White Folks Facing Race: Systemic Inclusion in Schools
[This is part of my White Folks Facing Race series, originally written on September 25, 2019 to an email group created for community members in the Washington, DC area.]
Huge news on the front page of The Washington Post about Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and their role in making an effort to be inclusive. Included in that article was a reference to a DC organization called Kindred, which works with gentrifying schools to facilitate discussions of racism and encourage parents to understand and include each other in their school advocacy. How your PTA functions and includes/excludes families is extremely important in our equity work. Please consider taking a bigger role in asking questions about inclusiveness and community engagement, especially if your PTA officer representation does not reflect the makeup of your school. (Full disclosure — I’m Randolph’s PTA president and our Board has been majority or completely white for a very long time even though only 11% of Randolph’s students were white in the 18–19 school year. My goal for my two-year term has been to build leadership equity and inclusiveness so that our core volunteers better reflect our population.)
Also big news this week is an article about the activism of the Black Parents of Arlington about how our schools are not serving all of its students equally. Please be familiar with their advocacy work so you can listen, amplify, and follow their leadership in Arlington’s schools.
Here’s a great article about what parents of color want from white parents in their educational advocacy work. I was going to put this in my list of resources, but it’s so good, and so clear about what white allies need to do, that I wanted to amplify it more by putting it higher up in my update. Please read it.
On September 21, Arlington County committed “to developing an equitable approach to decision-making, with the goal of eliminating disparities in outcomes.” The resolution is here. The press release links to the Government Alliance on Race & Equity, which will be assisting in the process. It will be VERY interesting to see how this develops and I am very glad that Arlington County has taken this step. What comes next will matter. We will certainly be watching.
Voting! I’m sure many of you were inundated like I was with reminders that yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please consider getting involved in get out the vote efforts now, or volunteering to be active on Election Day. Also, in-person absentee voting opened on September 20, so please share this information widely (polls are open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in Arlington and Falls Church City — Arlington: Bozman Government Center (Courthouse Plaza), 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 320; Falls Church City: Office of Elections in City Hall, 300 Park Ave. Suite 206).
If you want to be involved in equity work at APS beyond PTAs, consider volunteering for the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI). The council has subcommittees including the Advisory Committee on English Learners, Arlington Special Ed Advisory Committee, Equity and Excellence, Gifted Services, and Student Services. All of these committees either need members or equity allies. Several of our group members have already signed up and/or have experience serving on ACI, so reach out to me if you have questions and I can put you in touch with them.
I’m curious about a recent press release from APS about its new Student Support Process. It will be interesting to see how this looks in practice and whether families report more satisfaction with the way their concerns are addressed moving forward.
A reminder that the deadline of September 30 is approaching to provide comments on the Transgender/Gender-nonconforming Students draft guidelines for the PIP. People opposed to the policy will be commenting, so we need supporters to register their affirmation of our students in large numbers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) named white supremacy as one of the most potent drivers of domestic terrorism, which is considered an equal threat to foreign terrorism. It’s a step in the right direction.
- Local non-profit organization, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), reached out to me to make sure I was aware of their Undoing Racism Workshops, which they are offering twice this fall. Please check them out!
- “League of Women Voters of Arlington (LWVA), Virginia Humanities, NAACP, the Alliance for Housing Solutions, and Challenging Racism are partnering for an event on the history of racism and housing in Arlington.” Saturday, September 28 from 1:00–3:00 pm at Wakefield HS. Register here.
- Challenging Racism is also hosting a webinar on Tuesday, October 8 from 4:30–5:10 pm called “Conversations about Race for Educators, Students, and Parents.”
- Arlington County is hosting two Housing Matters Forums on October 3 and 7
- A.C.T.O.R. too! (A Continuing Talk On Race) is an open discussion series hosted by Busboys and Poets. The next one is taking place on September 29 at 5:00 pm at the Shirlington location.
- There is a Town Hall Meeting about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which is a primary national education law for public schools. October 2 from 6–8 pm at Kenmore MS. Contact Ingrid Gant or Danielle Miles for more info.
- The Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council are meeting on Tuesday, October 1 from 7:30–9:30 pm at Gunston Community Center. “The unusual effort to fashion a joint approach on an array of related issues is meant to address concerns in both communities about the impacts on rents, housing prices, schools, streets, the environment and more in the wake of Amazon’s arrival and expected expansion, over the next 15 years, of its headquarters workforce to 25,000 employees.” The meeting is open to the public, but there will not be an opportunity for public comment.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.