George Floyd’s death — the public and merciless way he died and the historical and contemporary context that led to his murder — has dealt a blow to the Black community and its children. These same children will return to school this fall traumatized not only by the effects of COVID-19, but by living in a socio-cultural context that, until this moment, has reinforced the false narrative that their lives do not matter.
Their lives do matter! Their lives matter to their parents, families, and friends. Their lives, their education, and the contributions they will and can make to our democratic society matter. Black lives matter to Center for Responsive Schools.
In 2017, our Board of Directors adopted a Resolution on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity to solidify its commitment to doing work that is relevant to, respects, and reflects the diversity of the children in schools everywhere.
If every child in every school is to feel safe, respected, and significant and that they belong, in school and if every child is to experience dignity, hope, autonomy, and competence in school, then Black children must return to schools in which they can feel this way as well. We know that almost all educators want to create conditions for Black children to thrive and to provide a joyful and hope-filled schooling experience for them. Many of these educators rely on us to provide them with the support and resources to do just that.
As we enter our 40th year of delivering Responsive Classroom, an SEL approach to teaching and discipline that has influenced and changed teachers’ ability to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms across the United States and the world, we know that we cannot rest on our laurels. We know we must support educators so that the power of this watershed moment, which is ushering in a new awareness and will to recognize and stop the effects of racism on the learning and schooling experience of Black children, is not lost. We know that we must continue to undertake development and publication activities that form a tighter alignment to our Resolution on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Our first new step in that direction is Fly Five, The Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum, which is designed to represent the beautiful diversity of children in schools everywhere because we know representation matters.
We have heard those of you who are asking us now, “Can we count on you in this time to support us?” Our answer is yes. We honor both our responsibility and educators’ expectation for us to support them as they do the hard work of ensuring that every iota of racism is stripped from their schools and classrooms and to support them as they grow in creating schools and classrooms that are anti-racist, because these are the places where learning is truly joyful. We recognize the hard work that this will take and we are rolling up our sleeves and stand ready to support and work with you.
We believe teaching is the most important work in the world. We believe in teachers. Today, we see and hear your desire to know that we will be a reliable support for you as you take a stand to change the narrative. Lasting change cannot happen without you and we are here for you.
Dr. Lora Hodges, Executive Director
Center for Responsive Schools’ Board of Directors and Staff