The Second Line Blog

Join Us for a Virtual Town Hall on #SeekingChildJustice

Justice for children sounds simple enough, but it’s not. It requires families, communities, nonprofits and others to come together. Education is a key pillar of this platform, but providing a proper education means holding leaders accountable to invest in it. 

In that spirit, brightbeam (the parent organization of Citizen Ed), in partnership with Forward Promisethe Wayfinder Foundation and the Opportunity Institute, are hosting a virtual town hall called “Seeking Child Justice and Reimagining Whole Child Education in COVID-19 and Beyond.” Hosted by brightbeam National Director of Activism Zakiya Sankara-Jabar (follow her on Twitter if you don’t already), the June 10 Facebook Live-YouTube live stream will discuss the ins and outs of how to address the whole child in education, and how that affects students for the rest of their lives.

WE MUST HAVE AN URGENT CONVERSATION ABOUT CHILD JUSTICE AND EMPOWERMENT FOR BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES. JOIN THIS…Posted by Citizen Ed on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Guest panelists include brightbeam CEO Chris Stewart, Wayfinder’s Nekima Levy Armstrong, the Opportunity Institute’s Kedda Williams, Forward Promise’s Rhonda Bryant and “Black Boy Poems” author Tyson Amir

Discussion topics include the social determinants of health, how schools can work to improve children’s overall health and more. The discussion goes live Wednesday, June 10, at noon Eastern. We’ll see you there. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT…

brightbeam
Brightbeam is a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and a brighter future for every child. 

It is the umbrella organization for the platforms known as Citizen EdEducation PostProject Forever Free, and more than 20 other local and regional sites that spotlight education issues nationally. 

One of brightbeam’s primary concerns is that, in many of America’s most progressive cities, hidden in the shadows of all that prosperity are too many children who will never enjoy all that their city has to offer. See brightbeam’s report, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunity for All,” by clicking here

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar is the National Director of Activism at brightbeam. She is the co-founder of Racial Justice NOW! and most recently served as the National Field Organizer at Dignity in Schools Campaign. Zakiya came to organizing, advocacy, and policy work organically as a parent pushing back on harmful school discipline policies that disproportionately impact Black students and their families. Zakiya’s organizing and advocacy acumen has led to significant policy changes at the local and state level in the State of Ohio. Since then, Zakiya has worked in communities all across the country sharing tools, strategies, and skills with Black parents to shift education policy and practice.

Zakiya has been named to the inaugural #Power50 leadership fellowship for women of color with Community Change and the Community Activist Fellowship with Wayfinder Foundation. Zakiya is a preeminent thought leader in racial and education justice and has received numerous awards. In her free time, Zakiya enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and 2 children.

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of brightbeam. He was named CEO in April 2019, after formerly serving as chief executive of Wayfinder Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. In the past, Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education where he was radicalized by witnessing the many systemic inequities that hold our children back.

In 2007 Chris was elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. In that role, he helped establish the Office of New Schools, an area of the Minneapolis Public Schools to implement school reform strategies. At the same time he created the Equity and Achievement Committee, authored a board-level “Covenant with the African American Community,” and advocated safe, orderly, and rigorous schools that prepare students for the real world.

Forward Promise
“Forward Promise is a national program that seeks to build and strengthen the villages that raise and empower boys and young men of color to heal, grow and thrive.”

Dr. Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant is President and CEO at The Moriah Group, an international consulting firm, based in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Bryant has over 20 years of work experience focused on issues of children of color across the age span of birth to young adulthood in the areas of program development and public policy advocacy. Her expertise has been integral to advancing the national work on BMOC through her prior work with Forward Promise and other initiatives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services, a master’s degree in Urban Affairs & Public Policy, and a doctorate in Education Leadership.

The Opportunity Institute

“We work to increase social and economic mobility and advance racial equity through partnership and collaboration with those seeking to promote systems change.”

Kedda is the Deputy Director of the Opportunity Institute’s P-12 program where she holds an internal leadership role focused on organizational strategic planning, fundraising, and administration. Kedda continues to act as Senior Program Director of State and Local Networks where she leads the development and implementation of national-level policy guidance that seeks to advance equity through meaningful stakeholder engagement at the state and local levels.

Related links:
PAVE Parent Leaders’ Statement of Beliefs – A Family-Centered Response to Coronavirus in DC 
LEARNING HEROES Parents 2020 COVID-19 Closures in English and Spanish 
COVID-19 Comprehensive FAQ for FamiliesCOVID-19 Comprehensive FAQ Summary in English and Spanish and individual sections with DSC and NAACP LDF

The Wayfinder Foundation

“Our strategy is radically simple: Invest in women. Change the world.”

Nekima Levy Armstrong is a civil rights attorney, activist, and the Executive Director for Wayfinder Foundation. She previously served as a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas Law School for thirteen years, where she founded and directed the Community Justice Project, an award-winning civil rights legal clinic.

Black Boy Poems

Tyson Amir is a rapper blessed with a poignant message, electrifying cadence, enlightening lyrics and it all combines to form a music with enough heart and soul to move a generation. Tyson is also a poet, emcee, educator, author, activist but if you ask him he’ll say he’s “a freedom fighter”. His fight is born out of love for humanity, justice and peace for all. Each one of these layers are intricately woven into his praxis and practice.

white supremacy & anti-blackness: a covert & overt beast

I share this in a moment where I am balancing feelings of intense rage and hope for a new future where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are able to survive, thrive, move, laugh, live, exist, make mistakes, and just be. This is an invitation for you to do your own work in unpacking how white supremacy and anti-Blackness manifests and how we all need to engage in the deep, personal work of unraveling how this beast is burrowed into our collective psyches. Again, this is an invitation for you to do your own work, just like I’ve had to do and continue to do as a mixed-race, non-Black, Latina. Lastly, this is an invitation. You can join or not join, but please know that by not joining you are choosing to feed the beast that is white supremacy. Let’s get started.

White supremacy and anti-blackness is a beast that since the beginning of our history as a country has burrowed its way into every facet of American life. The beast is a violent one, a sometimes silent one, but it is ever-present and always ready to pounce on anyone or any concept that threatens its predatory way of life. White supremacy lives in our education system which produces inequitable outcomes based on race, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, and any other and all identities who dare to challenge the beast that whiteness is the standard that all others should be compared/strive to/concede to. White supremacy lives in our health and economic system which was built on the forced enslavement of African and Indigenous peoples. The violent enslavement of human beings, who had souls, families, and homes, who were traded and sold into bondage for profit. FOR. PROFIT. Without any regard for human life, all based on false science, fake news if you will, that stated that blackness meant inferiority and therefore you, white person, don’t have to treat them like a human being. Here is what the beast said and continues to say,

“You, White Person, Don’t Have To Feel Bad About Your Racist Thoughts, Actions, And Beliefs Because Science Says That You Are Better! Drink This In! Believe This! It’s Fact-Based” The Beast Also Says, “We’re Living In A Post-Racial Society. Just Be Kind. Colorblindness Is The Way To Go. But, Deep Down, Remember That You, White Person, Are Superior.”

This spewing of anti-blackness is the putrid meat, the spoiled fruit, that keeps the beast sustained. And so, when we sit and wonder why our country’s industries prioritize human health and well being over profit, THIS. IS. WHY. When we sit and wonder why our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members are slain in public daylight by white people and police officers and then those same white people and police officers are able to return to their lives, return to their families, return to their homes. THIS. IS. WHY. When we see the differentiation of treatment in white people wielding guns to protest stay-at-home orders and wearing masks in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing BIPOC vs. the BIPOC protestors who are demanding justice for the murders of Black people by the police. THIS IS WHY. This beast, white supremacy and anti-blackness, is real. It can be both covert and overt, but in both of its forms, the beast is violent.

The recent police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, while exercising, by two white men. The threatening of Christian Cooper’s life by a white woman who was offended that he (a Black man) asked her to put her dog on a leash, is violent. All of these manifestations of the beast are violent, and they are also examples of how overt white supremacy and racism manifests. But what about the covert ways? What about the insidious, silent ways that the beast crawls through our biases, beliefs, organizational practices, business policies, educational pedagogies, healthcare systems, and government. It is no accident that when you google any outcome that white people are still succeeding at higher rates than people of color, specifically at higher rates than Black community members. Try it: Google these phrases:

  • “Racial wealth gap”
  • “Educational attainment rates by race”
  • “Housing disparities by race”
  • “Life expectancy rate by race”
  • “Maternal and infant mortality rates by race”

These covert ways that the beast moves are just as violent as the overt ways. Take a look at the pyramid below. Read through all of the ways that white supremacy moves, and especially take stock of the covert ways. I want you to read through every single one of the phrases on the covert part of the pyramid. I implore you to unpack them, digest them, take stock of ones that you have said, believed, continue to believe, or have assured others that they are ok to say and believe.

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In conclusion, please: Do. Your. Own. Work. A common way that white supremacy manifests is by expecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) to teach you, white people, about race. As if we were the ones that invented the fake science around it in the first place. As if we were the ones who spread this fake news across the globe. As if we were the ones who used race as an excuse to decimate and subjugate entire populations of people from this earth. Asking a BIPOC individual to teach you is a violent act. It is unpaid, traumatizing labor. It is painful. Ultimately, it is lazy of you and an act of white supremacy to engage in anti-racism work in this way. I started this blog piece as an invitation, and I will end with one. You are invited to research, read, journal, discuss white supremacy and anti-Blackness with other white people if you are white, discuss white supremacy and anti-Blackness with other BIPOC if you identify as BIPOC, watch documentaries, dig-in, dismantle the beast. Will you RSVP?

Resources:

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This article was first posted on wearebeloved.org

How Our Country Devalues, Dehumanizes and Dethrones Black Men

I woke up Tuesday morning and had no clue who George Floyd was. But, I heard him crying out, “Mama!” as he lay on the ground dying in my dream that night. 

That morning I had no idea what awaited me — I did what I have done every morning since I can remember. I rolled over and thanked God for allowing me to see another day and reached for my phone to start my day by responding to dozens of emails. 

Scrolling through my notifications, I noticed a friend of mine had posted a video with an angry reaction. Out of curiosity, I began to watch not knowing how a scene I had seen far too many times, a black man in handcuffs after committing some petty crime and onlookers conflicted as to whether or not they should intervene and face the same fate. I did not expect to watch the final moments of George Floyd’s life.

I don’t usually watch videos depicting police brutality because they have started to produce a type of trauma that makes being black in public feel like a death sentence. After seeing black men killed just for existing, it’s hard to think of a place where we are entirely safe except for in our homes. Even at home, “no-know” warrants put our lives at risk. Our very existence is criminalized, brutalized, and over-policed. Systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality seek to knock black men off of our throne from birth. 

Black men make up the minority of America’s population but overpopulate jails and prisons. The same is true for schools, where you’d be hard-pressed to find more than one of us in most classrooms, yet we face significant disproportionality in discipline. It’s almost as if this country has assigned us to a status in life from birth and track us for prison labor or death when we don’t comply or conform — the new and pervasive form of slavery. 

For AT LEAST 7 minutes and 54 seconds, an officer crushed #GeorgeFloyd‘s neck and throat with his knee as he laid on the ground handcuffed. 

He laid there, unable to move, restrained pleading for his life. “I can’t breathe!” “My stomach hurts!” “Mama!” he screamed in agony. 

The hubris-inspired ego of unchecked authority backed by a gun and badge disregarded, devalued, and stole the life of my brother. 

I’m in no mood to play politics as usual — between this pandemic and police brutality, there is little room to debate the change this country, our schools, and our communities need. It’s easier now more than ever to choose right from wrong. It’s simple,  Black people ought to be treated with the same dignity and respect that everyone else demands. This country never intended for people of color, especially black people, to have access to the inalienable rights it proclaims are free to all men — that is evidenced by the reactions we faced while merely trying to secure civil rights. Dr. King was not marching for Black superiority, but the lowest hanging fruit that had been denied to Black people since 1619 on this land, the dignity of truly being free. 

Until people in power and privilege look upon the suffering of black bodies, dying in the street at the hands of police brutality, systemic racism, and white supremacy, nothing will change. Black people have been doing our part, but we are tired now and growing angrier and angrier as justice seems more and more out of reach. 

What I have come to learn is that white supremacy is rooted in the idea, the lie, that every other race is inferior. This lie has given privilege to those who do not deserve it. On its face, that sense of supremacy is rooted in inferiority. If whiteness were truly supreme, why has it not been able to stand on its own be such without having to rely upon the power of racism to subjugate people of color? 

Don’t tell me that all lives matter if you can watch a man be robbed of his dignity and see no wrong. Every officer who stood by and watched is complicit. Every American who has sought to learn more about any incident before deciding whether or not an unarmed black man deserved to die is complicit. Every media outlet that searched to find mugshots or dig up dirt from the past to make sense of what might have led to a violent police reaction has blood on their hands. Even every well-meaning white person who does not use their privilege to speak truth to power on and demand change is culpable. 

As you watch the civil unrest in Minnesota, remember that fire cannot burn in every environment. The right conditions and material substances have to be present for a flame to burn. More so, something has to accelerate or ignite (spark) the flame. We cannot condemn the act of rioting or looting and be silent about the symptoms, conditions, substances that sparked the fire in the first place. Systemic racism, poverty, and police brutality were the substances — the murder of #GeorgeFloyd was the spark.

To reduce a grown-ass black man to cry out for his mother is beyond cruel, it’s evil. George Floyd’s death was a punishment that in no way matched his alleged crime, forgery, or check fraud. The officers who took part in this lynching being arrested is a start. Still, if this tragedy does not lead to arrests and convictions, then the erasure of George’s life is proof of the fact that America’s idea of liberty and justice for all is just meant for a few. America has to change, whether by power seeing the light or by feeling the fire. Enough is enough!

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This article was first posted on citizen.education

Prom 2020 getting a savage virtual remix amid Covid-19

May is the month of the year that every high school senior is waiting for all school year long because it’s filled with celebrations like awards banquets, prom and graduation. For the class of 2020, May has been filled with disappointments because those and many other events have been canceled amid the statewide stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Orleans lifestyle influencer, mom and wife Tracey Wiley is giving prom a reboot for those seniors missing amid this challenging time. She is enlisting the help of friends, colleagues and supporters to host a savage themed prom called “PROMVID-20.” 

“I really wanted to do something for the senior class of 2020. After talking to my godchild my heart broke for these kids. I couldn’t imagine dealing with the roller coaster of emotions. These kids have worked so hard for four years,” Wiley said. “Since we are put on this earth to serve others, I thought about how I could help and maybe put a smile of these kids face even if it’s just for an hour and a half.”

Wiley, who did not have a senior prom herself, will host the virtual prom on Zoom from the New Orleans Jazz Market on Thursday, May 14 from 7 to 8:30 pm. She is encouraging ladies to come “classy, bougie, sassy, glamorous or just doing you,” and guys can dress “like a classic man, fly, trendy, laid back or just doing you.”

PROMVID-20 will feature a live DJ, Chevi Red, a live performance from Casmé and giveaways for students who register for the event.

“We want to celebrate you by reminding you that PROM IS NOT CANCELED! This is just a remix,” Wiley said. “There’s no right or wrong way to do this! We want to see you laugh, dance, twerk, and just feel good just as you are!”
Students who want to attend PROMVID-19 can register for free on eventbrite.

The Saddest Part of This School Year Is Missing the ‘Light Bulb’ Moments

“This is our Happy place.” It’s even posted on the wall. And usually from August through May, it is our happy place. But today, when I walk into the classroom, I see those words and it doesn’t seem happy. I feel like I’m in a movie and the past few months replay in my mind. 

I remember the lost teeth, watching the students working together. I remember the smiles on their face when they figured out the math problem or finally got the shoelace tied. The spring is usually the most exciting time of year. This is what we have all worked so hard for since August. This is the time of year when the “light bulb” starts to go off and all of the boring lessons we have been doing, come together to make sense. 

We won’t be building robots this year, we won’t have our Mother’s Day Tea Party, we won’t be publishing our story book, we won’t have any more field trips, or the end of the year awards ceremony.  

Instead, I stand here looking at the calendar that still says March 13—the day time froze. I think that’s what hurts the most. I don’t feel like I have had enough time with these children. These beautiful faces come into my room in August, with an imaginary note that says, “I’m only here for a year. But in that short amount of time, I promise to fill your heart, make you laugh and love you forever.” 

I love my job because of these amazing faces. They are the reasons why I have never felt like work was work. Not seeing them each day is tough. Knowing that when we go back to school, these babies won’t be my babies. They will be months older, wiser and I’m sure an inch or two taller but I hope they know they will always be welcomed back into OUR happy place. 

The truth is that distance does make the heart grow fonder but time has to move forward. I know I will see them around school and on the playground, so that helps heal the heartache of this year. I just hope they know they will forever be in my heart.

Here’s How We Can Keep This Crisis From Digging Even Wider Educational Divides

I am a former school leader and a current educational strategist who works with charter leaders from all across New Orleans. Together, we have been thinking about the intersection of educational inequity and the disparate impact of COVID-19. With so much instability in our children’s educational experience, we know that high-quality curriculum matters more than ever before. We are considering what to do now to support our children, as well as what comes next. 

WE WILL STILL FACE THE REVERBERATING IMPACTS THAT ARE COMING FROM THIS CRISIS, ESPECIALLY IN OUR MINORITY COMMUNITIES.

Scientists continue to work on ways to stop this pandemic—and when they finally do, we will turn the page and look to the future. It’s hard to believe now, but folks will get back to work, restart the economy, and begin to see past this horrifying time in our nation’s history. When we rush back to our lives, however, we will still face the reverberating impacts that are coming from this crisis, especially in our minority communities.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said it best in a recent tweet—“Our Black and brown communities face a crisis within a crisis.” In Louisiana, for instance, while Black residents make up around 30% of the state’s population, as of April 20, 56% of Louisianans who have died from COVID-19 have been Black. 

That inequity is not only found in the toll of the virus itself. We will also see an impact on those people of color who faced insecurity in jobs, food or housing even before this moment. And we will see an impact in our education system, too. In Louisiana, as in many states, school buildings will be closed through the end of the school year; the learning loss that normally occurs during the summer is now a real risk even before summer begins. The cost of a slow rollout of distance learning could be significant, and take the greatest toll on children of color. 

MANY CHILDREN LACKED THE TECHNOLOGY NEEDED TO CONNECT.

When the virus hit, schools and districts with mostly White and affluent students could have the confidence that most of their students would be able to fully engage with online distance learning right away. For districts like New Orleans, with mostly students of color and students who are economically disadvantaged, quick efforts to roll out online distance learning faced a significant barrier: Many children lacked the technology needed to connect.

TAKING ACTION TO KEEP KIDS CONNECTED AND LEARNING

Our district leadership took immediate action to purchase the materials those students needed, but it takes time to procure, safeguard and distribute technology citywide. Many of our students were—and are—also dealing with housing and food insecurity that makes it more difficult to launch and maintain an at-home learning environment. 

DISTRICTS THAT SERVE MOSTLY STUDENTS OF COLOR, AND THOSE WITH HIGH RATES OF ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS, WILL FACE A STEEPER CLIMB THAN OTHERS WHEN IT COMES TO DISTANCE LEARNING.

This is not unique to New Orleans. Across our nation, districts that serve mostly students of color, and those with high rates of economically disadvantaged students, will face a steeper climb than others when it comes to distance learning. But by having a strong, clear distance learning plan, we can make sure closed buildings do not mean closed schools and drastic educational losses.   

This means connecting students with technology, if at all possible. It also means continuous engagement with students and families, through the phone, the internet, or both. And it remains as important as ever to provide a high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum. We cannot fully control that students may take in less material than usual right now. We can control whether or not that material is the highest quality it can be. 

Many Tier-1 curriculum vendors are providing updated materials for a distance learning context online. Schools can take advantage of this, lowering the lift of translating existing materials for a new kind of delivery. Schools can also continue to provide their teachers with (virtual) professional development around their Tier-1 curriculum, so they can better adjust to this “new normal.”

ACADEMICS ARE ONLY ONE PART OF THE RESPONSE

Academics are just one part of this, though. A strong distance learning plan also takes students’ basic needs and mental health into account. During this pandemic, Black and Brown children will lose loved ones at a disproportionate rate compared to their White peers; this will take a deep emotional toll. An incredibly high number of New Orleans’ children had already experienced trauma prior to this event, and this horrible crisis could cause those numbers to increase.  

RESOURCES FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH CARE, FOOD, SHELTER, AND MORE REMAIN CRITICAL

It is imperative, then, that our distance learning plans involve connecting mental health experts, like social workers, to provide support to students, families, and school staff members who have been heavily impacted by this crisis. Resources for physical health care, food, shelter, and more remain critical as well. We can leverage external partnerships to help do so—they are more important than ever. Making certain that students receive vital supports is key to the strength of our community and the growth and health of our students.  

WE CAN REIMAGINE WHAT SCHOOL LOOKS LIKE

We must maintain our focus on the present moment and through the close of the school year. But we must also look even further ahead. There is much we will learn from this crisis—from how to support students experiencing trauma, to how to connect children to local resources, to how to best leverage technology. We can take what we have learned to reimagine what school will look like in the next two, five, or even fifteen years. We can also join in conversations with our families, community members, fellow educators and students themselves about what we will need from federal, state, and local officials as we re-open schools.   

Together, we can keep this crisis from digging even wider educational divides. Our children of color already face great inequities. If we focus on distance learning and whole-child support, and keep an eye on the future, we can help keep them safe and learning today and expand their opportunities tomorrow.  

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This article was first posted on educationpost.org

The FCC and Trump Administration Are Sacrificing Student Learning for Corporate Profit

Once again, the FCC and the Trump administration are sacrificing underserved children on the altar of corporate profits. If there was any question who the FCC works for it was answered this week with another timid and industry-favoring response to the pandemic.

Yesterday, with ample self-promoted fanfare and self-congratulations, the FCC pulled in their pal Betsy DeVos from the Department of Education to tout their latest puff of smoke, in a press release titled, “FCC and U.S. Department of Education Promote Remote Education So Students Can Continue Learning.”

At first, you might think this is a good thing. After all, everyone agrees that right now every child needs internet access, otherwise they cannot attend school. And just because a child was born to a parent with an old debt should not lock them out of the virtual schoolhouse. That’s why thousands of parents, educators and activists have been imploring the FCC to force cable companies and broadband providers to put the pandemic and the country ahead of their own profits. But the FCC won’t do it. 

Instead, the FCC used yesterday’s press release to throw up a smokescreen, and not actually solve this problem—a problem it could fix with one stroke of a pen.

What a joke. And by the way that joke is on you, as a taxpayer. But it weighs most heavily on the 12 million students in the U.S. without reliable access to internet. 

First of all, the press release literally has nothing new to offer. It’s essentially a summary of the money already allocated for education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted more than a month ago. And by the way, that $16 billion is not nearly enough to deal with the sudden and unimaginable body blow the entire education sector has been dealt.

Worse, the FCC is basically saying that the way they’re going to “help” is by telling states and schools to deal with the problem themselves. Insult, meet injury.

I reached out to an expert who has worked for over a decade with the FCC’s E-Rate program, which is intended to make internet more affordable for schools and libraries. Here is how he described the “news” from DeVos and the FCC: “It’s still wholly incomplete. Block grants and optional choices still doesn’t include fucking internet.”

If you want to bore yourself with the details you can check out what they are promising. But the bottom line is that kids don’t need some block grants, with no promise they get connected, or some optional choices, publicity efforts, or partnerships with internet companies, who may offer you grace or they may not. 

And that’s the rub. We don’t need a program that relies on the kindness of internet companies or states. The FCC needs to guarantee an individual right for every low-income child to internet that allows them to fully participate in school. At a minimum they need to state this as the goal and use the pressure of their federal regulatory authority to hold the feet of these profit-driven, broadband goliaths to the fire. 

The FCC and particularly its chairman Ajit Pai could do this, and the fact they don’t says a lot about who they serve and who they don’t.

Don’t be bamboozled, the current “news” from the FCC will have all our underserved families right back where they are now, in 6 months, probably less. Sitting outside the virtual schoolhouse door, relegated to a second-class internet, or begging for kindness from fickle and greedy cable companies, who hold the key to the schoolhouse door.Our babies deserve better. Please sign and share the petition, and join Arne DuncanJeb Bush and nearly 15,000 others who believe that internet should be a right for low-income children, and that the FCC should demand that any internet company that wants to use the nation’s airwaves provide free service with no strings attached for the most vulnerable families.

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This article was first posted on citizen.education

A Shortlist for Schools and Parents on How to Survive COVID-19

As with any natural disaster, catastrophic event, or unforeseen change, the impact on marginalized communities and communities of color is multiplied due to centuries of subjugation and oppression which has led to lasting inequities in our society. This time with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is, unfortunately, no different. 

If we take New Orleans as an example and look at the data that our Data Center provides, you can see that the hospitality and tourism industry is our number one industry. You can also see that the income disparities amongst folks that work in that industry are tied to race, with white people vastly outpacing people of color in income. Our hospitality industry is getting hit hard at this time, with several restaurants closing and therefore laying off their workforce, which in New Orleans means Black and Brown folks. 

What happens when our service industry workers of color have lost their jobs and are now balancing that stress on top of caring for children who would otherwise be in school with meals and technology provided for them? Unfortunately, we’re living in that reality right now. 

Several folks in the education and activism space have written pieces about how COVID-19 is illuminating disparities. Others have curated resources for parents and schools on how to make the most of this transition. 

 Digging through resources is a job on its own so below I’ve done some of the work for you and provided brief summaries of a few I’ve found helpful. 

For Schools:

Covid 19 Response Strategy-Mini Equity Audit: Beloved Community’s free webinar assists organizations and schools in assessing their Covid 19 response strategies to ensure their strategies are centering equity in their plans and decision-making, especially during moments of crisis and uncertainty.

Schoolrunner Webinar – Learning While Schools Are Closed: Resources for Distance Learning: Three New Orleans schools outline how they moved quickly to serve students and families in transitioning to virtual classrooms.

Equity Isn’t Just About Technology. It’s About Supporting Students and Families: Here’s what drew me into this interview piece: “Nearly 30 million low-income students rely on schools for breakfast or lunch, leaving schools scrambling to make new plans. Fourteen percent of households with school-age children do not have internet access, most of which earn less than $50,000 a year. And research indicates that students from low-income backgrounds could fall further behind their peers if learning stops too long and the country sinks into recession.”

For Parents:

Raising Race Conscious Children: This website has amazing resources for adults and parents seeking ways to talk about race and identity with youth. Now is a great time to lean into these conversations with your children, as Covid-19 is highlighting how identities impact experiences and disparities.

Supporting Families During COVID-19: A great place for daily videos and free resources for parents. Parents can even sign up for daily email tips for parenting through Covid 19.

Tips for handling work and kids during COVID-19 isolation: This article shares tips for how to explain the pandemic to your children, and how to create stability during this time.

Liberate Meditation App: This is the only meditation app by and for the Black and African Diaspora. They offer free guided meditations, organized by topic and how you’re feeling. Many are kid-friendly, too!

I urge you at this time to lean into empathy for your neighbors, youth and colleagues who are experiencing multiple intersections of oppression during this time. Lead with love and grace in this moment, and if you’re a leader of a school or organization, please continue to prioritize equity and inclusion in your policies and practices. Now is not the time to sweep those initiatives to the side in exchange for quick fixes and urgency. Be kind, practice gratitude, stay inside, and we’ll all get through this together.