Women’s Caucus (WC) Interest Group Column: Feb/Mar 2022

NAEA News Feb/Mar 2022

The columns for this issue of NAEA News were written prior to the 2022 National Convention. As such, you may find information about Convention sessions and references to past occurrences in the future tense.

A Tribute to Elizabeth Delacruz (1952–2021)

We invited Women’s Caucus Past Presidents Karen Keifer-Boyd (2010–2012) and Linda Hoeptner-Poling (2016–2018) to write a tribute to Elizabeth Delacruz.

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Elizabeth (Betsy) Delacruz held deep convictions toward being an upstander for justice. Her impact was profound as she put in motion, and did not give up, to remove racist mascots of schools and sports teams. Delacruz describes:

I also learned (the hard way) in my endeavors to convince the NAEA Delegates Assembly (comprised of 100 K-12 art teachers, two from each state) to adopt a position statement against the use of racist Indian Mascots in K-12 schools. The first year, I failed miserably. So, I went back to the drawing board and invited the most diverse group of art educators I could round up to help prepare the “background information” and “new language” for a proposal for a “Position Statement” to be shared in advance with the Delegates Assembly for the following year. The second year at the NAEA Delegates Assembly meeting, a majority of Delegates (K-12 teachers) voted to adopt our Position Statement, and the NAEA Board of Directors subsequently unanimously voted to adopt the Position Statement. (personal communication, May 2, 2020)

Throughout her professional life, her resolute vision was strong, as she spoke out when others were complacent. Delacruz did not hedge her words—always an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Past President of the NAEA Women’s Caucus with Joanna Rees, 2012–2014, Delacruz was the first and only female to ever achieve the rank of full professor in the art education program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Sadly, Betsy Delacruz’s life was cut short with her untimely death on December 9, 2021. Many women reached out to her to get perspective and to persevere in academia. Delacruz’s remix “Milking the Red Herring” (2013), created for her blog post “Assessing Collegiality in the Workplace: Holy Grail or Red Herring?,” was about how universities can be notoriously un-collegial places to work… [in which] women educators earn less across academic disciplines and at every level of teaching, they hold lower ranks and fewer positions of power within their educational institutions, they are bullied more and supported less than their male counterparts, they endure longstanding institutional policies that are inherently anti-family, and gender stereotypes, discrimination and evaluation bias continue to impede women’s advancement in the workplace. (paras. 1, 5)

Milking the Red Herring by Elizabeth Delacruz (2013)

Referring to herself as a “self-identified feminist, mom, and educator,” Delacruz reflects on feminists and feminism in the following:

If feminists have learned anything over the past 60+ years, and with considerable respect to Crenshaw’s writings over the past 30 years, it’s that feminism is broad, unwieldy, constantly in motion, and constantly being redefined, as any polymorphous self-identified political action movement is. Contemporary feminists believe in and engage in political action in all sorts of ways.

To self-identify as a feminist is both a personal choice and a political statement, one that leads, hopefully, to political action (including in one’s teaching practices). A reluctance amongst k-12 art teachers to OPENLY self-identify as a “feminist” is attributable in great part to the vicious, ever present, and vociferous backlash against any individuals or groups seeking to disrupt the power structures, especially when the disrupters are women. The backlash is about perpetuating the status quo. I suspect if one were to have a quiet conversation with k-12 teachers about what they believe, you would find strong alignment with core contemporary feminist principles. (personal communication, May 2, 2020)

Elizabeth Delacruz lives on with her work and a legacy of activist writing. We conclude with a resource that she prepared of her selected publications at


Delacruz, E. (2013, October 1). Assessing collegiality in the workplace: Holy Grail or red herring? E. Delacruz: Art Education in the 21st Century.
Instagram: @naeawc1973

Column by:

Kevin Jenkins, WC Co-President

Adetty Pérez de Miles, WC Co-President

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