ABEN was formerly the
California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE)
ASI's history educating educators
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
@Creative Commons License for use, Photo:Rictor Norton & David Allen
Debra Watkins, MS, MEd, a veteran educator, established the California Alliance for African American Educators (CAAAE) in 2001. The non-profit's focus was on advocating for Black children who were being educationally marginalized in that state. To ensure academic and cultural excellence for students of African ancestry, Debra envisioned the CAAAE providing two-day Summer Institutes to inform and inspire educators with proven pedagogical resources.
Dating back to 2002, the CAAAE has offered Summer Institutes, and from the onset, these institutes were well-attended and given excellent evaluations by attendees. Over a 10-year period, held either at Stanford University or the University of California, Los Angeles, these institutes combined to serve more than 1,400 educators. They also featured some of the best and brightest researchers and practitioners throughout the United States.
After realizing that Institute attendees were not getting traction in the field with these great practices, the CAAAE took a four-year break from offering a Summer Institute and shifted energies to focus on policy work. After California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) became law in 2013, the ground seemed more fertile for culturally relevant pedagogy, and in 2016, the next Institute was held— but it was the final one under the banner of the California Alliance for African American Educators.
A true visionary and exceptional institution builder, Debra Watkins was deeply impacted by the astounding need— beyond California— to provide educators and community-school rights-holders with the type of resources in the CAAAE's arsenal. Over several years of hard work, and with an exceptional team of board members, Wisdom Circle advisors and thought partners, A Black Education Network (ABEN) was born. With the seeds of the CAAAE's expertise in professional development, combined with ABEN's national scope and circles of influence, the Summer Institutes bring cultural water to a parched community.
Please take the time to review the backgrounds and wealth of work our outstanding presenters and keynoters have shared with attendees over the Summer Institute's 15 years of history.
With the pedagogical knowledge that this year's powerful presenters will deliver, we know ABEN's virtual Summer Institute will rock on in history as one of the best ever.