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Honoring Important Leaders in Progressive Education

"All instruction is culturally responsive. The question is: To which culture is it currently oriented?" - Gloria Ladson Billings

Last year, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Ms. Christina Martin, gave an important acknowledgment in her 2020 Curriculum Night speech. She pointed up the "whitewashing" of our progressive education movement's history.

We realized that we'd acclimated ourselves to reflexively and exclusively crediting John Dewey, Francis Parker, Carleton Washburne, and a small handful of other affluent, degreed, white men for our educational philosophy and practices. Gratefully, through digging deeper and more broadly into historic and contemporary leaders in education, and with help from members of our community, including experts in education and equity, including Ayanna Brown, PhD, Kate Sjostrom, PhD, Miranda Johnson, JD, and Asma Ali, PhD., we saw gaping omissions of so many important thought leaders.

The work of correcting racism starts with personal accountability and changing what we can in our own sphere of influence.

That's why we are working to correct the historical record that has oftentimes erased BIPOC people from the history of progressive education so that we can celebrate and learn from activists and educators such as Bettina Love, Anna Julia Cooper, bell hooks, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Booker T. Washington, Bob Moses, and so many others.

As part of our work, you'll find quotes from some of these leaders scattered throughout our website. We've also updated our new front hallway display on Roots of Progressive Education. This exhibit grows directly out of our faculty's work last spring with Professor Craig Kridel and his academic research on Black Progressive High Schools in the South in the 1940s - 50s.

A bulletin board might not seem like a mighty tool, but it brings these leaders and this acknowledgment into the visual range of the children at our school. It is important that we make this information available to all, including our students. It is exciting to find students studying this display, which is located by the main entry door and right outside the library. Adults can visit the space in the afternoons when students have left the building.

"Don't think necessarily of starting a movement. Do what you think actually needs to be done, set an example, and hope your actions will click with someone else." - Bob Moses


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