At his keynote address at CUBE’s annual conference in September, award-winning author and expert on social-emotional learning Mawi Asgedom told the audience about a turbo button on a game controller, which gives gamers extra power. Humans have turbo buttons, too, he said. It’s the ability to concentrate on what we’re able to control, rather than waste energy on what we are not able to control.
Figuring out what we can control is not as easy as it sounds. This summer, after the death of George Floyd, NSBA staff and leadership decided to put together an initiative that would create and disseminate the tools needed to face and dismantle racism in our schools. The initiative is called Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE).
DIRE “acknowledges that institutional, structural, and systemic racism has been engrained in the history of America and throughout its public education system. It is dedicated to understanding and recognizing the root causes of barriers to equitable educational outcomes for each child,” according to NSBA’s statement announcing the initiative.
“The nation’s school boards are uniquely positioned to accomplish this task. School boards set goals, approve policies, adopt curriculum, set budgets, and oversee administrative aspects for their local schools. They also serve as a direct line of communication from the community to the school. School boards are responsible for fulfilling the promise of public education.”
Information is an important part of making changes. ASBJ is launching a series on institutional racism in schools. This issue features the first article, “The Past Is Our Present,” by contributing editor Glenn Cook. As districts are renaming school buildings and cities and counties are removing statues of Confederate generals and others, school leaders are changing the history curriculum. A curriculum that reflects the achievements of people of color and includes an honest look at America’s history, “warts and all,” can be a powerful tool in eradicating racism in our schools and society.
My most ardent wish is that this article and the others that follow will make school leaders think and act. Our children and our society cannot wait any longer.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Until the next issue...