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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

How Educators Can Turn Grief into Action

This article originally appeared on Rodney Robinson’s blog and is reprinted with permission.

Yesterday, I woke up to a country and a city in crisis.  I had text messages from former students who are now in their late 20’s looking for guidance and advice. Teachers who are close friends and some strangers have asked for my advice on what they should be doing. I did my best to calm their fears and try to help them channel their anger, anxiety, and aggression into a more impactful way but soon became overwhelmed at the sheer hopelessness of the situation.  Like everyone, I’ve been sulking and processing the events of the past week. 

Politicians, the media, and pundits love to use the term systemic racism to describe what is going on to generalize the problems of being black in America. While this is true, we must address the causes of systemic racism and not allow them to generalize and describe the system they are complicit in maintaining. We must push them to make systemic racism more than a buzzword.  We must push them to define systemic racism and demand solutions that provide actionable change and implementation which most aren’t willing to do because they must sacrifice their comfort and position.  

Peaceful protests and uprisings are not inspired just from the frustration of a lynched unarmed Black man. This is the frustration that comes from an inherently racist society that was built to subjugate Black people.  According to Ta-Nehisi Coates, the “destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include frisking, detainings, beatings, and humiliations.” It also comes from lack of safe, affordable neighborhoods, an education system that punishes black and brown boys and girls at rates 3-4 times higher than white kids, and a criminal system that stalks and preys on black bodies limiting their opportunities for physical and financial freedom.

Desegregation, White Resistance to Brown, and the Emergence of Schools Named for Confederates

Monument in Richmond, Virginia commemorating protests which helped bring about school desegregation

This essay is excerpted from Leslie T. Fenwick’s forthcoming book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: Public Policy and the Near-Decimation of Black School Leadership after Brown. The excerpt provides a brief history about how many public schools came to be named for confederates and racist politicians who fought against integration and illegally resisted the Brown decision.

In 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education legal decision proclaimed that segregation had no place in America’s public schools. With this new law of the land and ensuing federal pressure to desegregate, school districts in 17 dual system states complied by closing black schools and firing, demoting and dismissing legions of exceptionally credentialed black principals and teachers. At the time, closing black schools was the primary method for ridding the system of black principals and teachers most of whom were better credentialed than their white peers. Directly after Brown there was little displacement of black principals and teachers, but as Title VI compliance mandates increased, the National Education Association (NEA) received reports from black teachers’ associations indicating that displacements were increasing.

In late 1969, C. J. Duckworth who served as executive secretary to the Mississippi Teachers Association clarified the link between black school closures and black principal firing and demotions in 17 Mississippi school districts. In his report to the NEA, he wrote:

Alcorn County – the black high school reduced to a junior high school and the black principal demoted to a federal projects coordinators; Clarke County – the black high school reduced to a junior high school and the principal made an elementary principal for remainder of the year, after which he was to be terminated; Clay County – the black high school reduced to a junior high school with a white principal; ….Franklin County – a black elementary principal replaced by a white principal; Hancock County – the black high school phased out and only two of 10 black teachers remain; Harrison County – a black junior-senior high school eliminated and the black principal made supervisor of a material center;….Itawamba County – all black schools and principals eliminated; ….Prentiss County – black high schools and principals phased out; ….Marion County – black high school principals replaced with whites…. (p. 5332)

AACTE Celebrates SCOTUS Decisions Supporting Diversified Educator Workforce

DACA LGBTQ concept

AACTE celebrates the recent rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in support of the LGBTQ community and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. AACTE commends the two decisions and their significant impact for growing a diversified educator workforce prepared by AACTE member institutions to meet the needs of diverse learners.

For the first time in American schools, LGBTQ teachers will not fear the loss of employment when self-identifying thanks to the SCOTUS June 15 ruling. It affirms the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. AACTE believes representation of LGBTQ educators in schools is vital to the mental and physical health of LGBTQ students, particularly Black transgender youth. The SCOTUS decision will increase the visibility of gender diverse teachers on all levels of the education system and will help students gain a deeper understanding about the LGBTQ community.

Sow Seeds of Justice

Jacob EasleyThis article originally appeared on the Graduate School of Education at Touro College website and is reprinted with permission.

To the Touro GSE community, our candidates, and in particular, the youth and children we serve by way of our educator preparation programs, I write to you in solidarity with the many educators across the United States who collectively speak out against the horrific brutality and the death of George Floyd and many others. The world is watching. These are indeed troubling times coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our president of Touro College and University System, Dr. Alan Kadish has led the charge for those of us within the Touro academy to “Be part of the solution.” To our Black and brown youth, our first desire is your safety and to let you know you are valued. This too we hold dear for all communities of color. Yet, desires without actions are delusions. We must also move beyond rhetoric and engage the tools of professional educators. This we must and will continue to do as researchers, practitioners, and advocates focusing on educational equity.

VCU School of Education Statement on addressing systemic racism

This article originally appeared on the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University website and is reprinted with permission.

Andrew DaireThe VCU School of Education wishes to express our solidarity with the recent anti-racist protests and efforts to eradicate structural and systemic racism that began after the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers. His murder is not just a recent upsetting event, as so many other incidents come to mind: Amy Cooper in New York calling the police with false allegations regarding a black man; Ahmad Aubrey who was shot to death by Gregory and Travis McMichael; Breonna Taylor who was killed by police raiding her home; Eric Garner, and on and on and on. These incidents, and many more, are part of a pattern of ongoing, systemic, racist behavior against black people in this country since the beginning of slavery. Additionally, efforts to eradicate structural and systemic racism must continue. The grief that people of color are experiencing goes well beyond these recent events but is historical grief, exacerbated by these events.

We will support this movement with not just words, but actions.

Schools Struggle to Reopen During Pandemic: Will Congress Help?

Law and Education ConceptThis blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Police Reform in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death: Is it Coming?  How Will it Affect Schools?

The purview of state and local government police reform is rapidly moving into the realm of the federal government. House Democrats have acted quickly, introducing a sweeping bill, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 with 200 sponsors. Republicans in both the House and Senate are feeling the pressure and discussions are underway, albeit for a far more limited approach. The White House is sending mixed messages, on the one hand calling for reform and on the other, calling for law and order. 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is taking the lead for Republicans in the Senate and has been in conversation with the White House. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a top Trump ally in the House, said he will release his own plan shortly. Senate proposals appear to feature the improvement of federal data collection on the use of force and no-knock warrants as well as police training. White House spokespersons said that ending qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits, was a nonstarter.

Member Update: Engage in Courageous Action

Lynn M. Gangone

We are indeed living in profound times. Educators face extraordinary challenges navigating not only the global health crisis, but also the racial and systemic injustices occurring within our country. AACTE and its Board of Directors are taking bold actions to augment our leading role during this time of change. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.

Educators must remain committed to teaching and modeling social responsibility now more than ever before. Stay connected with AACTE for the latest resources, tools, and information to address the issues facing our profession today. Visit aacte.org to access these benefits and renew your AACTE membership.

How Will Each of Us Contribute to Racial Justice and Educational Equity Now?

Holding hands up in the sky

This article originally appeared on the Learning Policy Institute Blog and is reprinted with permission.

The protests now enveloping our nation are, in one sense, long overdue. The recent police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade are not isolated incidents: Every year in the United States, more than 1,000 civilians are killed by police, and Black people are disproportionately harmed. These murders and the lack of justice that has routinely accompanied them are, in turn, part of a pattern of institutionalized racism that limits the opportunities of African Americans and other people of color in every aspect of society: employment, housing, health care, and, yes, education.

Keeping an Eye on COVID-19 Relief, the Education Workforce

Financial aid concept, Life buoy lifebelt with money bagThis blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Educators Step Up for Racial Justice

Educators are responding to the killing of George Floyd and the racism it highlights by stepping up with a variety of initiatives and a renewed sense of urgency. Both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Public Schools have cut their ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is urging school leaders to address racial disparities in discipline policies and the use of resource officers in response to the George Floyd killing and subsequent events. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 400 other organizations, including both teachers’ unions, issued a letter calling on Congress to pass police reform legislation. They urge changes in areas including the use of force, policy accountability, racial profiling, militarization, data collection, and training.

AACTE Board of Directors Calls Educators to Courageous Action on Race Matters in America

On behalf of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Board of Directors, Chair Ann Larson issued the following statement today on race matters in America:

“AACTE leaders are compelled to voice our dissent of the recent, tragic events that have resulted in the horrendous murders of Black Americans. The unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others represent incendiary racism that has deep, historic roots in our society. This profound moment in time has brought despair not only to the Black American community, but also to innumerable individuals, families, and communities representing legions of cultures and ethnicities throughout the country and the world. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’

It is imperative that educators embrace their responsibility as front line workers in dismantling structural racism within the American education system. Schools play a critical role in educating students about citizenship and societal values, which have long perpetuated the cycle of racial injustice. Educators must be change agents for reversing the miseducation of white people about black and brown people, and for promoting racial equity. There is a critical need for well-prepared, culturally responsive teachers who can educate and guide learners to value the lives of all human beings and hold others accountable in practicing justice, ensuring equitable access, promoting and assuring diversity, fostering inclusive policies and practices in all aspects of our society, and offering hope and optimism to all children.

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