This week is Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools.
I advise sixth graders, and with my fellow sixth grade advisors, we decided to devote the whole month to Black Lives Matter in honor of Black History Month. The students in my advisory talked a lot about privilege and how there needs to be more dialogue around who has it, and also “real history.”
I have been reflecting a lot since that conversation on Monday and thinking of how as their advisor I can facilitate a conversation where my advisees can continue to speak their truth, and also learn the “real history.” These resources have helped me as I think about this:
- Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
- How Culturally Responsive Lessons Teach Critical Thinking
- History Moves with Us
- The Local Black History Hidden in Philadelphia’s School Names
- Why is Black History Month in February? How do you celebrate? Everything you need to know.
- Black History Month: Teaching the Complete History
- 10 Inventions That Would Not Exist Without Black Women
- Black History Month Choice Board
I have also been thinking about how COVID-19 is not the only pandemic we are experiencing. The definition of pandemic in Merriam-Webster is: “occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population.”
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Using this definition, I believe the other pandemic is the inequity in our systems. BIPOC are experiencing the inequity of these systems that have been built on oppression.
There are recent local examples that clearly display this inequity:
- Philadelphia’s vaccine distribution plan: Did the City use it’s own RFP regulations to determine that Philly Fighting COVID was better equipped to distribute vaccines than the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC)? Why was Philly Fighting COVID given “inside information” by high level city officials? It is hard not to think that bias played a role in this debacle.
- The School District of Philadelphia’s (SDP) Reopening Plans: How is the voice of the SDP’s stakeholders being factored into decisions about in-person learning? The SDP’s Board of Education’s Public Engagement Procedure Document states: “Board Members shall engage in effective internal and external communications with key stakeholder groups, constituents, and members of the larger school community.” Is this engagement occurring when there is now a limit of 30 speakers (10 student speakers) at board meetings? How is the advice of experts informing the SDP’s ventilation efforts and its Reopening Readiness Dashboard?
As a mother and an educator, I will continue to empower my son and my students (our future) and continue to fight for a world of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
I challenge others to join me in this fight as without this collective effort, we cannot dismantle the inequity in our systems.
If you have ideas about issues, policies, and/or perspectives that I should highlight in this column, please complete this submission form. My column focus areas will prioritize submission ideas. The dialogue can be continued at EdSpace.-30-
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