School Device Programs, Gun Violence, and the Opioid Epidemic

Hi Friends!
A warm welcome to our newest members, recruited from a recent Challenging Racism cohort. Thank you to one of our members for spreading the word about our group!
One of our members let me know about an event on April 26 called “Voices from Arlington: A Panel Discussion on Issues of Housing and Poverty.”
I had an interesting discussion with a friend who is focused on addressing the school district’s 1:1 device program (this is the program that provides personal Apple devices to all school district students starting in 2nd grade), which is currently under review. I asked her about equity issues since many economically disadvantaged families don’t have these kinds of devices at home already, and she said that equity issues were supposedly why the school district started the 1:1 program in the first place (which I find interesting). She also said that the health issues related to many hours of device usage are damaging enough that the policy should change to reflect research and study best practices for all students. Maryland’s General Assembly just approved a bill related to classroom screen safety, so there are some helpful examples out there. I’m going to be learning more, and I’ll keep you updated. I’d love to hear about the crossover between device access and equity if you have a perspective to add. I know that at my child’s school many families don’t have internet access at home, so that remains a barrier even when devices are available (and even wi-fi cards are not provided by the school district at adequate levels to meet the need).
I saw an opinion article in The Washington Post about how the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968 hasn’t been implemented in a way that truly addresses systemic racism in housing. I found it to be a useful rundown of how things have changed since then and how they have not.
Upcoming Meetings/Deadlines/Opportunities:
(1) SURJ NoVa April 29 meeting on Racism in the Schools. I’ll be attending and I’d love company if you’re interested.
(2) Reminder of input for Strategic Plan needed by April 19. This will significantly affect the school district’s priorities moving forward, including hiring, budget, facilities, etc. Please weigh in and give them feedback.
(3) The local School Board meeting this Thursday, April 19 will discuss the budget changes in detail, including discussion of the changes the School Board proposed to the Superintendent’s version. I am unable to attend, so please attend if you can and share back with the group.
(4) I got an update from Shaun King who co-founded Real Justice PAC (which is focusing on criminal justice and DA elections). They’re looking for people who care about injustice to get involved in local teams, no experience necessary.
Some interesting news items:
(1) Affordable housing issue in our county. If you’re interested in getting involved and speaking up to counter those who feel comfortable making this kind of comment, the next step is a meeting on April 21 with the County Board.
(2) Grappling with history — Christy Coleman is the CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond and has engaged the public on the issue of slavery in many creative ways.
(3) Federal legislation regarding public schools. This has a direct impact on inequities in the ways children of color are disciplined more often and more harshly than white children.
A couple of current things to grapple with related to privilege:
(1) Gun violence has long been a problem in disadvantaged neighborhoods. It has gained particular attention lately partially because the perpetrators and victims of school shootings are white. Children of color are far more affected by gun violence and that has not received this kind of attention so far. Sarah Ruiz-Grossman lays this out well.
(2) The opioid epidemic has been treated completely differently than the drug epidemics in the 1980s because the majority of opioid addicts are white and the majority of crack addicts then were black. The response to the problem is vastly different. (from Petula Dvorak)
There’s a lot of heavy lifting out there, friends. Make sure you’re taking time away to rest and take care of yourselves. You are not alone and others are working on these issues, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.