This cover letter accompanied the "Open Letter to the AATG: A Ten-Point Program of the Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum (DDGC) Collective." The AATG Leadership Responded to this letter with a statement.
Dear Board of Directors of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG):
As you are now likely aware, more than 200 college, secondary school, and university teachers of German (many of them longstanding AATG members) in North America, as well as several additional critical friends from other disciplines and from Europe, have signed this appended Open Letter to the leadership of the AATG. The Letter was originally conceived by the 67 attendees of the 2019 Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Studies Curriculum (DDGC) meeting (March 1–3, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN / USA).
This is a complex document, composed collaboratively by scores of professionals with varying experiences, and from various generations and backgrounds as teachers and learners. It seeks to be broad and specific, critical and assistive at the same time. Many of the claims within it are reasonably applicable to other national professional organizations as well, and these will be conveyed to them in due course, in a similar form. We begin with the AATG because it is the organization that has the widest educational reach, from K-12-college-beyond. Moreover, this letter is directed to the AATG because of a number of recent troubling experiences between Scholars of Color and AATG leadership, though we do acknowledge that many other AATG members have been supportive of projects to dismantle racism.
We understand that it will take time, research, reflection, and dialogue for AATG leadership to develop substantive and considered transformative action toward shaping the future of the organization and its diverse membership / stakeholders, as they express themselves in this Open Letter. We also understand that some of the propositions herein will strike various among you, on first inspection, as true or untrue, fair or unfair, realistic or unrealistic, germane or tangential. We encourage you to take time to discuss these differences of viewpoint over the coming months. But we also ask you to explore the propositions in the Letter on their merits, and to presume the credibility of the experiences to which they attest. This means setting aside habits of defensiveness that so often overwhelm such moments of reflection.
The ideas conveyed in this Letter have resonated deeply with over 200 of our professional colleagues in the field, already in the three days since its public consideration, including many leaders involved in organizations like the GSA, WiG, CAUTG, and MLA. This overwhelming response reveals something profound and important about this moment in our educational landscape nationally and internationally, a moment for which we all share responsibility as teachers. It also illustrates the high expectations that our 200 signatories desire to invest in our national organizations—as critical trusts, models for institutional leadership, and guides accompanying us in rigorous ethical action and advocacy in times of ongoing injustice and impunity. Some of those signatories appear, over time, to have lost interest in national organizations like the AATG, and we hope their voices (in the form of this letter) indicate their willingness to participate anew in the transformation of the organization and the profession.
We hope for an ongoing, holistic, public conversation that involves all of us, all of our professional organizations, and all of our institutions. We are here to help, to dialogue, and to imagine the future of our work together with you and the AATG as a whole.
Considering the importance of this moment for our profession, we encourage you to take the time you need to engage the Open Letter substantively and in its complexity—and to do so by way of the public venues available to you. We do not expect any immediate response, nor is a response to the Letter itself the most important next step. Rather, we suggest that August 31 of this year would be a good juncture for AATG (and any partner organizations) to publicly address transformations it is undertaking, or planning to undertake, in correspondence with the substance of this Letter. This moment is important enough not to rush hasty or top-down solutions.
Again, we offer you our experience, time, and assistance in developing a plan of action. We have designated contact persons for our Collective below for ease of communication. We look forward to our continued conversation.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Beverly Weber (Beverly.Weber@colorado.edu)
Ervin Malakaj (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Priscilla Layne (email@example.com)
David J. Gramling (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Regine Criser (email@example.com)
Andrea Bryant (firstname.lastname@example.org)