BLM in Schools




BRAINWASHED: How Black Lives Matter Hijacked Our Schools


BLM 2020 Curriculum Resource Guide


BLM 2020 at School Year of Purpose

YEAR OF PURPOSE INTRODUCTION
In addition to the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (that is organized during the first week of February every year), educators, students, parents, and antiracist organizers, and education advocates, are encouraged to participate in the newly launched “Year of Purpose”: Ongoing activations and reflection throughout the school year to uplift Black students and undo institutional racism (see the list of days of action and reflection questions below).

We are calling on all educators, students, parents, antiracist organizers, and education advocates to participate in the Black Lives Matter at School “Year of Purpose,” sign this petition, and fill out this form to let us know about your commitment.  

THE COMMITMENT 
In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and others named and unnamed, a great Uprising for Black Lives has swept the nation and the world, inciting new urgency and radical possibilities for advancing abolitionist practice and uprooting institutional racism–in our schools and in our boarder society.

The uprising has helped create a national discussion about what public safety could be. For too long public safety has been defined as spending more money on the legal punishment system and funding for more police in schools and communities.

We believe it is vital to redefine public safety in terms of the holistic social and emotional wellbeing of students and educators. During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, public safety has to also mean not opening schools until the science supports it can be done safely, COVID-19 testing at schools and in communities is widely available, personal protective equipment is funded and supplied for educators and students, schools are provided functioning ventilation systems, and so much more. 

The Uprising for Black lives has prompted the Black Lives Matter at School movement to expand its proposed activities to a “Year of Purpose,” in addition to the annual Week of Action held during the first week of February. The centerpiece of the Year of Purpose is asking educators to reflect on their own work in relationship to antiracist pedagogy and abolitionist practice, persistently challenging themselves to center Black lives in their classrooms. In addition, educators will be asked to participate in intentional days of action throughout the school year uplifting different intersectional themes vital to making Black lives matter in schools, communities, and beyond (see the days of action below).

The learning environments we aspire to create reflect a deep understanding of the experiences of Black children, families, and communities, as well as our own ongoing work of critical self-reflection and personal transformation. Are we creating humanizing communities that respond to the concerns of our students? Are we committed to leveling up our expectations for Black students? As educators, we turn inward in order to reach outward, linking our efforts to broad, integrated movements for social justice. As our ancestor, the Black lesbian warrior poet Audre Lorde, stated, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.” This means we must commit to living our principles everyday, in and out of our classrooms, within our homes, and with our communities. It is a commitment to the village.

​The excerpted questions we choose to focus upon are meant to support educators–and parents who are educating their kids at home during the pandemic–throughout the year. These questions, as well as pieces from our paragraphs above, first appeared in the book Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers (2019–2020). We invite educators and educators-in-training to meditate on the questions that follow, and—given that no such list can be comprehensive—to pose questions of their own. Only through deliberate reflection can we realign our teaching practices to meet our current challenges and invent new practices where there are none. Additional information about the Year of Purpose and opportunities to participate are available at BlackLivesMatterAtSchool.com

  1. What is our school’s relationship to Black community organizing? Do we have relationships with local movement organizers? Do they see our school as a place that believes in their mission? Do they see our school as a place to connect with local families?
  2. How are school-wide policies and practices – especially disciplinary practices – applied across categories of race? Do problematic patterns emerge when we look at how policies are applied to Black students and when we also consider the intersections of gender, sexual orientation, and (dis)ability with Blackness?
  3. How are the voices, accomplishments, and successes of Black folx uplifted in my lessons, units, and curriculum? Rather than focus on singular events or individuals, does my approach highlight the everyday actions and community organizing that will lead to change?
  4. In what ways do our practices erase the histories of our students and prevent them from bringing their whole selves into the learning environment?
  5. How do I understand the role that local/state laws and policies have on the educational experiences of my students? What is my role in working to change policies, regulations, and practices that harm Black students and families?

​ACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES

In addition to the self-reflection, we encourage educators to participate in the following days of action throughout the year. Each action is grounded in the Movement for Black Lives Principles that we adopted as well:

1) FIRST DAY: Black to School (Whatever date that is for you)
-Wear the shirt
-Review the BLM at School reflection questions and write up your anti-racist action plan for the year
-Graffiti wall: “What are we going to do differently this year to further the movement for Black lives in our school.”
-Post a video to social media
-Join Twitter chat

2) October 14th: Justice for George Day
Principle: Restorative Justice
October 14th is George Floyd’s Birthday.  Justice for George is a day to remember him and call for the defunding of the police and the redirecting of those funds towards social programs and education.

3) November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance Friday, November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance William Dorsey Swann

4) December 3: International People’s with Disabilities Day
Principle: Globalism and Collective Value
December 3 is International People’s with Disabilities Day. Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer are two disabled freedom fighters we revere, even as the disabilities they carried with them into struggle aren’t consistently lifted up as assets in their fight. To fight against societal ableism, we must celebrate our differences and understand how the lessons from Black disabled organizers teach us how to build inclusive, accessible movements.

5) Queer Organizing Behind the Scenes
Principle: Queer Affirming 
January-  During January, we find it critical to lift up Bayard Rustin, one of the principal organizers behind the March on Washington which is crowned as one of MLK’s lasting achievements. To be queer-affirming means lifting up our queer ancestors who were at the foundation of our movements throughout time. This deepens the purpose of MLK day to understand that no one person makes a movement, highlighting how MLK’s legacy encompasses the contributions of many. 

6) Unapologetically Black Day
Principle: Unapologetically Black
Audre Lorde/Toni Morrison Birthday February 18th 
7. Student Activist DayPrinciples: Loving engagement and Empathy 
March 6: Barbara Johns Black student activist day–Day to celebrate Black student activists. 

8. Revolutionary Black Arts 
Principle: Intergenerational 
April- During National Library Week, we seek to center the classic contributions of Black Writers and artists across the generations: Zora Neale Huston, Faith Ringgold, Alma Thomas, Augusta Savage, Jasmine Mans. How are the themes and radical vision that they brought to their art reflected in your classrooms and communities? How can young people extend on these legacies?

9. Black Radical Educator Day
Principle: Black Villages
May 3rd: On Septima Clark’s birthday we celebrate Black Radical educator day. 
10. #SayHerName Day Principle: Black Women
June 5, Breonna Taylor’s Birthday–Day to call for justice for Breonna and uplift the #SayHerName movement 

11. Education for Liberation Day
Principles: Black Families and Diversity
Juneteenth: Education for Liberation day–A day to celebrate the struggle that brought down slavery and reflects on what must be done to win Black liberation 

12. A Day for Self Reflection
Review all 13 PrinciplesLast day of School, Reflection Day: reflect on your year of antiracist teaching, possibly in groups.


Coming Soon BLM At School Book

After a powerful webinar that included educators from ten cities explaining the many incredible actions they took in support of the national Black Lives Matter at School week of action, Denisha Jones, contacted Jesse Hagopian to propose that they collect these stories in a book. 

Black Lives Matter at School sucinctly generalizes lessons from successful challenges to institutional racism that have been won through the BLM at School movement. This is a book that can inspire many hundreds or thousands of more educators to join the BLM at School movement.

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BLM at School 2020 Student Voter Toolkit

This work embodies the Black Lives Matter principle of Loving Engagement, in that it is the commitment to practice justice and liberation. We dedicate this collection itself to honor Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, who both taught us so deeply about challenging unjust systems.

We offer this to acknowledge and support the efforts of The Electoral Justice Project (EJP). EJP is a project of the Movement4BlackLives which seeks to continue a long legacy of social movements fighting for the advancement of the rights of black folks through electoral strategy. They recognize that voting alone will not change the conditions plaguing black communities, but understand that with strategic political actions we can make immediate interventions that move conditions toward ensuring that all black people live full, safe and healthy lives.

This is an opportunity for educators to engage their classrooms in a civic-minded curriculum that will encourage our students to engage with a critical lens in American government systems in regard to voting and all that it entails. We know, reading alongside scholar Carol Anderson, the long history of voter suppression in this country. From photo ID requirements to gerrymandering and poll closures, we know it must be explored throughout ALL our classrooms the ways that racist political maneuverings work to limit voting rights. Yet, these practices can never have the final word as we provide the tools and wisdom to the next generation of civic actors to utilize the vote and many other bold forms of civic protest to demand change.

We offer this to acknowledge and support the efforts of The Electoral Justice Project (EJP). EJP is a project of the Movement4BlackLives which seeks to continue a long legacy of social movements fighting for the advancement of the rights of black folks through electoral strategy. They recognize that voting alone will not change the conditions plaguing black communities, but understand that with strategic political actions we can make immediate interventions that move conditions toward ensuring that all black people live full, safe and healthy lives.

This is an opportunity for educators to engage their classrooms in a civic-minded curriculum that will encourage our students to engage with a critical lens in American government systems in regard to voting and all that it entails. We know, reading alongside scholar Carol Anderson, the long history of voter suppression in this country. From photo ID requirements to gerrymandering and poll closures, we know it must be explored throughout ALL our classrooms the ways that racist political maneuverings work to limit voting rights. Yet, these practices can never have the final word as we provide the tools and wisdom to the next generation of civic actors to utilize the vote and many other bold forms of civic protest to demand change.