As a provider of educational enrichment opportunities for schools and families, we have an inherent concern for all children in the communities we reach, and urgently understand the importance of equity, opportunity and justice for all families.
We are devastated by the horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, that have brought further injustice and pain to our communities, which are already suffering.
We value the futures of Black children and Black families and stand in solidarity with families, students and educators in our school communities and beyond, who work for justice, empathy and affirmation of Black lives.
Organizing for racial justice in education is big, important work, but it's an effort all elementary school parents can share in and contribute to today!
There are many ways to take action to reform inequities and racist practices at school. Whether you have a few minutes to sign a petition or read a book with your child, or want to get involved with an organization living this important work on the ground, here are Four Actions You Can Today to Start Conversations About Race & Inequity at School:
1. Take it to the school leadership & become a leader yourself
Learn about these organizations now and over the summer and be ready to organize support when school starts again, whether that is online or in-person.
If there is not another parent or family available to lead, step up and be the first one!
Encourage your PTA to fund an anti-racism resource library for school teachers and families. Ibram X. Kendi has some foundational suggestions here.
For a welcome-back-to-school gift for teachers in addition to the usual donuts and coffee, PTAs can purchase books for each teacher to keep, like these:
2. Shine a light on the need for Black teachers
One way that young students of color can see their future opportunities illuminated, is to achieve racial congruence among students, administrators and teachers in our schools. While students of color make up over 50% of the K-12 population, Black male teachers represent less than 2% of the teacher workforce.
Email your school principal and district superintendent and hold them accountable to make explicit their plans to increase the hiring and retention of Black teachers. Share this powerful graphic that illustrates how the loss of Black teachers is linked to adverse student outcomes.
If you don't hear back, write again and encourage other school families to do the same.
3. Support mental health resources and oppose criminalization at school
"The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades, and the figures on arrests and referrals to law enforcement show disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino students. This is just one aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline, where some students are denied an opportunity to succeed, and instead are pushed out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice system."
You can take action in favor of replacing law enforcement with mental health resources and training at school whether your school has a police presence or not.
Share the Dignity in Schools Resource Guide with your PTA, school principal and district superintendent and let them know your family wants alternative staffing to police at school.
4. Read with your elementary schoolers
The right time to talk to our children about race, racial bias and injustice is all the time, any time and as early as possible. We can start right now by reading cross-culturally and reading diverse, inclusive picture books together.
We're looking for books that bring Black heroes and characters to life by celebrating both their big and everyday achievements. Here are a few lists that we refer to (and please shop at local or online Black owned bookstores to find these books):
NY Times: BOOKS TO HELP YOU EXPLAIN RACE & PROTEST TO YOUR KIDS
All of our children deserve to be safe, included and have access to a high quality education. Addressing structural racism starts with each of us.
We're committed to continuing this conversation and want to learn how you're bringing change to your school. Please let us know. We'll share your ideas for action with our community on Facebook.