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Dudley Flood Center to take up work of the governor’s DRIVE Task Force

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For nearly four years, Gov. Cooper’s DRIVE Task Force has centered on Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education (DRIVE). The group is made up of parents, educators, and representatives from both the University of North Carolina System and North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS). Together, they developed a report and have traveled across the state to identify practices for diversifying the education field in North Carolina. 

The task force met virtually on Tuesday to discuss the succession plan in light of the task force’s scheduled ending at the close of 2023.

About the DRIVE Task Force

On Dec. 9, 2019, Gov. Cooper issued Executive Order No. 113, which established the DRIVE Task Force. According to their final report, the task force targeted equity and inclusion within education, in part by addressing diversity of the educator workforce.

The group was charged with submitting a comprehensive report that “assesses the state’s progress in increasing educator diversity in K-12 public schools” while identifying strategies to recruit, retain, develop, and support more educators of color. 

Governor Roy Cooper addresses the audience at the 2019 DRIVE conference. Robert Kinlaw/EducationNC

Published in 2021, the final report displays relevant data, articulates the challenges of developing and sustaining a diverse educator workforce, and provides recommendations and performance indicators for the goal.

The task force’s 2021 expiration was extended, leading to the DRIVE Task Force Tour.

Members traveled statewide to learn from people, programs, and practices that aid in educator preparation, recruitment, and retention. Thus far, the group has visited Edgecombe, Robeson, and Buncombe counties as regional stops. Throughout, the task force has learned about local “Grow Your Own” initiatives, higher education programs and scholarship opportunities, philanthropic and nonprofit collaborations, and many other efforts. 

The last stop of the tour is scheduled for Nov. 16 and 17 in Winston-Salem. The tour’s end made the final vote for the succession plan a necessity — to determine how the work would continue.

Following a presentation for consideration at the second tour stop, Tuesday’s virtual meeting saw a unanimous vote in favor of the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity’s (Flood Center) designation as the governing body of the task force’s work moving forward.

Dudley Flood Center continues the DRIVE

The mission of the Flood Center is to address “issues of systemic racism by advocating for structural changes in policy and practice to build an equitable education system that meets the social, emotional, and academic needs of NC’s diverse student population.” 

Dr. Deanna Townsend-Smith, senior director of the Dudley Flood Center. Derick Lee/EducationNC

As noted by Senior Director Dr. Townsend-Smith, many of the Flood Center’s programs already align with the task force’s aforementioned recommendations. For example, the Flood Center’s Equity Incubator Programming addresses recruitment and retention efforts in North Carolina to address systemic teacher pipeline and diversity issues. The organization hosts a number of opportunities that support the development and community among educational leaders. Additionally, through Color of Education and Mapping the Movement and initiatives alike, the Flood Center has managed to regularly convene an expansive network of stakeholders who collaboratively push for equity in education. 

“We will continue the aspiration components around the work,” Townsend-Smith said. “We will continue to push for action toward diversifying the educator workforce. We will continue advocacy efforts and continue to establish accountability.”

Derick Lee

Derick Lee is a regional storyteller for EdNC.