Annual Report 2020

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Animation Artist: Michael Machira Mwangi

President's Message

Thomas Bailey

Open quotesLooking back on 2020, I am proudest that our community not only has endured and survived the pandemic, but also has been galvanized by it.Close quotes

Special Report: Empowering our Partners in the Time of COVID

The past year was a time of upheaval that tested the resilience of individuals, communities and nations around the world.

But might 2020 look different in hindsight?

The Year That Was

The past year was a time of upheaval that tested the resilience of individuals, communities and nations around the world.

But might 2020 look different in hindsight?

Crises, after all, often engender profound change. The Great Depression — to which the current moment is widely compared — spurred the creation of a new social safety net, new safeguards in finance and commerce, a vastly improved infrastructure of roads, bridges, parks and other public works, a flowering in the arts and a general strengthening of civil society.

Might the current moment mark the beginning of such a time? Now, as then, everything has been called into question: how we work, how we teach and learn, how we view human difference, and how we understand the guiding premises of our democracy. Now, as then, a better future depends on our ability to learn from experience, create and apply new models and approaches and reaffirm and reinterpret our values for a new age.

During 2020 — as in so many past eras — the faculty, students and alumni of Teachers College, were in the forefront of addressing these huge challenges, working with schools, colleges, hospitals, communities, nonprofits and all levels of government.

In the following special report, we bring you our story of

Empowering Our Partners in the Times of COVID

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Digital Teaching & Learning

Bringing Teaching to the Small Screen

Like nothing before it, the COVID pandemic has upended teaching and learning in United States and around the world. The numbers have fluctuated, but in August, UNESCO estimated that 1.6 billion children had been affected by school closings. According to a report in October by Bellwether Education Partners, 3 million of the most marginalized U.S. students had stopped connecting with their schools.

Meanwhile, principals, teachers, students and parents have been forced to navigate online using an array of unfamiliar technologies. Despite efforts to distribute laptops and other tools, disparities in access to devices and the internet have widened the gulf between wealthier, primarily white districts and those serving poorer families of color.

When the crisis first shuttered schools, Teachers College faculty spoke at town hall meetings, offered advice in televised appearances and opinion pieces, and worked directly with teachers.

More recently, in a landscape in which digital is the new normal, they have moved to the forefront in partnering with schools to realize the medium’s potential to better engage, inspire and empower students.

In this section:

A computer screen shows a woman connecting via zoom to an in-person classroom

Heroes on the Frontlines

Above and Beyond: TC heroes on the Frontlines

In spring 2020, when The Public Matters, a Teachers College-based public opinion survey, asked whom Americans trusted most to shape the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer, overwhelmingly, was frontline health care providers — the people fighting the disease day in and day out.

It was another reminder of a society’s dependence, especially during a crisis, on its “quiet professionals” — essential service providers whose allegiance is to their work and those whom they serve.

From the pandemic’s first days, TC faculty, trustees, students and, perhaps most of all, alumni have worked on the front lines in education, health and psychology, sometimes putting their lives on the line.

Here are some of their stories.

A hospital employee attends to a patient in a hospital bed

Science & Hope

Fighting Back Against COVID: It Starts with Research

These are the moments when we turn to science and education for answers. At a time of growing antipathy toward the academy, the creation, at record speed, of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 has reignited faith in research. But there were other major fallouts of the pandemic, and Teachers College’s researchers have been leaders in understanding and proposing new strategies for combating them.


Fighting for Racial Justice

The past year showed, yet again, how deeply racism is woven into the fabric of American society — but it may also be remembered as the moment when people truly began to say, “Enough.”

The police killings of unarmed Black Americans galvanized support for the Black Lives Matter movement and triggered protests around the world — including at Teachers College, where an online community forum drew nearly 500 viewers. America elected Kamala Harris as its first Black Vice President (she is also the first woman to hold the post, and the first person of South Asian heritage) — and the Biden-Harris victory was sealed by outcomes in Arizona and Georgia, two previously “red” states. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order that called on Congress to grant permanent status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers — undocumented young people brought to the United States as children. He also ended the Muslim travel ban, repealed the Trump administration’s arrest policies for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and stopped construction of the border wall.

But change also took place at the local level and rippled through different sectors of society — and the TC extended family helped spur that process.


Empowering the TC Community

When Thomas Bailey was inaugurated as Teachers College’s 11th President in 2018, his message was that, to help build a stronger and more equitable society, TC first needed to build “a stronger and more effective Teachers College.”
More specifically, Bailey sketched a vision of an administrative restructure that would more effectively “encourage brilliant people to pool their ideas and efforts to achieve common aims” and develop “comprehensive solutions to deep problems.”

Since, the College has launched a range of efforts aimed at fulfilling Bailey’s vow to “create pathways for all to flourish.” The pandemic has kicked that work into even higher gear, moving to the forefront in delivering teaching and learning online, reimagining its research culture to promote collaborations and enable more faculty to fund their work, and establishing a new career development center to help students and alumni prepare not only for the next job, but for the many job and career changes they will make throughout their lives.

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