Dear RBT Community,
The forces for social justice swell to reform police culture as I write; but can those forces gain momentum to address inequality in health care, criminal justice, local funding, environmental safety, mortgage access, and most particularly how we act for equity within schools? Covid-19 laid these inequalities bare, and George Floyd’s murder gave a personal face to the rage and grief of our oppressed peoples. And it gave many comfortable white people a wake up call that won’t quit ringing. So what now?
It has been heartening to receive email messages from so many educational organizations that stand with the Floyd family to grieve and to end abuses in policing where they occur and recur. So many educational organizations are declaring they stand with those who seek to end racial injustice. Some of these stances also cite the need for non-violence and care for those who suffer and for those in need.
Each of us as individuals will decide how much our personal civic participation will be influenced toward advocacy and activism. But what about our actions as members of educational organizations? Actions speak louder than words.
It is our view that education is the most durable and deeply effective force for collapsing income inequality, combatting racism, and building the social contract to make decisions for the common good. Despite poverty and unequal opportunity for children of color, educators can organize allies in their local communities and be the driving force for social justice in those communities.
Influential and well-intentioned voices like Nick Hanauer have shifted the deployment of their resources away from improving education over to reducing poverty. Hanauer writes that there is no hope for education’s mission of raising opportunity as long as the root problem of income equality persists. We agree the toxic effects of poverty, but it is not the place to start. The path to income fairness must go through the land of equity in education for all the children. They deserve a fair chance at a good life, and it has to start with us in education.
We at RBT can’t pat ourselves on the back just because we have a module on Cultural Proficiency in all our mainline courses. We have to do more. Here's how we'll start:
- We will broaden the range of professional learning offerings connected to culturally relevant lesson design.
- We will expand our modules and consulting on High Expectations Teaching to get students to believe in themselves.
- We will integrate our 40-year intellectual base of knowledge about good teaching with culturally proficient instruction.
- And we will work with you to bring your school board along with institutionalizing these commitments to equity and repeating budgets that support them.
These are our “promises to keep. And we have miles to go before we sleep."
- Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”