Education Reform Is Impossible Without Addressing Racism
Let’s face it, race inequity may not be a deliberate goal of education policy and practice (or maybe it is) but neither is it accidental. The result is a whole lot of seemingly well-meaning people trying to evoke change in an education system that never intended to educate people of color in the first place. Educational institutions are places that actively reproduce ways of thinking, feeling, believing, and acting that work to the advantage of white students. If we want to “reform” education, it requires that we acknowledge and dismantle the power structures that are embedded in the system.
The conversation has to begin with the assertion that many teachers and teacher educators reflect internalized deficit assumptions about students of color. Teachers are gatekeepers to learning and they can empower their students to challenge our nation’s ideology about black and brown inferiority. Teachers can be led either to continue to project racism in their classrooms, or to build their capacity to challenge institutional racism that is affirmed, appropriated, or resisted within their school site. Engaging educators in the process of building an anti-racist movement for public education creates solidarity that is not separated by race but explored and appreciated in order to better understand the way power works.