Identifying Whiteness and Speaking Up For All Students

Hi Friends!
The news has been overwhelming (still/again) — I hope you can take the time for self-care and news breaks so you can still focus on the good work that needs to be done.
IntegratedSchools has been hard at work, running a book club and creating a new Parent-to-Parent Program for experienced families to support families considering integration. Find out more here.
A story in the Washington Post recently highlighted the dangers of the proposed changes to the public charge law.
On a whim, I contacted the school district and the County about changing the County/Schools calendar to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, as many jurisdictions have already done. If you feel like adding your voice, please feel free to do so. Here’s an article with some background and history.
I saw an amazingly perfect image circulating on social media that reads: “White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard; it means that your skin color isn’t one of the things making it harder.”
Fall might actually be here! If you’re planning on taking any fall-related excursions, consider Cox Farms. If you’re not already familiar, Cox Farms is a wonderful family-run business that also has a very strong social justice streak, including most recently inviting the Challenging Racism team to participate in their employee training process last month. Here’s an example of some of their values.
I heard from a neighbor about a local non-profit called The Clothesline, which provides clothing for school aged kids free twice a year. They’re always looking for donations!
Ibram X. Kendi is speaking at George Mason’s Fall for the Book Festival on October 11 at 3 pm on “Understanding Racism in America.” For more information, go here. He’s also working on a new book due out next year!
An IntegratedSchools update includes a story about Austin, TX, which is segregated east/west and which has a strong parent contingent pushing for integration via rezoning, investments in east side schools, and embracing integration as a value. Families there are motivated to the point of asking for school board members’ resignations and suggesting that a lawsuit might follow if the quality of education is not made equal for all students. Read more here and there are other encouraging stories about integration efforts elsewhere in the country.
Robin DiAngelo wrote a great piece for NBC News about racial illiteracy for whites and how that perpetuates a white supremacist system. Whiteness must be named. Try changing the way you speak about people, especially to your children, even if it’s just in the books you read. For example, in Brown Bear Brown Bear, all of the colors and the animals are named, except the teacher — she’s just a teacher, even though she has white skin. Try “White teacher, white teacher, what do you see?” instead — notice how weird that is? Notice how much that could change everything?
Many of you have probably heard the news about the County Manager’s report of a significant budget shortfall this coming year, making next year harder than this year. Of course, this will also affect the schools, and the Superintendent is projecting a $43 million deficit this coming year, more than was projected. We’re going to need to raise our voices, support higher taxes (for example), and really push our community to find long-term solutions to our growth rather than picking away each year at essential services.
The Elementary School Boundaries process is going to be heavy this fall. I wasn’t able to attend or watch live the meeting last week (the power was out!). The latest information is posted and your input is needed before October 9. Please look carefully at the School Level Data Table to see how the F/R lunch population is being shifted (or not) and to which schools (if you really love data, check out the Planning Unit Level Data). Please speak up to support integration as much as possible while balancing what is best for the county as a whole. Note that some of the schools are significantly reducing their low-income population while other schools are staying the same or increasing that population. How can we find a balance? The School Board and school district are going to hear a lot from families concerned about their individual planning units — I’m encouraging all of us to try to take a county-wide approach and an equity approach for all students when we provide feedback.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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