I can see that we weren’t quite ready at that time.  I just want the readers to know that the vision of ISAAC was born about 30 years prior to its realization.  I also want the readers to know that James C. Young has been there with me all of the time.  When I decided to approach the Associate Dean for Research at Wayne State University with the concept of ISAAC, the first person I called for mentorship was James C. Young.  When he faced a health challenge, I tapped Hakim Rashid, Associate Professor of Psychoeducational Studies at Howard University for back-up mentorship service.  He answered the call and has worked silently in the background providing invaluable guidance, advice and support.

    Let the record show that the idea for creating a research journal of ISAAC came from Hakim Rashid.  ISAAC sponsored the Inaugural Conference on Research Directions (CORD) in 2009 at Hilton Head, South Carolina.  This is an empirical research conference with the perennial theme of “The African American Child in School.”  During my Plenary Address, I asked the conferees to coalesce into an organization designed to foster the Research Mission of ISAAC.  Following my address, the conferees suggested that time be built into future programs so that we could work in committees and begin our work at the conference.  Hakim Rashid brought to me the suggestion that we create a journal.  Over a dinner at Charley’s Crab, Hakim Rashid, James Young and I met with  V.P. Franklin, Distinguished Professor and Presidential Chair at the University of California, Riverside, who had served as a keynote speaker at the conference.  V.P. Franklin wrote the Foreword for two of my books and a cover blurb for my first book.  He has assisted me as a friend and mentor since we met at Yale University in the late 1970’s.  I was a post-doctoral fellow there and he was an assistant professor.  At that meeting at Hilton Head, the journal of ISAAC was born.

    I first encountered Gloria Boutte when I reviewed her application for tenure and promotion to associate professor  in 1995 at the University of South Carolina (USC).  Subsequently, I reviewed her application for promotion to full professor in 2008.  Following that review, I had a speaking engagement at Morris Hood College in Sumter, South Carolina.  I approached her department chair Diane Stephens about the possibility of having the College of Education at USC serve as a co-sponsor for the CORD conference.  I wanted to have local support for the conference that was planned to perennially be held at Hilton Head.  Diane Stephens contributed to expenses associated with the conference and also introduced me to Gloria Boutte.  Gloria Boutte arranged for a luncheon meeting at which she included Susi Long, professor of Education at USC.  They were both Schuyler and Yvonne Moore Child Advocacy Professors at USC.  Through their endowment, they contributed toward the expenses of the CORD conference and both served as Co-Chairs of the Conference in 2009 and in 2011.

    Gloria Boutte was my choice for Editor of the journal of ISAAC.  Gloria Boutte asked Hakim Rashid if he would serve as co-editor with her and he accepted.  At the 2011 CORD conference, I scheduled time during the conference for committee meetings, as suggested by the 2009 conferees.  Three committees were created:  1) Publications; 2) Research Collaboration; and 3) Grantsmanship.  Conferees who had attended the 2009 conference and were returning were asked to chair the committee meetings.  

    At the meeting of the Publications Committee, the title of the journal was decided.  The editorial board was created.  The Aim and Scope of the journal was written.  The publication schedule was set.  Gloria Boutte and Hakim Rashid have worked tirelessly for over a year to produce this Inaugural Issue of African American Learners.  Two members of the Publications committee were asked by me to serve as co-editors of the CORD Conference Proceedings which will appear in 2013.   For the first time, the full manuscripts of presentations made at the conference will be available on the ISAAC web site following the conference.  The co-editors of the Conference Proceedings are Marisha Humphries, Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Chicago and Erika Taylor, Evaluation Specialist, Research and Evaluation Department, Prince Georges’ County Public Schools, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

    We launch this journal as a second step (after the CORD conference) toward building an intellectual infrastructure within the African American community that can give direction to, in the words of Asa Hilliard, “the most stubborn pedagogical problems” facing the education of African American children.  This is the primary objective.  We as educators must reclaim the turf we have ceded to psychologists, lawyers, physicians, businessmen – even former Presidents to craft solutions to problems that should be solved by educators.  In the words of  James Young, “everyone feels that they can do education.”  

    In order to build this intellectual infrastructure, we need to enhance the ability of scholars who work on issues related to African American children to publish their work – hence the journal.  We have created the CORD conference as a place where they can network, present their work, obtain guidance, nurturance and collaboration.  Our goal is to create collaborative research projects through which we can amass data bases, design accurate instruments for data collection and overall improve the science for research on African American educational issues.  The complement to those efforts will be to collaborate on grantsmanship to ensure that African American children receive their fair share of research dollars to resolve the achievement gap that affects them.

    The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPSY) was created in the 1970’s.  The creation of that organization enabled a stellar group of African American psychologists in that generation to obtain tenure in some of the most prestigious universities in the country.   ABPSY launched the Journal of Black Psychology and held numerous Conferences on Empirical Research in Black Psychology.  These initiatives enabled African American psychologists to sustain careers in the academy.  There is a need for a comparable infrastructure to likewise enable educational scholars to complete doctoral degrees, obtain tenure and sustain academic careers.

    Furthermore, even though we have a collection of scholars and graduate students at Howard University who have produced exemplary research and scholarship, the reality is that most scholars of African American research are spread out throughout the country.  There is a need for an entity such as ISAAC to be a well that they can draw from in identifying topics for graduate and post-doctoral research that are on the cutting edge of African American thought.  Hopefully, CORD and African American Learners are first steps in that process.

    As we go forth, it is important to note that neither ISAAC, nor the Journal have funding of any kind.  We are dependent upon donations and memberships to keep our Mission moving forward.  Therefore, I solicit your support in joining ISAAC and renewing your memberships annually.  Through the generous donations of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Monica and John Pearson, Yvonne Jackson and V.P. Franklin, we have been able to incorporate features on our web site where memberships and conference registrations can be paid online; manuscripts and proposals can be submitted online, as well.  These are expensive features, but they eliminate the cost of needing staff members to process those operations.  

    I would like to give a rose to Paula Wood, the former Dean of the College of Education at Wayne State University under whom I served for 20 years.  Her initial support enabled me lay the intellectual and human foundation for ISAAC by giving me the release time to conceptualize our Mission and by providing resources for building the coalitions that are propelling us forward.  Dr. Wood provided me with release time and the assistance of a grant writer.  I spent nine months writing grants for the funding of every component of ISAAC.  In the coming year, I intend to match those proposals with funders.  We are long distance runners.  We are seeking to keep the Mission moving as we search for an income stream to launch each of the five components of the Institute.

Finally, a rose is also given to Carolyn Shields, the current Dean of the College of Education for allowing ISAAC to continue as a research institute of the College of Education under her leadership.

Each issue of the journal will feature this column, “The Director’s Corner,” which may provide information about events and initiatives of ISAAC.   Additionally, I may choose to comment on topics addressed in the current issue of the journal.  Likewise, each issue of the journal will feature a column, “The Editor’s Corner” in which the co-editors address issues of their choice.  There will be occasions when we will extend invitations to Guest Editors to write in these spaces.

Please note the Events Section in the Journal where the Save the Date flier is posted for the 3rd biannual CORD conference that will be held at the Omni (formerly Hilton) Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  Everything that is needed for submitting proposals and paying for registrations can be accomplished through the ISAAC web site,  Please join us.  It is a unique experience featuring a conference on the oceanfront communing with the historic Gullah community.

Please support the Journal of ISAAC by submitting manuscripts and encouraging your graduates and colleagues to do likewise.  Also assist us in publicizing the launch of African American Learners by notifying your colleagues and professional associations throughout the world.