Educators, parents, administrators, central employees, community members, and students come together to discuss equity issues.
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Using a key phrase from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, Letter from Birmingham Jail”, the Why We Can’t Wait: Critical and Courageous Conversations series is a forum open to anyone interested in having conversations around race, class and gender. Educators, parents, administrators, central employees, community members, and students come together to discuss relevant and important trends, issues, and practices affecting students and educators with a focus on educational equity.
Critical and Courageous Conversations
The series of community forums, Why We Can’t Wait: Critical and Courageous Conversations, provides a safe space and intentional opportunities to come together, unpack thoughts, express feelings, and ask questions centered around equity and equality.
The forums feature a variety of presentations including notable local and national speakers from various organizations, viewing of relevant films and videos, and interactive and engaging discussions designed so participants can share, network, and learn with and from fellow attendees.
Past topics, presenters, and programs have included:
After the Election… Now What?
As educators and people who are connected to schools and young people, after a heated and divisive presidential election, it was important to find time to come together. We needed time to unpack our thoughts, express our feelings and ask questions. We also needed to think about how best to support our young people who were asking questions and may not know how to handle the feelings that they are having.
Race and Its Impact on Education
In partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, participants came together to discuss the history of public school education. To understand the recent focus on equity and access, we first need to understand the history of education in America and the role that race plays on educational philosophies, policies and practices. Using primary sources, films, and other resources, this session explored how Americans defined citizenship and membership in the early part of the 20th century with a focus on the Eugenics movement and the way American education, both past and present, has been impacted by these ideas. Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation for this session.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Intergenerational Day of Reflection and Service
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?” To commemorate Dr. King’s birthday, ESI partnered with Goddard Riverside Community Center to create an intergenerational space where participants could reflect on the past, specifically the civil rights era and situate the movement in the present as they look to the future.
What is Implicit and Racial Bias?
If you speak to anyone who is in the education profession he or she is likely to say that “all children can learn” and that “all children can succeed”. Every day teachers spend their time working, with best intentions, to make that a reality. While “good intentions” are honorable, the research shows us that intentions are not good enough since our actions oftentimes do not reconcile with the best of intentions. This is why we all must be aware of the concept of implicit bias; the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions unconsciously. During this session, ESI partnered with the Perception Institute to lead an interactive and engaging discussion around the impact that implicit biases have on the way in which we see the world.
Educators, Students and Parents as Organizers and Change Agents for Social Justice
This session focused on how schools, educators, administrators, students, central employees, and parents and family can organize and engage in social action using a social justice and equity lens. Participants had the opportunity to hear from and network with individual experts and organizations in the fields of community advocacy, education, policy, and activism.
Factors That Impede Student Identity Development
The community scrutinizes how society, politics, and poverty intersect and impact and oppress the experiences and identities of student members of marginalized groups.
Identity Development: How Race Shapes and Informs Culture
In this culminating session, participants reflect on their own roles in perpetuating racist ideologies as well as ways to move forward to help create experiences based in positive racial and intellectual identity development for marginalized students.
Panelists and participating organizations included:
- Debbie Almontaser, Board President, Muslim Community Network
- Zakiya Ansari, Advocacy Director, New York State Alliance for Quality Education
- Samuel Sinyangwe, Policy Analyst, Data Scientist and Activist
- Jose Vilson, Educator, Author and Activist
- Facing History and Ourselves
- Educational Video Center
- Muslim Community Network
- Urban Word NYC
- Center for Strategic Solutions (CSS)
- Youth Communication
- Culturally Responsive Educators of the African Diaspora (CREAD)