During this past school year, I took eight minutes out of each lesson to address social justice and the realities of being Black and brown citizens in America facing an evergoing battle for diversity, equity, and inclusion. They won’t get realistic, real-life messages of struggles Black Americans have faced from the ’80s until now. Most public education systems don’t have culturally inclusive curriculums that address the social justice issues our youth are facing in and out of the classroom.
Public schools in America should have culturally inclusive curriculums and teachers that can identify with the experiences of disadvantaged children in classrooms.
One of the questions I posed to my students in discussing the social injustices of police brutality and people of color in America is why haven’t we changed the law to ensure that these inequities don’t continue? But it’s not just the laws that govern a society that is filled with bias, but the policies in public education that target Black and brown children. I have seen first hand how the lack of equity in policy development impacts the ability of children of color to successfully matriculate through public schools.
A long time advocate, Shawnna Hayes Taveres in Atlanta, would also say to parents at public forums, “If we’re not at the table, we’re on the menu!” It’s true. Too often, rooms where educational policies are set, lack the people who know the experiences and stories of the children we serve in public schools who are impacted by the lack of diversity and inclusion in local and state boards of education.
The question isn’t what are the issues, but how do we fix them? It starts with creating an educational system that meets the needs of all learners. Curricula that are culturally inclusive with staff members who are diverse in thinking, experiences, race, and practicum. We have to be willing to reimage education in a way that fits the needs of all students, especially those who systemically have been overlooked and left behind for generations.
We cannot start to look at the injustices happening in the American public education system when the current President and Governors are cutting education budgets. They are also recommending the layoff of hundreds of teachers when we are already in a teacher crisis, lack experienced teachers with over five years of experience in the classroom, and moreover lack diversity in state superintendents, their cabinets, and staff.
Educators of color, especially those Black educators who have been on the front lines, are going to be critically important in this reformation of public education policies and dismantling the current public education system that has continued to fail so many children of color.
Jason B. Allen is a Special Education Teacher in Clayton County, Georgia. He is a member of the Association of American Educators (AAE) and an AAE Foundation Advocacy Fellow.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.