The late James Baldwin once said that society is not free if the teacher is not free to teach. And that statement is even more true today, more than ever. Today, there are more job possibilities for teachers than ever before. Thanks to the availability of online resources like Khan Academy, teachers are often able to teach on their own time at their own pace.
Teachers shouldn’t teach in a way that doesn’t conform to their own ideas of education. Teachers shouldn’t be censored, nor should they be compelled to teach a curriculum that they believe is inferior.
You see it everywhere. You can see it at school. You can see it at work. The teacher who has no freedom to teach is not a teacher, and we should think of ourselves as such ourselves. Freedom is a fundamental part of what it means to be a teacher and a leader. As a leader, your ability to make a great impact on your students and your organization is essentially limited by your ability to help them learn.
“A teacher who is not free to teach is not a teacher,” said the great James Baldwin. As many of you are aware, there is a lot of nonsense going on in our educational system that needs our urgent and undivided attention. We must keep our eyes and ears alert for the ongoing censorship and policing of critical teacher pedagogy, antiracist curriculum, and liberatory research throughout the country and beyond.
According to a recent Chalkbeat story, 28 states have proposed or passed legislation to limit the teaching of racism, prejudice, and the historical contributions of particular racial and ethnic groups in K-12 schools. On the other hand, 15 states are preparing legislation to allow ethnic studies programs to be implemented and to expand on the teaching of racism, prejudice, and other anti-racist subjects.
So, how does this affect us? We’ve arrived at a crossroads in our careers as educators, and we need to rethink everything, from the discriminatory rules and protocols that govern our individual school communities to our own teaching methods. How we, as a teaching community, react to what’s going on will have a big impact on how education looks and sounds in the future.
Anti-racist activity necessitates openness and transparency regarding what is going on in the world around us, as well as our personal participation in it.
- How can we prepare our kids to be the next generation of community organizers, civil rights activists, and social justice advocates if we don’t provide them the tools they need to succeed?
- How can we lead the path for our kids if we don’t know where we’re going?
Recognizing that many teachers are trying to find answers to these concerns, I’d like to offer a few teacher-led grassroots anti-racist activities and projects that are rapidly gaining traction on social media and provide excellent chances for you to become involved:
Paige Shoemaker DeMio, a high school social studies teacher who was dissatisfied with Ohio’s K-12 history curriculum, created PUUSH, which stands for The People’s Unfiltered United States History. The necessity for an inclusive and comprehensive curricular approach for secondary social studies education that offers a historically correct perspective to US history prompted the creation of PUUSH. You may go through their model curriculum, learning standards, and digital unit plans on their website. With Ohio state Representative Don Jones introducing a House bill to limit the teaching of white privilege, institutionalized racism, and critical race theory in K-12 schools, the PUUSH team is petitioning the state board of education to adopt their curriculum as the state’s model curriculum for high school US history. Learn more about this curriculum and how you can become involved with PUUSH’s goal by visiting their website or contacting them at [email protected]
PUBLISHING BY ESTE
ESTE (Empowering Students Through Education) Publishing, which provides consulting services and curricular materials focused on racial equity, social justice, and decolonized historical truth, was established by middle school social studies and ethnic studies teacher Lucia Reyes a few years ago. Lucia has devoted her 20 years in education to fighting for the most disadvantaged and overlooked adolescents in Los Angeles County to have the same educational access, privileges, and opportunities as other children.
Her Instagram feed has thought-provoking quotations, conversation questions, and colorful visuals that emphasize the need of antiracist solidarity and the deconstruction of white supremacist culture in our schools. If you’d like to offer feedback, provide new ideas for future resources, or be a thought partner with Lucia, you can reach out to her on Instagram or contact her directly at [email protected] You can also help Lucia finance the development of her curricular materials by making a contribution via Venmo or Paypal.
ACTION NETWORK TO TEACH THE TRUTH
Torie Anderson-Lloyd, the creator of Teaching It Trill, is the brains behind this initiative. Torie is an ELA educator, author, writer, and activist who is dedicated to not just disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, but also dismantling systematic racism in our educational system. She is a proud resident of Detroit. As a result of the anti-CRT assaults, she decided to take action and establish the Teach the Truth Action Network.
Torie is assembling a national team of classroom teachers, academic researchers, and antiracist experts to work on drafting a federal policy that will counter the political onslaught of critical race theory by advocating for antiracist, culturally relevant, and abolitionist pedagogy in K-12 classrooms across the country. I’d also want to point out that Torie is a full-time school teacher who is devoting her spare time to this massive undertaking! If you’re interested in joining the network, please fill out the sign-up form or email her directly at [email protected] Drafting a federal educational policy from scratch is difficult and requires the combined power of many great educational minds — so if you’re interested in joining the network, please fill out the sign-up form or email her directly at [email protected]
Finally, as educators, this school year will be about regaining our instructional autonomy and intellectual independence. This year, we will focus on teaching the truth and working hard to provide learning opportunities that are genuinely connected to the lives of our BIPOC kids. As a result, this school year will be everything but easy!
Depending on which state you teach in and where you teach, you’ll almost certainly find yourself at odds with your principal and dealing with ignorant parents who reject critical race theory and anything remotely connected to anti-racist education. For speaking out against the penalties and teaching THE TRUTH, you may be penalized several times during the school year. You may get a reprimand at school. You could even lose your job.
This school year, more than any other, will be a litmus test for our professional ethics. For many of us, teaching is our livelihood and main source of income, therefore I understand and sympathize with those of you who fall into this category. Our decent conscience, on the other hand, will not let this anti-CRT propaganda to continue. This is the year in which we will confront our defining moment. This must be the year in which we, as a teaching community, commit to moving from inactivity to action!
When we teach we hope that we are inspiring and engaging students to think and to learn. One of the greatest challenges we face in our classrooms is that we often feel we can’t teach because we don’t know how. And so we resign ourselves to the fact that we can’t be teachers. But there is a simple, and radical, solution. It is to create the conditions in which we can teach. And that requires us to be free to teach.. Read more about a talk to teachers james baldwin tone and let us know what you think.
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