By Terrence Wilson, J.D.• Knowledge is Power • December 2, 2021 •
School censorship laws and policies swept throughout the U.S. South during the last year, particularly in state legislatures and state school boards. However, there are still many local education leaders who have spoken out or passed their own measures affirming the importance of giving students the tools they need to understand issues of race and discrimination in this country. Below are three examples.
Atlanta Public Schools (Georgia)
In response to a Georgia State Board of Education resolution that seeks to limit the understanding and discussion of issues or racism and prejudice, the Atlanta Public School Board chair and superintendent released a joint statement highlighting its measures aimed at ensuring race is understood in the district’s schools. These include a district equity policy, a resolution on racial equity, and the establishment of a Center for Equity & Social Justice. School officials stated: “If we are to truly educate our children in a manner that enables them to become engaged citizens, laboring to create a more perfect union, then we must provide them with an honest understanding of our history.”
Marietta City Schools (Georgia) Board
The Marietta City School Board’s affirmation of the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in education pre-dates the Georgia State School Board’s resolution. In July 2020, as part of the response to nationwide demands for recognition of the importance of Black lives, the school board passed a Resolution Affirming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The resolution acknowledges the lived experience of the district’s students and staff of color and asserts its commitment to continuous improvement to ensure their success.
Birmingham City Schools (Alabama) School Board
The Birmingham School Board responded to its state school board’s classroom censorship resolution with its own resolution to condemn racism and to advance equity. The resolution calls for the creation of a racial equity plan, culturally responsive resources and development for educators, and an active effort to identify discriminatory policies and practices.
These are just a few examples from the South that show that school and district leaders can counter the pervasive narrative around school censorship by affirming the worth of their students and staff of color and by committing to culturally responsive educational policies and practices.
[©2021, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the December 2, 2021, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]