Our hearts are and we feel shattered. As a white woman, I will never know the pain, disappointment, hurt, and anger my black sisters and brothers are feeling. Nor can I imagine the unthinkable grief experienced by Mr. George Floyd's family following his homicide.
As educators and unionists, we can harness our collective power to teach young people and make this world better and more just for everyone. To accomplish this, we must become the agents of change our students and society so desperately need. Our union has valuable resources to help members and their local unions.
At NYSUT we are committed to social justice. NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer, Philippe Abraham, oversees this work and has curated an array of resources for our members. Learn more at https://www.nysut.org/resources/special-resources-sites/social-justice. And join President Andy Pallotta and Secretary-Treasurer Philippe Abraham at Together We Rise: A Virtual Vigil for Justice, Action and Peace on Monday, June 8 from 4-6 PM. RSVP here: https://www.nysut.org/news/2020/june/vigil.
What else can we do? We can build stronger family, school and community connections and relationships. At NYSUT we have a proven, powerful Family and School Engagement approach that can help strengthen your community connections. Our work highlights innovative ways of engaging families using evidence-based strategies such as home visits, academic parent teacher teams, and student-led conferences and is applicable to all communities. Contact Carolyn Williams in NYSUT's Research and Educational Services Department to learn more (Carolyn.Williams@nysut.org).
We can use restorative practices, culturally responsive practices and teach about bias. Our Education and Learning Trust (ELT), the professional development arm of your union, is ready to assist you with this work. Our R&ES department developed a Restorative Practice workshop for ELT, which includes an introduction of key ideas and components of restorative practices, reasons and research behind using restorative practices and restorative circles.Through a grant provided by the NEA, Research and Educational Services, ELT and has been able to work with school districts on combating systemic racism and implicit bias. Interested? We may be able to tailor learning to meet the needs in your school community. To learn more about this transformative work, contact Bernice Rivera at Bernice.Rivera@nysut.org.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has lessons available on Share My Lesson:
- Teaching about Race and Racism: Lesson Plans and Resources: https://sharemylesson.com/collections/race-and-racism
- Social Justice Issues: Lesson Plans, Resources and Activities: https://sharemylesson.com/node/277426
The National Education Association (NEA) also has resources on their website for educators in the Issues and Actions section and Tools and Ideas section of their website http://www.nea.org/. And they posted new resources on June 6, 2020 found here: https://neaedjustice.org/racial-justice-resources-justice-for-black-lives/?utm_source=edaction&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=J4BL
NYSUT has led on the issue of our teacher shortage and the need for a more diverse workforce in New York state. NYSUT believes all students benefit from a diverse workforce, and we are actively working to recruit more diverse students and career changers into the profession. If you would like to be a part of this work, find out how you can help by visiting our website https://www.nysut.org/resources/special-resources-sites/teaching-gateway or by contacting Greg McCrea to get more involved. (Greg.McCrea@nysut.org)
And while I could never list the resources available to educators here...there are many available. Take this one from the Community Technical Assistance Center of New York. The information below can help educators teach about racial trauma and oppression.
The point in writing all of this is simple. So many of us are asking ourselves, "What can we do?" In our roles as educators, community members and activists the answer is always the same: We can teach.
May you remain safe and strong during this time, and may you never stop fighting for equality for yourselves, your families or your students.