As the year ends, we are looking back at the many challenges and the fierce organizing — and equally fierce love — that our partners brought to meet them.
In the early days of March, educators in St. Paul were on strike: not just for better wages, but for more special education support, smaller class sizes, bilingual teachers’ aides and mental health teams in every school. In coordination with allied community groups, the four-day strike ended with wins on many of their demands. But even then, under a growing cloud of concern for the spread of COVID-19, few recognized how utterly transformed our schools and society would become in the space of a few short months.
COVID-19 was the deadly gust of wind that exposed just how rickety the social safety net is, especially in communities of color. But, as has happened in previous disasters, people stood up with masks on our faces and courage in our hearts. Countless justice organizing groups, from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles, Little Rock to Boston provided masks, food and other essentials to residents in need. All while keeping their organizing and advocacy underway.
In the wake of George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders, many of these groups escalated their efforts against the epidemic of police violence on our streets and the negative presence of police in our public schools. #PoliceFreeSchools went from a hashtag to a rallying cry for a nationwide campaign to public policy change in many cities. And that effort is growing every day.
2020 taught us all to be ambidextrous: raising a fist in protest with one hand while reaching out in aid with the other. Through Schott’s new Loving Communities Response Fund we’ve worked to support both in tandem, giving rapid response grants to organizations across 17 states and Puerto Rico. And we’ve convened advocates — safely and remotely — to share the lessons of hard-fought victories and make ambitious plans for the future.
The challenges for the education justice movement are far from over. We face 2021 with equally bold challenges: ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine is deployed to communities of color that have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic, re-opening schools safely and with the funding and wraparound supports too long denied, and holding the incoming Biden administration accountable for its pledges at the presidential candidate forum we hosted in December 2019.
We’re honored to be a part of this struggle, and glad you are, too. Together we can tackle the challenges the new year will bring.
Top 2020 Blogposts:
- Education Equity or Else: The Danger and Opportunity for Public Schools in an Era of Covid
- Do America's cities love Black people? Here’s what the data says
- Trump’s Denial of 1619 Project: Unworthy of a Democracy
- Message to Presidential Candidates: "We want sustainable community schools!"
- J4J Open Letter to President-Elect Biden
Our 2020 Webinars: