“When I say antiracist education, I am talking about equipping students, parents, and teachers with the tools needed to combat racism and ethnic discrimination, and to find ways to build a society that includes all people on an equal footing”. – –ENID LEE
In 2020, during an already unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic- the country, and possibly the world was uprooted after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and others. As a result of the unfortunate events, companies began taking stances against racist practices, vowing to put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their organization, while adopting anti-racist policies.
While Frayser Community Schools has always condemned racism–after the unfortunate incidents that shifted the way many companies decided to do business–we knew that we couldn’t go back to business as usual. As an organization that serves a majority black student demographic, we felt morally obligated to examine our practices as an organization while also shedding light on the systemic racism and inequity that is pervasive in the educational system as a whole.
The FCS network team began holding collaborative meetings to focus specifically on our anti-racist agenda—to ensure we can be a part of the solution in addressing racist practices in education.
The FCS Anti-Racism Initiative is our effort to address and disrupt an unjust educational system and racist practices in hopes of creating equitable opportunities and outcomes for black students and students of color.
Black students are more likely to get suspended than white students. What has been called the “school-to-prison pipeline” often starts in the principal’s office and ends in prison, with school suspensions increasing the risk that black boys, in particular, end up incarcerated or drop out of school. FCS will ensure that we focus on “restorative practices,” instead of “punitive practices.” This includes the elimination of law enforcement officers in schools along with a new “no expulsions” policy- that will ensure students aren’t suspended for minor infractions.
In a trauma-informed school, the adults within the school community are prepared to recognize and respond to students who have been impacted by traumatic stress. Our schools will implement a layered approach to create an environment with clear behavior expectations for everyone, open communication, and sensitivity to the feelings and emotions of others. This includes the hiring of a restorative justice specialist and enlisting community partners focused specifically on Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Parent Engagement and Advocacy
Parents are vital to student success. Despite this, many schools have failed at gaining the trust and providing a level of hospitatlity to black families. Our schools will be intentional in creating spaces for parents to feel welcomed, while also providing them with the resources needed to become advocates
in their child’s education .