By Bruce Jackson, SEA Center for Racial Equity Coach
Educators from around the country have been busy since the last Black Lives Matter at Schools week:
We have taken our demands to our school boards on a national scale .
We have petitioned our state legislators for action on our four demands.
We have emboldened our Unions across the countries to fight for Educational Justice, and taken dramatic action on the four demands of Black Lives Matter at School. We have taken our demands from the rhetoric stage to the action stage.
On the Mandate Ethnic Studies Demand, We have created an Ethnic Studies curriculum, created replacement text lists for the CCC and other harmfully exclusive, historically inaccurate, teaching resources, we have fought for the implementation of Ethnic Studies before our state government and won a mandate on 7-12 curriculum. We are currently fighting for K-6 with State Senator Bob Hasagawa leading our efforts on that front. We have fought before the WEA and NEA to create plans of actions that will bring Ethnic Studies into the mainstream
On the Hire More Teachers Of Color Demand, we passed I-200, and I-1000 through the legislature, and nearly passed Referendum 88 through Washington State voters. We are creating programs that will put graduating students of color on the career path to education.
On the End Zero Tolerance Discipline Demand . We have helped to create Restorative Practices that are starting to show results. Suspensions are down 7.5% and as we continue to build communities in our schools those numbers are sure to continue to decline.
On the Counselors Not Cops Demand , we fought, through our union, to increase counselor numbers district wide. We have called attention on a national level to the increase in law enforcement and the reduction of counselors in schools. We have work to do, but providing sound mental health care to our students is a battle the forces of opposition do not want to fight in the light of day.
We still have much to do:
We have to fully staff our Ethnic Studies Department. We cannot rest this work on the shoulders of one underfunded position. We have to change the climate of consciousness of the students in Seattle Public Schools then take that fight into the country as a whole. We have to create a nationally accessible website that houses curriculum and encommpasses the struggle of all people of color in this country.
We have to hire staff of color that reflects the increasing number of students of color in our schools. If students don’t see themselves in the people who educate them, it’s easy to believe that their best interests are not being attended too, and the current master curriculum proves that is true
We have to end Zero Tolerance Discipline and start building communities that are safe and welcoming for all people in this nation. There should be no such thing as a School to Prison Pipeline. Schools should open doors to the greater society
We have to strengthen our Teacher’s Unions and through education, break down those institutions that are far too satisfied with the gradual destruction of public schools. This year we had to fight to keep Librarians in school. We had to fight to keep Nurses in schools. We had to fight to keep counselors in school, and keep Police off the payroll. While every year we are forced to make decisions on which educators we’ll have to cut. What personal convenience educators will have to sacrifice to get pencils in their classes. We need to secure the future of humanity. That is the work of parents and educators, not businessmen and bureaucrats
We are here to say that Black Lives Matter at School because there is far too little in our K-12 system that confirms that fact.