So our elementary school had a Racial Equity Team this year, with the goal of basically undoing racism. Every elementary school should have one. All the rest of the schools, too. But elementary school is such a key time in children’s development. If we don’t teach them about identifying and countering racism, they’re still going to learn about racism–but from all the wrong places, and without a framework to understand it.
Our group was a mixture of teachers and parents working collaboratively. I think this is rare in Seattle Public Schools, but it should be the goal. Teachers have a window on what really goes on at school, and parents have a window on how racism affects our own children. We have a deep incentive to get past the “all talk and no action” phenomenon that so often afflicts small groups.
What did we do? To make a long story short, we did some important work and we left some necessary work undone and we’re all emotionally drained.
The school district provided resources and support for our team. That’s appreciated but I would also definitely say it’s not enough. The work of undoing racism is hard in many ways–and most of us lack the required expertise. We should have had a dedicated and competent facilitator, outside the group, to help us through the rough patches.
That’s readily available, but expensive. K-12 education is not exactly rolling in the dough. In fact, as I’ve said many times on this blog, Washington State is failing in its constitutional mandate to fully fund education. Our legislature is in contempt of court for not doing it. It’s supposed to be fixed by 2018, but I’m not at all sure the Washington State Supreme Court has the guts to do what needs to be done to make it happen.
Our teachers are begging for pencils, folks.
So our schools are having a financial crisis, and we’re also having a racism crisis, and we need some outside help. Who? What? When? Where? How? I don’t know.
I do know we will keep on going, with whatever tools we have.
That’s all for now . . . stay tuned for more posts later.
Note: This post is part of a series, beginning with “Six Months on a Racial Equity Team.”