Social Justice
and equity News

Here's where you'll find the latest news, notes, and activities related to social justice initiatives at The Children's School.

In the Classroom

Black History is American History
(excerpt from Mr. Will Hudson's 6th/7th Grade Newsletter)

 

And just like American history, like any life for that matter, there are struggles, but there are also triumphs. It is important to recognize and honor struggle, but we must also elevate and celebrate triumph. As a class, we will be celebrating Black History Month by focusing on the triumph of Black lives and culture through films and documentaries that center Black stories, protagonists, and directors.

 

We began the week by watching this TED talk with the founders of Black Lives Matter - Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometti. If you haven’t seen it, take a moment to listen to these powerful women talk about their ideas and vision on leadership, liberation, and the importance of getting involved.

 

On Friday, we finished the documentary, “Tell Them We Are Rising”. This film explored the history, rise, and influence of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a history that, for me, was largely unknown. I learned a great deal watching this film, it gave me a lot to think about, and I encourage you all to check it out.

 

On Monday, we will begin watching the movie “Drumline”. This film comes highly recommended for its positive messages and the Black college experience and culture that is prevalent throughout. This film is rated PG-13. If you have any questions about whether this movie would be appropriate for your child, I find that Common Sense Media provides some good reviews and recommendations from parents and kids.

 

As a class, we also discussed the notion of using different frames or lenses to think and talk about the world. Frames and lenses help bring experiences or perspectives into focus or highlight things we feel are important or are proud of. As we are enjoying these films, I will be trying to utilize the Middle / High School version of the Black Lives Matter 13 Guiding Principles as a lens for class discussions and writing prompts. 

UPCOMING TCS EQUITY EVENTS

We're working to set up virtual events and meetings to continue our TCS Equity Relaunch. Stay tuned here and on our Facebook page for more info.

Ongoing - Wednesday Evenings

Join our TCS Parent/Teacher Anti-Racism Discussion Group.  Contact cmartin@tcsconnect.org for details.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

7:00 - 8:15 pm

Panel Discussion on
"Promoting Racial Justice in Schools."

Coming Soon - April 2021

Teacher Presentation on

"Reading for Social Justice with Children"

Exploring Anti-Racism and Democratic Ideals (excerpt from Ms. Mitchell's 8th-Grade newsletter)


Our study of U.S. history and government, which focuses on our country’s founding documents and their impact on law, society, and political institutions, is well under way. Students reviewed and refined their knowledge about the British colonies in North America and the events leading up to the Revolutionary War before diving into a reading of the Declaration of Independence. They learned about Prince Hall, a free Black abolitionist living in Boston who drew on the language of the Declaration to petition the Massachusetts legislature for emancipation. We are asking: What does it mean to assert that people are born free and equal in rights?

 

Students’ reading of Stamped earlier this year helps provide important context for understanding these and other events of U.S. history. I am eager for students to return to its themes and further explore ways in which the realization of democratic ideals has depended on, and continues to depend on, the work of Black activists and leaders in our country. Next week, students will be choosing an activist, politician, writer, artist, scientist, or other notable American of African descent to research for Black History Month. Biography is an important pathway into history for young people; it humanizes events, stirs their interest and sympathy, and gives them role models to inspire them in their own lives. Students will present their research findings, and we will update our U.S. history timeline to identify examples of antiracist action and resistance to oppression in American history. 

Information on our TCS Equity Initiative


As a community, we are currently focusing on improving ethnic and racial equity in our educational environment. Our community chose the following definition of equity to guide our work:

 

"In an equitable community, each person is seen and valued with
acknowledgment of historical inequities and their impacts."

We are also mindful of other equity matters, and have not set them aside - such as issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, differing abilities, and other concerns. We welcome input and action on those points as well. Focusing on ethnic and racial issues primarily at this time is so that we can take action steps that make tangible improvements in those areas more swiftly. Such action will hopefully inform us on how to address other equity issues more effectively as well.

Our Middle-Level Social Justice League Thanksgiving Email

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Listen to Ms. Christina Martin in the video: "Progressive Education in a Covid/Black Lives Matter World

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We invite everyone in our TCS community - faculty, parents, students, board, alumni, and staff -- to choose whichever meetings, events, committees, or lanes of interest appeal you, and to jump in or jump out whenever you wish. Please know that we welcome you to get involved at whatever level of depth, and whatever amount of time suits your interest and schedule - even if it's just briefly or a little bit, or even just sitting in on one meeting to see what we're up to. 

We've put in place a five-lane approach to our action on equity, so that everyone can pick an that interests them. You are welcome to participate in more than one area, or jump in and jump out of a lane whenever you like. Here are our five lanes of activity:

 

  1. Equity Programming for TCS Families
    We envision parent/guardian-led group organizing equity programming through events/outings that families attend together. We’ll take advantage of the plethora of cultural and arts events available in the Chicagoland area, as opposed to creating our own events in-house. This allows us to seek out rich, authentic cultural experiences and support and make connections with groups doing that work.
     

  2. Informational Programming at TCS for our Local Community
    We want an administration-led group, supported by parents/guardians with connections to universities and cultural institutions and other experts. We’ll create workshops/talks/events around equity issues. We can position TCS as a public forum where experts come to talk about equity issues
     

  3. Student Activism/Leadership 
    We'd like a middle-level student-led group, with the help of parent and faculty advisors to bring forth student-initiated ideas and programming on equity.
     

  4. Hiring for Greater Equity
    Our administration/faculty group will continue to work on attracting, hiring, and retaining non-white teachers to achieve more diverse representation on our faculty/staff.
     

  5. Structural Changes to Promote Equity
    We'd like an administration/faculty-led group to consider possible structural changes to achieve greater equity. We’ll work with proposals such as an earlier start time to the school day to better support working parents/guardians, or making our meetings more accessible to parents with young children.
     

  6. Teacher Training, Support, Initiatives
    A faculty-driven working group to create support, professional development opportunities and initiatives around equity in an educational environment.
     

  7. Curriculum
    Re-examining our curriculum, our social justice curricular goals, and identifying ways to improve it in terms of equity. 

We are also not wedded to this structure. If anyone has great ideas for more lanes of interest, or another term besides "lanes," or if we modify our definitions and goals as we grow on our equity journey -- that's great!

TCS CURRICULUM to COmmunity

Connections: 


Things for Families to check out, local events, etc.

Help us add links to online learning resources (during this time of social distancing) that are social justice and equity focused, and appropriate for students and their families!

We will post links here!

Justice Cards!

Ms. Danielle Cruz reports that our 3rd graders are once again working on "Justice Cards." This popular project features student-created cards with social justice heroes modeled after Pokemon and other game cards. 

Where we are now in our equity work would not be possible without years of foundation laid by our "JUST DREAM" committee. One of the projects they completed is the following tool kit, which provides comprehensive resources and links to a variety of equity-related topics.

Anti-Racism Video Playlist

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