Parents Perpetuating Segregated Schools

 Hi Friends,

I hope you enjoyed my last post about Entitlement and Racist Actions. I want to follow up somewhat promptly with more content related to educational equity in particular, especially the ways in which PTAs are structured and the ways in which mostly White and privileged parents turn schools into commodities (“good” and “bad”) thereby upholding white supremacy and systemic racism.

There was a recent story about the DC Urban Moms forum and its role in perpetuating segregation in DC area schools. Vanessa Williamson, Jackson Gode, and Hao Sun write “‘We all want what’s best for our kids:’ Discussions of D.C. public school options in an online forum” (Brookings Institution, 3/29/21). For example, “a great deal of the activity on the forum is dedicated to discussing how to leverage the District’s complex school choice system to ensure that one’s children are in one of the small number of public schools deemed acceptable, a process that reinforces the District’s geographic and educational segregation.” These conversations are happening all over the country and are perpetuating school segregation. If you want to learn more about how to counteract this, check out the resources at Integrated Schools and join our local Arlington chapter.

I also want to call attention to the Virginia PTA “A Deeper D.I.V.E. Webinar: Courageous Conversations — Creating a Safe Space in our PTAs” that addresses inclusion in PTAs and some incredibly important takeaways about the challenges PTAs face and why (start the video from the beginning if it starts partway through). Please take the time to engage with this even if you’re not involved in a PTA — the insights are relevant for much broader applications.

My housing search in Denver has brought my work into my family’s decision-making process as we consider where we want to live after we move. Schools and neighborhoods are segregated there, too, and looking at the DOE data shows evidence of “white flight” neighborhoods. I have already connected with the local chapter of Integrated Schools there so I can listen and learn from people who have been doing this work for a while and who have an understanding of the dynamics. School segregation has also been evident in our conversations with realtors who discuss “good schools” — it has been interesting to push back on their assumptions and start to model another way of thinking for them.

Where can you push back on assumptions and start to question the racist systems that are in place all around us? What everyday conversations are you a part of that you can start to model something different that doesn’t perpetuate bias and discrimination?

Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Entitlement and Racist Actions

 Hi Friends!

I’m sorry it has been longer than usual since my last update. I have some really important things on my mind, so I hope you make time to listen and internalize what I have to say.

First, I have been trying to identify things as “racist actions” rather than identifying people as racist. We all do things that are racist from time to time because we’re all operating within a racist system. It doesn’t make us bad people, it means that we need to continue to learn and listen and work hard to unlearn those racist biases so we can take more anti-racist actions than racist actions in any given day.

Second, our awareness of our privilege (and there are so many kinds of privilege) must also include awareness of entitlement. Entitlement and racist actions often go hand in hand, for example, in situations of resource hoarding — “I must get all of the best things.”

For example, claiming equity to further your own priorities (or get what you want for you or your kids) without actually listening to the people you claim to support is a racist action. Please revisit the article I shared by James Bridgeforth and Steve Desir called “OPINION: When it comes to reopening schools, it’s time for leaders to listen to Black families” (The Hechinger Report, 3/8/21). Please also internalize the data shown on the APS website for “Learning Model Enrollment Data” and understand that families of color in our community are showing their preferences with their enrollment choices — not because there are no seats available, but because many of them prefer for their students to learn virtually for a myriad of reasons.

Each and every one of us can identify ways in which our equity work has only extended as far as our own child or neighborhood or school community. We must choose to break past those comfort zones and listen to the priorities of those who are most affected by inequity. If we understand, for example, that some families feel uncomfortable returning their children to school buildings because they do not have health insurance and getting sick could mean financial ruin, what could we do to support universal healthcare access or health care reform? If we understand that some families feel uncomfortable returning their children to school buildings because they have lost multiple family members to covid-19, what could we do to address health care disparities and vaccine access equity? How can we change our work to focus on the challenges facing others rather than solely looking at the challenges that affect us?

Before you text your Black friend and ask them what their anti-racist priorities are, pause. Do not ask individual BIPOC in your life to educate you about racism. Look for the BIPOC voices that are already publicly available from people who have chosen to be vulnerable and share their perspectives and experiences. Seek out anti-racist organizations that have shared their priorities and goals and who welcome you to have these conversations. There are times when it is appropriate to ask individual people for their perspectives and input (as we would with someone we care about), but it cannot be about things that are easily addressed by Google (like “how can I be less racist?” or “what is it like to be Black?”). Imagine a man asking a woman to explain sexism to him when instead he could find the answers without putting her on the spot. Now imagine that happening every single day. Asking a person who you have privilege over to explain their oppression to you is a form of oppression.

BIPOC anti-racist leaders in our community are working tirelessly for change, attending all the meetings, talking to all the people, doing all the things. They need and deserve to work with community members who have earned their trust and who can be entrusted with listening, amplifying, and following their leadership and moving their goals and priorities forward. What steps are you taking, each and every day, to become one of those people? That is your goal. Your goal is not to support, not to help, but to listen (and believe them), amplify their words and actions, and to follow their leadership. When you are invited to lead by existing BIPOC led efforts, you will know that you are heading in the right direction. Don’t stop! Keep going.

I realize that waiting to be invited might feel disempowering or uncomfortable. Sit with that feeling. Understand that BIPOC leaders experience that feeling every day. While White people can never truly understand what it is to be a racially marginalized person in our society, we must be willing to experience discomfort and show compassion and empathy for fellow human beings. We must be willing to accept that we will not always get what we want for ourselves or for our kids. Expressing hate towards people who disagree with you does not move us forward — it only perpetuates hate. Shunning people who are not taking as many anti-racist actions as you are does not move us forward — it only centers yourself and your experiences. Instead, exercise your humility, your compassion, and your desire to bring as many people along in your anti-racist actions as you can. If people around you are taking a hateful path, speak up and change the conversation. Silence is complicity.

With all of this in mind, I am thrilled to endorse my friend, Mary Kadera, for Arlington County School Board. I recruited Mary to join the CCPTA Executive Board as Vice President because I am grateful for her ability to take a countywide approach in her advocacy for students and educational equity. She showed strong leadership instincts and a cool head when she was PTA President at McKinley Elementary School, which was part of a very divisive school boundary process. Most of all, I am endorsing Mary because she has shown a willingness to listen and true compassion for every student in Arlington. Voting in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s 2021 School Board Caucus is taking place online from May 17–23. Please vote!

Many resources are below. I’m behind on catching up on all of the amazing resources I’ve been finding (and thinking about how best to share them with you), so I’m sending this now and I’ll follow up with more soon. (Freeing myself from perfectionism!)

- Theresa Vargas writes “A high school football team told adults they were spat on and called the n-word. Nothing changed until a player posted, ‘enough is enough!’” (Washington Post, 3/20/21)
- Hannah Natanson and Justin Jouvenal write “Asian student verbally harassed, spat at outside Fairfax middle school” (Washington Post, 3/25/21)

- Paul Waldman writes “The Opportunity Society” (The American Prospect, 5/1/12) — for insight into privilege.
Reimagine Safety is a Washington Post Editorial Board project.
- Kate Silver writes “A new guide leads travelers through U.S. civil rights history” (Washington Post, 3/19/21)
- Eli Rosenberg writes “‘People shouldn’t be afraid of the word white privilege’: New labor secretary talks inequality, racism and union power in first interview” (Washington Post, 3/24/21)

- Alafair Burke writes “Opinion: Who will march for Asian Americans after the killings in Atlanta?” (Washington Post, 3/17/21)
- Marianna Sotomayor writes “In wake of Atlanta slayings, lawmakers clash during emotional hearing about attacks on Asian Americans” (Washington Post, 3/18/21). What struck me in particular is the quote from Rep. Tom McClintock “‘If America was such hate filled, discriminatory, racist society filled with animus against Asian Americans, how do you explain the remarkable success of Asian Americans in our country?’ he asked, asserting that the community faces the fewest prejudice-driven attacks and makes the most income of any ethnic group. ‘Any racist sentiments, speech or act needs to be vigorously condemned,’ he continued, ‘but to attack our society as systemically racist, a society that has produced the most prosperous and most harmonious racial society in human history, well that’s an insult and it’s flat out wrong.’” The reason I share his words is because his assertions that talking about race is divisive, that people who are successful are not also experiencing racism, and that systemic racism does not exist — these assertions are also made by liberal progressives here in Arlington and stand directly in the way of anti-racist progress.
- Silvia Foster-Frau, Fenit Nirappil and Amy B. Wang write “After enduring racism in silence, Atlanta-area Asian Americans speak up” (Washington Post, 3/20/21)
- Petula Dvorak writes “Attacks against Asian Americans are up. It’s time to pay attention.” (Washington Post, 3/18/21)
- Viet Thanh Nguyen and Janelle Wong write “Bipartisan political rhetoric about Asia leads to anti-Asian violence here” (Washington Post, 3/19/21)
- Robin Givhan writes “Harris’s self-evident truth” (Washington Post, 3/22/21)

- Theresa Vargas writes “The diversity failures at the nation’s best public high school led officials to make changes. More are needed.” (Washington Post, 3/17/21)
- Laura Meckler and Douglas MacMillan write “‘There has to be an accounting’: Former AT&T lawyer says company systemically overcharged neediest schools” (Washington Post, 3/18/21)
- Donna St. George, Valerie Strauss, Laura Meckler, Joe Heim and Hannah Natanson write “How the outbreak is reshaping education” (Washington Post, 3/15/21)
- Laura Meckler writes “Nearly half of schools are open full-time, survey finds” (Washington Post, 3/24/21)

- Leslie Kaufman writes “To Fight Flooding, This City Plans to Renovate — and Retreat” (Bloomberg Green, 3/9/21)
- Kelsey Tamborrino writes “The wage gap that threatens Biden’s climate plan” (Politico, 4/6/21)

- Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal writes “The Enduring Fiction of Affordable Housing” (The New Republic, 4/2/21)
- Catherine Rampell writes “Rents for the rich are plummeting. Rents for the poor are rising. Why?” (Washington Post, 3/22/21)

- Mark Guarino writes “Evanston, Ill., leads the country with first reparations program for Black residents” (Washington Post, 3/22/21)

Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Learn, Grow, and Improve

Hi Friends,

Normally I have something inspiring and cohesive to share with all of you before launching into a huge number of resources on many topics. I feel like the last few weeks since my last update have been full of springtime hope and sunshine as well as cold, dark days and nights (and losing an hour!) to remind me that we’re not “there” yet, wherever “there” is.

Please remember that “going back to normal” is something we need to let go of. We need to embrace a new normal, a new way of doing things that shows that we have learned something along the way and would like to continue learning and growing and improving. That’s what this work is about.

As some of you may know, my heart in this work is in educational equity, so I’d like to highlight the work of Jennifer DePaoli, Laura E. Hern├índez, Roberta C. Furger, and Linda Darling-Hammond, who write “A Restorative Approach for Equitable Education” (Learning Policy Institute, 3/16/21).

I feel like today’s update includes so many more topics than usual, all of them intertwined and overlapping. Check out insights below about the latest Dr. Seuss news, Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah, local events, actions, and news, and as always, resources that shed light on the systemic discrimination that our community members face every day. Thank you for continuing to engage in this work.

- The National Low Income Housing Coalition is hosting “NLIHC Virtual Housing Policy Forum 2021: A New Day” on March 30–31.
- Arlington County is requesting feedback on the “Affordable Housing Master Plan Review” by March 31. You can also learn more about Arlington’s Missing Middle Housing here.
- Challenging Racism is hosting “Challenging Racism: Continued — Voting Rights and Voter Suppression” on March 24.
- Maryland Humanities is hosting “Beyond the Statements: Leading Racial Equity in Humanities Organizations with Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan” on March 22.
- The DC Mutual Aid Network is hosting “Solidarity Saturdays: Building Community Through Mutual Aid” monthly from now through September.
- Sanctuary DMV and Free Them All VA are hosting “Donate your Stimulus Check to Migrant Families!

- Martin Austermuhle writes “All Legislation In D.C. Will Now Be Assessed For Racial Equity” (DCist, 1/27/21)
- Alexandria has a robust process in place for prioritizing vaccines for its most vulnerable populations. How does Arlington match up? You can look up vaccine demographics on the Virginia Department of Health website.
- Three core organizers from Black Lives Matter DC have started a new venture called Harriet’s Wildest Dreams. Check it out!
- APS’s DEI office has a page on its website called “Equity in Action at APS” where you can see what has been undertaken so far.
- Symone Walker writes “Ed Talk: We Need to Elect County Board Members Who Prioritize Arlington Students” (ArlNow, 3/5/21)
- Arlington For Justice hosted “Let’s Talk Tuesday- Gettin’ Lucky: Educational Equity

- Taylor Telford writes “Some Dr. Seuss books with racist imagery will go out of print” (Washington Post, 3/2/21)
- Ron Charles writes “The time is right to cancel Dr. Seuss’s racist books” (Washington Post, 3/2/21)
- I will also point back to one of my posts from March 6, 2019 that called attention to the problematic depictions in Dr. Seuss books. This has obviously been a problem longer than that.
- Michele L. Norris writes “Opinion: The royal family saga is a mirror of America” (Washington Post, 3/9/21)

- A Challenging Racism newsletter shared about Jelani Memory and his company A Kids Book About, which includes A Kids Book About Racism, A Kids Book About Systemic Racism, and A Kids Book About White Privilege, among other impactful titles.
- America & Moore have a “21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge” (2014)
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
- Margaret Sullivan writes “Some journalists are debating when it’s okay to use the n-word. But this one should be easy.” (Washington Post, 2/25/21)
- Matthew Yglesias writes “Not all ‘anti-racist’ ideas are good ones. The left isn’t being honest about this.” (Washington Post, 2/23/21)
- Michael Gerson writes “Opinion: The GOP is now just the party of white grievance” (Washington Post, 3/1/21)
- Griff Witte, Abigail Hauslohner and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux write “In the shadow of its exceptionalism, America fails to invest in the basics” (Washington Post, 3/13/21)
- Chris Moody writes “The lynching that Black Chattanooga never forgot takes center stage downtown” (Washington Post, 3/11/21)
- Ariel Aberg-Riger writes “‘Solidarity, Not Charity’: A Visual History of Mutual Aid” (CityLab, 12/22/20)
- Liz Vinson writes “History Uncovered: Virtual tour of Richmond, Va., reveals hidden suffering of Black community” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/12/21)
- Derrick Johnson and Geoffrey Starks write “We have to close the digital divide. That means internet access for everyone” (CNN, 3/9/21)
- EmbraceRace shared that its Resources are searchable by type and topic.

- Marian Liu and Rachel Hatzipanagos write “‘Nobody came, nobody helped’: Fears of anti-Asian violence rattle the community” (Washington Post, 2/25/21)

- Congratulations to Deb Haaland on being named Secretary of the Interior! The Lakota People’s Project shared “Chase and Company Dissect the Importance of Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior
- Donald Liebenson reviews Kliph Nesteroff’s We Had a Little Real Estate Problem (Washington Post, 2/22/21)
Day of Empathy Roundtable Discussion 2021 regarding criminal justice reform (shared by Lakota People’s Law Project)
- Vox hosted “How the US poisoned Navajo Nation” (10/12/20)

- Emily Holden, Caty Enders, Niko Kommenda and Vivian Ho write “More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed” (The Guardian, 2/26/21)
- Of particular interest to those serving immigrant families, the public charge rule is no longer in effect (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 3/15/21)
- Paul Schwartzman writes “How George Floyd’s death is fueling a push for affordable housing in mostly White parts of D.C.” (Washington Post, 3/1/21)
- Michael E. Ruane, Rebecca Tan and Paul Duggan write “More than 1 million coronavirus cases reported in D.C., Maryland and Virginia” (Washington Post, 3/1/21)
- Christopher Ingraham writes “Homes in poor neighborhoods are taxed at roughly twice the rate of those in rich areas, study shows” (Washington Post, 3/12/21)
- Linda Poon writes “Housing Discrimination Made Summers Even Hotter” (CityLab, 1/22/20)
- Kriston Capps and Christopher Cannon write “Redlined, Now Flooding” (CityLab, 3/15/21)
- Kriston Capps writes “To Tackle Homelessness, Santa Fe Found a Better Plan” (CityLab, 3/4/21)
- Brentin Mock writes “What It Will Take to Close the Race Gap in Home Appraisals” (CityLab, 3/3/21)
- Alexandra Villarreal writes “Undocumented Texans are reeling from last month’s storm — and they’re cut off from federal aid” (The Guardian, 3/9/21)
- Jacqueline Simmons writes “My Family’s Long-Gone Texas Land Shows How Black Wealth Is Won and Lost” (CityLab, 3/11/21)
- Jason Grotto writes “How Unfair Property Taxes Keep Black Families From Gaining Wealth” (CityLab, 3/9/21)
- Jerusalem Demsas writes “Why people are getting evicted for calling 911” (Vox, 3/15/21)
- Andre Perry writes “COLUMN: The American Rescue Plan will halve child poverty, but we haven’t won the second War on Poverty yet” (The Hechinger Report, 3/16/21)

- Gregg Gonsalves, Amy Kapczynski and David Herman write “We’ll never reach herd immunity if we don’t vaccinate more non-White people” (Washington Post, 2/26/21)
- Karen Bass, Marc Morial and Cheryl Grills write “Opinion: Vaccine hesitancy is not the problem among people of color. It’s vaccine access.” (Washington Post, 3/9/21)
- Sarah Holder writes “Mental Health Is A Matter of Public Health, Too” (CityLab, 3/3/21)
- Fola Akinnibi and Sarah Holder write “‘All the Systems Failed’: Inside America’s Mental Health Crisis” (CityLab, 3/9/21)
- Elizabeth Yuko writes “Why Are Black Communities Being Singled Out as Vaccine Hesitant?” (Rolling Stone, 3/9/21)
- Tanvi Misra writes “The Link Between Immigration Enforcement and Babies’ Health” (CityLab, 3/10/21)

- Javeria Salman writes “When students research the inequality in their own schools” (The Hechinger Report, 1/27/21)
- Jill Barshay writes “PROOF POINTS: New answers to old questions about special education” (The Hechinger Report, 2/1/21)
- Neal Morton writes “If schools don’t overhaul discipline, ‘teachers will still be calling the police on our Black students’” (The Hechinger Report, 2/1/21)
- Javeria Salman writes “How one school is coping with mental health: Social workers delivering technology, food and counseling to kids at home, and open office hours all day — even when school is out” (The Hechinger Report, 2/24/21)
- Hannah Natanson writes “A civil rights hero lacked a historical marker. Then a class of Virginia fourth-graders spoke up.” (Washington Post, 2/24/21)
- Julianne McShane writes “She’s the only Black kid in her fifth-grade class. She spoke up when slavery wasn’t included in a lesson plan.” (The Lily, 2/23/21)
- Moriah Balingit, Hannah Natanson and Yutao Chen write “As schools reopen, Asian American students are missing from classrooms” (Washington Post, 3/4/21)
- Petula Dvorak writes “Not every student is Christian. So why don’t all school districts recognize that?” (Washington Post, 3/4/21)
- Perry Stein writes “In D.C., fewer restrictions for private schools mean middle- and high-schoolers get more in-person learning” (Washington Post, 3/4/21)
- Cat Zakrzewski writes “The Technology 202: Coronavirus relief bill includes more than $7 billion to target the ‘homework gap’” (Washington Post, 3/10/21)
- Toluse Olorunnipa and Moriah Balingit write “Biden’s push for equity faces critical test amid shifting strategies to open schools” (Washington Post, 3/14/21), particularly starting with the section titled “Old inequities, compounded”
- Desiree Carver-Thomas, Melanie Leung and Dion Burns write “California Teachers and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Teacher Workforce” (Learning Policy Institute, 3/4/21)
- Andre Perry writes “Student Debt and the Disregard for the Black Middle Class” (CityLab, 3/5/21)
- The Learning Policy Institute has a series called “Education and the Path to Equity.” The most recent post is by Janel George called “Federal Action Removes Long-Standing Obstacle to School Integration” (Learning Policy Institute, 3/3/21).
- The Leading Equity Center hosted its Leading Equity podcast, Episode 181 “Why In-school Suspension is Not the Answer to School Discipline with Dr. Tracy Piper
- James Bridgeforth and Steve Desir write “OPINION: When it comes to reopening schools, it’s time for leaders to listen to Black families” (The Hechinger Report, 3/8/21)
- A group member shared the recent Virginia Equity Center study “Do Virginia Schools Teach Both Black and White Students How to Read?
- Kareem Weaver writes “A moment for humility and a new path forward on reading” (National Council on Teacher Quality, 1/28/21)
- Danielle Dreilinger writes “An Illinois district proved gifted programs can be racially diverse” (The Hechinger Report, 3/16/21)

- Samantha Schmidt writes “1 in 6 Gen Z adults are LGBT. And this number could continue to grow.” (Washington Post, 2/24/21)
- Sian Beilock writes “Why I worry remote schedules could mean fewer women in the office” (Washington Post, 3/3/21)
- Tafeni English writes “Women’s History Month: Just as in the civil rights movement, Black women are leading the way in today’s social justice activism” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/10/21)
- Equality Virginia connects the dots between anti-racism and gender justice work.

- Annie Linskey writes “Many of Biden’s nominees of color run into turbulence in the Senate” (Washington Post, 2/24/21)
- Monica Hesse writes “Rand Paul’s ignorant questioning of Rachel Levine showed why we need her in government” (Washington Post, 2/26/21)
- Ovetta Wiggins writes “How references to structural racism got cut from a Md. bill on health disparities” (Washington Post, 3/2/21)
- Rebecca Tan writes “A Latina lawmaker spoke about racism on Zoom. Over giggles, people discussed her accent.” (Washington Post, 3/3/21)
- Nancy Abudu writes “The Spirit of John Lewis: The passion and commitment of a voting rights icon call us to action” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/5/21)
- Aris Folley writes “Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia’s record turnout” (The Hill, 3/6/21)
- The Southern Poverty Law Center has released a report on “Overcoming the Unprecedented: Southern Voters’ Battle Against Voter Suppression, Intimidation, and a Virus

- Nitasha Tiku writes “Google’s approach to historically Black schools helps explain why there are few Black engineers in Big Tech” (Washington Post, 3/4/21)
- Angela R. Riley, Sonia K. Katyal and Rachel Lim write “Opinion: The Jeep Cherokee is not a tribute to Indians. Change the name.” (Washington Post, 3/7/21)
- Reed Albergotti writes “She brought diverse skin tones emoji to the iPhone. Now she’s suing Apple.” (Washington Post, 3/10/21)

- Michael J Moore writes “OPINION: Police reform is useless unless it helps those in prison, too” (The Hechinger Report, 2/26/21)
- Jim Daley writes “Killings by Police Declined after Black Lives Matter Protests” (Scientific American, 3/1/21)
- Drew Harwell writes “Home-security cameras have become a fruitful resource for law enforcement — and a fatal risk” (Washington Post, 3/2/21)
- DeVitta Briscoe writes “Opinion: I’ve lost three loved ones to gun violence. Only the one killed by police did not get justice.” (Washington Post, 3/4/21)

Onward together!

Listen. Amplify. Follow.