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

TCS Faculty Learn More About the History
of Black Educators in Progressive Education

At our recent faculty Institute Day on 4.16.21, we met with Craig Kridel, Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, as well as Curator Emeritus of its Museum of Education. Kridel is the author of two books that guided the topic of our conversation (click images below to read them online!):

Progressive Ed in Black High Schools Cov
Becoming and African American Progressiv

What fascinated us was how innovative and community driven these early progressive schools were, and how their approach adapted to the severe demands black youth were under in the 1940s. Craig Kridell observed that parents of the day collectively agreed: "We love our children and we know what they need because we know what they are going to face."

 

We balanced their perspectives against the natural gulf of assumptions and understandings white educators face when teaching children of color in today's social framework.

This Spring's Institute Day is part of our professional development work in educational equity as well as helping to correct the exclusion of black educators from progressive education's rich history.

"Voices in Black and White:"

A Student's Documentary
and Capstone Project

 

A unique feature of our 8th Grade program is the Capstone Project. Each student chooses, plans, researches, and executes an in-depth project on a topic of their choosing that they present at the end of the semester.
 

Below is a short film exploring bi-racial identity created and produced by Liv, an 8th-Grade student at The Children's School:
 

"For my 8th-grade capstone project, I created a documentary about being biracial. I am a biracial girl myself, so this project was made to help me figure out who I was, and to share the voices of the biracial community to others. It involves voices from biracial women sharing their experiences being biracial, and not just being biracial, but being biracial women. They share challenges, stereotypes and successes of being biracial, and what life is like for them and their families."

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.

Equity cartoon.png

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!

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.

Watch a recording of our recent online speaker panel event below: The Role of Schools in Promoting Racial and Social Justice.

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

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. 

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Anti-Racism Video Playlist