6 students sitting at desks in a classroom. Photo by Max Fischer.

Over the past few months, schools across the country have been embroiled in controversy as far-right leaders attempt to ban the teaching of anything related to race and racism, which they have inaccurately grouped under the label “critical race theory.” White parents have flooded school board meetings in mostly white districts out of fear that “critical race theory” — a 40-year-old academic field which they don’t actually know much about — will somehow harm their children. …

Wall mural of George Floyd with angel wings

In the midst of an ongoing pandemic in which teachers have been incessantly asked to make changes on the fly, yet another wave of anti-Black police violence has broken into the national discourse. As with each time before, many justice-minded families and community members are demanding that our schools engage students in conversations and lessons about race, racism, and policing in our country. …

10 Essential Questions to Ask Before Engaging in Social Justice & DEI Work

(multicolored silhouettes of human faces)

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) work and “diversity training” in schools and organizations across the nation in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the broader social justice awakening in our country. Americans are learning that — unlike what many were taught — racism, sexism and other forms of oppression remain rampant in our society. …

White Supremacy and the Crisis in our Education System

“Racism is Taught” sign

Dear Teachers, School Administrators, School Board Members, Parents, and Anyone Concerned about the Future of Our Country and the Role of our Education System in Shaping that Future:

On January 5, 2021, Rev. Raphael Warnock became the first Black person from Georgia to win a U.S. Senate seat. By the next evening, violent white supremacists had breached the U.S. Capitol building seeking to take hostage and possibly kill government officials. …

(Or Families Will Opt Out)

Single laptop on empty table. Photo by Nick Demou from Pexels

In the past three weeks, I have written three essays and been interviewed many times about how we should consider issues of equity and social justice in our efforts to educate students in the time of Covid-19. I’ve argued that we should do everything in our power to provide safe face-to-face instruction for the most marginalized students and families; that this would require regular, rapid, and reliable testing, mandatory mask usage, and other safety protocols that most schools and districts are not currently in a position to implement; that, as a result, most schools will…

Hundred dollar bill featuring Benjamin Franklin in a mask

Let me be blunt: For most kids, schools are not opening in-person in the fall. Even if your school is one of the few that opens, there is a strong likelihood it will close again before the semester is over.

In my first medium post in this series, I recommended a “both/and” approach to planning for our upcoming school year that recognized both the life-threatening risk of Covid-19 and the needs of families who depend on schools for their very survival. I argued that schools should open for our most marginalized students and families but that they should only do…

The Social Justice Dilemma of Pandemic Pod Schools for Privileged Parents

School Closed

In “Some Students Should go to School, Most Should Stay Home: Socially Just Schooling in the Time of Covid-19,” I argued that we need to adopt both/and thinking in our planning for the coming school year. Instead of going fully online, or trying to provide all students with some face-to-face instruction, I propose that the more socially just answer would be to “make schools work for the students and families who are most on the margins, who are at greatest risk if school buildings remain closed, who cannot meet their basic needs without them. Give these students full days and…

Socially Just Schooling in the Time of Covid-19

single empty school desk

One of the guidelines I have used for many years in my work with educators trying to make their schools, classrooms, and districts more socially just is to practice both/and thinking. Both/and thinking contrasts with the dominant tendency to search for either/or solutions. For example, an either/or approach frames the achievement gap as being about race or class. “Don’t you think the problem is really poverty, not race?” educators ask when we’re looking at test score data. In contrast, both/and thinking frames the achievement and opportunity gap as being about the ways race and class (and many other things) are…

Shayla R. Griffin, PhD, MSW

Co-Founder of https://www.justiceleaderscollaborative.com/, Author of Those Kids, Our Schools & Race Dialogues, Mother of 3

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