REAL Education Means Racially Just Education


root - Posted on 20 November 2009

A revolutionary proposal for families and teachers is proposed to the West Contra Costa School Board

by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

"They called security to escort me off of school grounds," Margareta P., a mama and abuelita to Russell P, was relating her experience of advocating for her 9 year old grandson at his Richmond elementary school when he was being wrongly labeled as a special education student when he only needed ESL services. She related further that she gave up in her attempt to be a school volunteer at his school as she was required to go through so many system-based hoops just to apply. Margareta's experience is common to many mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunties and uncles when they try to step onto elementary, middle or high school grounds in districts across the country in support or as co-teachers of their children.

WHEREAS, R.E.A.L. (Reclaiming Education Access and Learning) Schools Now! is a family-led campaign to create district policy that revolutionizes the learning experience of young people of color, liberates teacher creativity, and re-imagines the role of community as critical to the learning process. - Excerpt from the Real Education Policy proposal May 2009

As Margareta spoke, my mind traveled to a different school environment where her words, ideas, culture, language and powerful voice of eldership would not only be heard but would be a part of shaping policies and curriculum for her son's elementary school. A policy like the Real Education Policy being proposed by R.E.A.L. (Reclaiming Education Access and Learning) Schools Now! family leaders with the support of School Board member Audrey Miles to the WCCUSD school board Academic subcommittee and then on to the full board.

After launching the REAL schools NOW campaign in December of 2005, families of children in schools in Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito and Pinole have been working together to re-envision schools and school district policies to actively work towards inclusion of family voice, family knowledge, culture and community support.

WHEREAS, young people thrive when teachers, staff, parents and students are supported in building strong partnerships in education with one another; and
WHEREAS, young people thrive when parents are welcomed into schools as educators and change makers.

In 2007 the REAL Schools Now campaign completed a study of teachers in collaboration with United Teachers of Richmond. The findings from this study uncovered the need for less emphasis on testing and scripted curriculums mandated by standardized testing models of teaching the more professional development for teachers and prep time to support teachers in their efforts to work with parents and family members, to value cultures different from theirs, knowledge gained through lived experience and even to understand education rooted in community vision.

WHEREAS, young people of color thrive when teachers are given the time, resources and support to create classrooms that work in partnership with families, connect learning back to lived experiences and cultures, and prepare students to become critical thinkers and leaders.

The REAL education proposal is a template for educational equity, racial justice and real systemic change as it begins the process to change the fundamentally harmful school and school district policies that inform Western, Euro-centric systems of education which have their roots in white supremacy and structural racism.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that District staff shall provide teacher training, supported by time for aligning curriculum, in the areas of equity, socio-political realities, honoring youth, youth leadership, use of facilitation and popular education as well as inter-discipline, cross-discipline and feeder pattern sharing of best practices.

Margareta finished her story to tell me that she hopes for change and sees a time when it will be different and that if the REAL education policy goes through she will try again to be a volunteer at her grandson's school. A school that is informed by REAL Education.

For more information on this resolution and the REAL Schools Now campaign call Justice Matters (510) 235-1578 or go on-line to www.justicematters.org

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