As educators, and also as community members, parents, and learners, the undersigned 2018 Teachers of the Year, rise in solidarity with Black Lives Matter against racism and hate.
We mourn with our students and our colleagues and condemn the violence perpetrated against Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color (BIPOC) in our communities, which has led to the murders of so many—Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are just three of the names brought to our collective awareness in recent months, but they are only three among at least 18 others who have been murdered since then.
Equally important and worthy of remembering are Tony Dade, Rayshard Brooks, David McAtee, Nina Pop, James Scurlock, Chris Beaty, Dorian Murrell, David Dorn, Italia Kelly, Calvin L. Horton, Jr., Maurice Gordon, Robert Fuller, Dominique Rem’mie Fells, Riah Milton, Malcolm Harsch, Oluwatoyin Salau, Na’kiah Crawford, and the others whose names we may never know.
We reject the systems of oppression, fueled by bigotry, and resulting in injustice, which have perpetuated for generations and which led to the marginalization and death of so many people in these communities. We reject the notion that this is a political issue. This is a human issue, and as such, central to our profession and our shared humanity.
As educators, we love and serve each student with whom we are entrusted and direct resources and efforts to each based on their needs. Right now, the needs of our Black community members are paramount. The added impact of COVID-19 on communities of color compounded with half a millennia of spirit murdering Black community members demands that we affirm and echo the calls for systemic change.
Black Lives Matter. Thus, Black Lives Matter at school. Because of this resolve, we must ensure schools are a place of liberation. We demand the following:
- End the School-to-Prison Pipeline: We move to dismantle unjust disciplinary practices borne of bias and zero-tolerance policies that rob students of their right to an education. Disproportionate suspensions of Black students over their White peers is a national epidemic. Our governing bodies and school boards must create policies for restorative, culturally responsive and trauma-sensitive practices and provide resources for the social and emotional health of students.
- Equitable Funding and Resource Allocation: We move to reject the collective acceptance that students of color are less likely to have access to necessary materials, programs, counselors, nurses, and career training in schools. This means that we must unequivocally fund public education and ensure allocations reflect the needs of under-resourced Black communities.
- Responsive Curriculum and Systems of Evaluation: We move that each learner deserves pathways for success and personal safety in school. Therefore, we must adopt and implement inclusive curriculums that reflect multiple voices and perspectives, particularly those BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities who have historically been left out of the curriculum. Anti-racist and anti-bias training must be prioritized for all educators. In addition, we must carefully evaluate how assessment metrics preserve White supremacy and White supremacist power structures that further marginalize communities serving predominantly Black student populations.
- Recruit and Retain Educators of Color: We move to institute supported teacher pipelines to recruit, retain and support Black educators. Representation matters for our students, and we need to lift up BIPOC voices as leaders in the profession.
It is time to “show up” to support one another. Through reflection, research, and action, we are renewed in our work to remove systems of oppression and pursue justice. It is our moral obligation and our professional charge.
While these conversations may be uncomfortable, we owe it to our students to engage in them. Without these conversations and intentional action to disrupt systems of oppression, we continue to be complicit in the perpetuation of violence and systemic racism.
We invite educators, parents and community members to rise in solidarity. To listen, learn and to dismantle a system fraught with White supremacy, so that we may build a system that will honor, celebrate, support and uplift each and every student we serve. Let us turn our anger and our sadness into action.
With hope, and in solidarity,
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