The Journey for Justice Alliance, a Schott grantee partner and national network of community-based organizations in 31 cities, released a new report, Failing Brown v. Board, last week. The report illuminates just how inequitable public education remains today, largely across racial lines. Through examining course offerings at high schools in 12 cities (and one elementary school in Chicago), this report, which is backed by substantial research, shows how black and brown students are denied “access to inspiration” in comparison with their white, more affluent peers. Failing Brown v. Board was released on the first day of the new Poor People’s Campaign.
Each of us can think of an educator who made a positive impact in our lives, picked us up when we were down, or helped kindle a lifelong curiosity and love of learning. Teacher Appreciation Week is usually a time to simply reflect on the importance of educators in society and to thank them for the incredibly important work they do.
When parents, youth, community members and educators join together, they can move mountains.
From West Virginia to Oklahoma and a growing list of states across the country, educators are making demands that go far beyond fair wages and benefits: they are advocating for newer textbooks, smaller class sizes and pushing back against the austerity measures and harmful policies that undermine student-centered learning environments. Local communities are locking arms with educators and joining those efforts.
For most people, medicine is something used to treat or cure a disease, often a man-made drug, or sometimes an herb. Sometimes it refers to the whole field: hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, and so on. In Native Americans traditions, however, medicine is a way of achieving balance. An Indigenous medicine person doesn’t just heal illnesses — he or she can restore harmony or establish a state of being, like peacefulness. Medicine people live and practice among the people; access to them is constant and unrestricted. And the practice of medicine is not just limited to the hands of medicine people: everyone is welcome to participate. Engaging with medicine is a part of the experience of daily life. Traditionally, Indigenous people don’t wait to be out of balance before they turn to medicine.
One of the most inspiring sights of the historic West Virginia teacher strike was seeing educators taking the time to assemble bags of food to deliver to students while schools were closed. In a state in which one in four children is in poverty, the food drive helped struggling families while the strike was ongoing — but it was also an indicator of the kind of labor-community cooperation and solidarity that can achieve important victories, even in the face of daunting political odds.
Today there are an estimated 30,000 officers now in schools, up from roughly 100 in the 1970s. Although the stated purpose of these officers is to maintain a sense of safety, a very troubling consequence is greater arrest rates and referrals for minor disruptive behaviors — with especially harsh results for girls of color.
Every day, Native youth and communities demonstrate the ability to thrive and persevere despite historical, structural and institutional inequities. Native youth have shown that they are invested in a better future – not just for Native people, but for all Americans. By working in partnership, funders believe that we will see Native communities make great strides in healing, restoration, and advancement of our greatest resource – our youth.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education, in partnership with Native Americans in Philanthropy, with support from Nike N7, recently released a set of recommendations for helping Native youth live healthy lives. These recommendations came directly from Native American leaders who hold expertise across health, physical fitness, education and youth development sectors. The report, Original Instructions, outlines both challenges and opportunities to philanthropy. It’s a first step towards using our resources to recognize and learn from the resilient Native youth.
Just yesterday, Schott grantee partner Journey for Justice Alliance released a compelling short documentary chronicling the fight against education reform in the age of Trump and DeVos. Beyond the rhetoric coming from DC, for years Journey for Justice has been raising the voices of those most impacted by budget cuts and privatization. Following J4J's trip from Detroit to Washington, D.C. to oppose Betsy DeVos' appointment as Education Secretary in early 2017, this film not only shows the profound hurt that these policy changes cause, but the inspiring organizing done to resist them.
Despite the contrived false narrative of failing students and schools, the nation’s public school students are once again leading the nation to a more just society and a stronger democracy. During the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s it was public school students walking out of schools, sitting at lunch counters, and marching on Washington that shaped the civil rights movement.
The tragic Parkland school shooting has sharpened the public’s attention to school safety. Despite the temptation during moments of urgency, policymakers should not impose knee-jerk reforms that could make the problem worse: we all should listen to the students who have been dealing with a school safety crisis for years and let them lead.
Please join the Schott Foundation and Communities for Just Schools Fund for a series of three webinars that take a holistic approach to the problems of classroom safety, policing, and the school-to-prison pipeline — and how they interact with larger systemic inequities surrounding race, gender, sexuality and class. Every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment: the presenters below will show us how we can get there. And join the conversation on Twitter with #GrassrootsEd!
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