The Time for Action on Racial Equity Is Now

By Raymond Fenton
Guest Blogger

 

Across Washington state, most students have already completed little over a month of remote learning. As some adjust to this new normal and begin to settle, others are faced with adjusting to a little more than virtual classrooms and limited social interactions with peers. While we endure COVID-19, we are also witnessing, perhaps, the largest civil rights movement in America’s history.

As protests for Black lives intensify our focus on race and racism, and the pandemic increases strain on our economy and healthcare system, social inequalities across the nation could not be more visible. So where does that leave our most vulnerable in the education system?

That was the topic of Thursday’s virtual event: Racial Equity in Education, where the uniqueness, opportunity, and gravity of this pivotal moment was distinguished. “Now is the time.” That was the charge from Brooke Brown, 2021 WA state Teacher of the Year, as she addressed the audience yesterday. Read More

Podcast – 2021 Washington state Teacher of the Year Brooke Brown

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this latest episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks 2021 Washington state Teacher of the Year Brooke Brown why it is important for students to feel safe and that they belong in school, how she recommends that teachers connect with students during this time of remote learning, and what advice she has for parents during this challenging time.

 

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Watch our LEVinar with Superintendents from Across Washington state on Racial Equity and Going Back to School

As plans for the 2020-21 school year are being finalized, school districts across Washington state are focusing on racial equity while developing updated learning plans, and students, parents, and educators are trying to navigate new systems and expectations.

In this webinar, Highline Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield, Kent School District Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts, Northshore School District Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid, Bellingham Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Baker, Kennewick School District Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce, and Davenport School District Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski share how racial equity is being addressed during this historic time, describe what school will look like in their districts for the start of the 2020-21 school year, outline what kinds of support school districts in Washington need from the state as the school year gets underway, and answer questions.

Moderated by League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman.

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Watch our LEVinar with WA state Teachers of the Year on What Students Need for Going Back to School

These are unprecedented times in Washington state. School districts are finalizing plans for reopening schools, and many have chosen online and hybrid learning models. But how have the COVID-19 school closures impacted students, and how can we best support them in the fall?

In this webinar, Washington state Teachers of the Year Amy Campbell (2020), Robert Hand (2019), Mandy Manning (2018, and the 2018 National Teacher of the Year), Camille Jones (2017), and Nate Bowling (2016) share what they are hearing from students, parents, and colleagues in their community, share what students need to begin the 2020-21 school year, and answer your questions.

Moderated by League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman.

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Podcast – Fernell Miller of The Root of Us on What Students Need Now

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Fernell Miller, Founder and CEO of The Root of Us and a physical education teacher in the public school system, what she is hearing from students during this historic time, what it was like for her to navigate school as a Black student, and what she would like to see schools prioritize as the 2020-21 school year begins.

 

  • Take The Root of Us survey here.
  • Watch the student “I Can Return to School When…” video here.
  • Read our recap of the July 21, 2020 Virtual Rally for Students and Families.

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Highline Public Schools Guest Blog: Trade-offs and What ifs – Leading in the Era of COVID-19

By Dr. Susan Enfield, Superintendent, Highline School District
Guest Blogger

 

Dr. Susan Enfield

When we made the decision in Highline to close schools in March, I found myself increasingly frustrated that conversations about planning for the fall focused primarily on logistics around protective personal equipment (PPE), seating capacity on school buses, etc. I agree that safety is paramount. I was also adamant, however, that we should be focusing on how to seize this moment to effect changes in public education that so many of us have wanted to see for so long. In the ensuing weeks and months, however, I came to the realization that I was sadly deluded. The sheer magnitude of planning for hybrid and/or distance learning proved to be more detailed and complex than I would have ever imagined. The innovative, elegant solutions I thought possible were not, given the fiscal, staffing, and safety constraints by which we were bound.

In Highline, we had the benefit of working with an incredibly talented team from McKinsey thanks to our partnership with Chiefs for Change, who has also been a tremendous partner and resource for us. Even with this technical assistance and support, however, our dedicated planning teams in Highline devoted virtually every day in June and July to developing our hybrid model and contingency plans for full-time distance learning. Every decision we made along the way elicited more questions needing to be answered. In the end, to get it right, trade-offs had to be made and practicality won out over innovation. Read More

Watch our LEVinar on Fostering First Steps Toward Racial Healing

Historically, the race conversation and topic are treacherous waters to navigate and the ‘colorblind’ approach has robbed us of the framework, language, and power to effectively address and dismantle it.

In this webinar, TED speaker and Brownicity.com creator Dr. Lucretia Berry, author of What LIES Between Us: Fostering First Steps Towards Racial Healing, describes how parents and teachers can talk to their children and students about race and race-related trauma. She also answers your questions.

Moderated by League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman.

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Community Members Discuss Equity in an Online Rally for Educational Justice

By Andre Lawes Menchavez, Engagement Intern

 

Student speaker Amanda Chamba of the Bellevue College Black Student Union

As the national movement continues for Black lives, it proceeds to expose various facets of society that are impacted by the lack of equity for marginalized communities.

One area, in particular, is education.

The intersection of equity and education has become more evident in the recent climate of our world.

Black folx dying at the hands of the police intersect with the conversation on school resource officers (SRO’s) and the need to uphold restorative justice programs for discipline in schools. Pipelines to prison for BIPOC intersect with the conversations on diversifying the workforce in schools for more visibility of BIPOC teachers, counselors, and mentors for students. As COVID-19 ravages throughout the country and eliminates access, it intersects with the conversations on alleviating these same issues for students who are low-income and/or live with special needs.

Back to School: An Equity Centered Conversation with Parents, Providers, Teachers, Educators, and Students was a virtual event aimed to tackle these equity issues in education. Community members came together to discuss why and how we should use racial equity and social justice lenses to reimagine how schools can support every learner. Read More

Watch our LEVinar on Why Students Need to Go Outdoors

Overwhelming research shows health and emotional benefits to recess, exercise, and free outdoor play.

In this webinar, Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington, Bookie Gates, Servant Leader, Baseball Beyond Borders/Gates Ventures Group, Seattle Public Schools parent Linnea Westerlind, author of Discovering Seattle Parks: A Local’s Guide, and KUOW Education Reporter Ann Dornfeld discuss the mental health benefits of recess and PE programs in schools, outline what we need now to support school districts in Washington state to incorporate exercise programs into curriculum during this period of distance or hybrid learning, and answer your questions.

Moderated by League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman.

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Podcast – Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and CBS News correspondent, how we can be anti-racist ourselves, how, in Dr. Kendi’s words, he evolved from internalizing racist thoughts to being an anti-racist, and what we can do to create a more equitable, anti-racist society.

 

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