Manny Salgado, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, has heard others say the complex work of equity practice is ‘something that is done badly or not done at all.’ “Learning and practicing this, you might make a mistake, especially when you are touching on issues related to race, immigration, disabilities, etc.,” said Salgado. “There are a lot of potholes you can fall into, but if you never practice, you’ll never know how to do it better. The fact that you are doing it is what’s important.”
Practicing equity work is something Salgado has been involved in most of his life and throughout his 17 years at Elgin Community College. He is one of the core members of TIDE-Teaching/Learning for Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity, a faculty group that embraces and welcomes mistakes made to learn from them and become better educators. Salgado was proudly a part of drafting out the seven aspirational guidelines for the group that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the classroom. “It took us a long time to navigate, but it was a really good process,” said Salgado. “Now we have the foundation of how to grow from that document.”
Salgado places interest and importance on research, specifically on promoting a sense of belonging in the classroom, specifically for Black and Latinx students, and making sure the climate is safe for all to share their own stories. “When you are training to become a teacher, it is easy to think about content instead of thinking about the student as a holistic, complex person,” said Salgado. “Every time I enter my classroom, I like to consider that. My class is just a smaller part of their lives at the moment. I like to bring those other parts of their stories in the content we are sharing.”
Salgado is also a leader in ECC’s Student Success Infrastructure (SSI), which works to improve student success among diverse populations. Through SSI, Salgado was influential in hiring ECC’s new Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Anthony Ramos. Currently, his main focus is working with undocumented students alongside Wellness Professional Vinny Cascio. Together, they’ve created a leadership committee and recently finished the comprehensive training program to help other faculty, staff, and administration work with undocumented students and best put it into practice and service for those students. Salgado is also working closely with IR to obtain data on the number of undocumented students ECC serves to enhance efforts to recognize and assist these students the best way possible.
Salgado also helps lead the Faculty Equity Project, which promotes and assists faculty in assessing their student outcome data through a disaggregated form and analyzing through an equity lens. “This is so we can more visually see what is happening in our classrooms with these different populations of students,” said Salgado. “Aggregated data can hide a lot of what is happening, especially for our minoritized populations.” After the data is interrogated, Salgado and the nine additional faculty members contributing to the project will develop projects within their own classroom to assess what does and does not work, based on their findings.
Salgado’s work with EDI at ECC continues with his involvement in assessment strategy teams and being a member and voice for the Illinois Equity and Attainment (ILEA). With many efforts and initiatives underway at the college to create a more equitable environment, Salgado also continues to learn how to do this work better through professional development opportunities. This past summer, he completed coaching through the National Alliance of Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), which worked on building competencies on how to be an equity coach for someone, in addition to an MIT course on how to be a more equitable educator.
“There’s a personal passion for seeing justice done for those who have less power in the country, but specifically in education,” said Salgado. “As an educational professional, it is my responsibility to be out and involved in these efforts.”