We are appalled at recent neo-Nazi activism and the abject failures of people in power to condemn it. But as schools begin this year I have been reflecting on why the groundswells of disgust among those committed to issues of social justice are often reactive.
Our public education system does not serve our students of color. Segregated schools continue to disproportionately harm Black and Latino students and schools are becoming more and more segregated by race and socio-economic status every day, especially in states like California. This is a persistent issue of racism, inequity and social injustice. Where is our protest of this?
School segregation is just one of many examples of the institutionalized and long-standing racism that is sewn into the fabric of our society. This will persist until acknowledged more universally and unwoven. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that “what will be remembered is not the words of our enemies, but the silences of our friends.” When we choose to protest white supremacy, we must also question why we support and send our children to segregated schools. We must recognize that for many of us it is a privilege to be able to protest racism, prejudice, injustice, and hatred when it is convenient or safe. It is not ethical, however, to accept some parts of a racist society and not others.
At Trellis Education we believe the opportunity to learn STEM is a civil right, and thus that great STEM teaching is an act of social justice. Our community’s work is a daily protest of the inequitable access of students of color to effective, resilient teachers with whom they identify and trust. My friends, let us not be silent. Join us in this daily protest.
To transforming teaching together,
A Few Starting Places:
- Worlds Apart: Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City (Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2016)
- Longitudinal research on school SES and student achievement (Poverty & Race Research Action Council)
- Benefits of Socioeconomically and Racially Integrated Schools and Classrooms (The Century Foundation, 2016)
- "Dear Colleague" Letter: Resource Compatibility & Equal Access (U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 2014)
Change the dialogue: Take the Two Tour Pledge