10 Demands For Radical Education Transformation
Our nation is currently standing at the crossroad - how we respond as individuals and a collective will be a major determining factor for whether or not the radical changes needed to address the white supremacy and structural racism that lies at the very core of our country occurs. Our response will determine whether or not the calls and demands made by those taking to the streets will actually lead to justice.
We as educators, especially those of us who are white, have an ethical obligation to our students, their families, and society in general to fully embrace the deep and at times difficult work and the daily process of becoming antiracist and fighting for racial justice. Because of this, we have crafted the following demands which will begin to promote racial justice in the school system of Philadelphia.
10 Demands For Radical Education Transformation - Explained
We demand school-based Bias and Racial Equity Boards, with a process for protecting students and staff who report racism and discrimination.
Establish Bias and Racial Equity Boards at every school that exist outside of administrative control.
Develop a reporting process for students and staff who have experienced racism, bias, or discrimination (which includes but is not limited to Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny) in school.
Create clear policies that protect students and staff for reporting violations including updated language in Policy 248 that clearly states consequences for staff that do not report such incidents.
We demand implementation and funding of Restorative Justice and Trauma Responsive practices in schools, which includes increased funding for school counselors, social workers, and mental health counselors, and abolishing school police officers.
Implement more trauma-focused school initiatives with fidelity.
Utilize funding for cops to hire more counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals. The goal should be a counselor per every 250 children.
Have trauma and crisis response teams clearly defined and identified in every school that are properly trained in protective restraint measures and can de-escalate school conflicts.
We demand that Special Education programs include whole-child approaches to testing and identification so that students with exceptionalities receive a fair and equitable education. This should include robust SPED training and supports for all school staff.
Schools should be monitored for disproportionality in special education diagnosis and program placement.
Schools need to be staffed in such a way that students are able to be present in their federally mandated least restrictive environments.
Schools should implement or reinforce “gifted programs” in every public school.
Students in special education classes should be placed in settings that have proper equipment, appropriate safety measures, and cleanliness.
We demand that trans, queer, and gender non-conforming students and staff be affirmed in their expression and protected from discrimination. The full implementation of policy #252 must be enforced at every level, including ongoing, regular training for all school leaders and staff members.
As stated in Policy 252, students should be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity in all interactions between them and school staff.
Students and staff should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
The board should create and monitor a reporting system made constantly available and publicized to students. Students should have the choice to remain anonymous and there should be text-based options.
All school leaders and staff members should receive regular ongoing training in the best ways to implement these policies and support members of the LGBTQ+ community.
We demand equitable hiring practices, including the recruitment and retention of Black Educators and Educators of Color. Increase the pay of Paraprofessionals and develop fully-funded pathways for them to become teachers.
Implement programs with fidelity that will increase the number of Black Educators and Educators of Color in schools.
Cultivate more programs that begin recruitment of Black Educators and Educators of Color in High School.
Increase the pay of Paraprofessionals, so they can make a living wage.
Cultivate more programs that help Paraprofessionals become certified teachers.
Reinstitute a tracking and quota-based system that ensures administration is making concerted efforts to increase the diversity of its school staff.
We demand Culturally Responsive Curriculum for every subject. This includes Ethnic, NativeAmerican/Indigenous, and Black studies courses at every level with commitment and intentionality.
Implement a required Indigenous Studies Course for all students in K-12.
Implement an Ethnic Studies Course K-12 (Curriculum)
Follow Through with an African American History Course K-12 (Curriculum)
As stated in School District of Philadelphia Policy Section 102, Multiracial-Multicultural-Gender Education (August 2004), the policy of the School District is to foster knowledge about and respect for those of all races, ethnic groups, social classes, genders, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations (perceived or known) and gender identities (perceived or known). We demand this be enforced.
We demand mandatory antiracist training for all educators and that school leaders have standardized measurable plans and goals for cultural competencies of staff, integrating racial literacy into mandated teacher planning expectations, and at the individual school level looking at trends related to school discipline, staff demographics, and academic access.
Require ongoing, annual antiracist training for all District and Charter staff (including classroom teachers, classroom assistants, principals, and all climate staff, school police, recruiters, etc.) that encourages them to reflect on their own racial identities, recognize implicit bias, and challenge systemic inequality in order to better serve students in Philadelphia.
Dissolve the implementation of uniform policies which strips students of their cultural identity and is not equally enforced throughout the city of Philadelphia.
We demand non-toxic schools that are clean, free of pests, lead, asbestos, and safe for students.
No child should be in a building where there are asbestos, lead, and mold risks.
Ensure that building engineers are adequately equipped to deal with rodents and outsource in order to ensure a pest-free school.
Regular reporting from an outside agency about the safety of school buildings as pertaining to lead, asbestos, and mold.
We demand equitable access to all learning institutions and tracks (Magnet schools, AP/IB, and honors courses) for students and opportunities for Black Educators & Educators of Color to teach those classes.
Due to Black students being underrepresented in Philadelphia’s magnet schools, at least 20 to 25% of the seats should be reserved for Black students within the neighborhood.
Magnet schools & Magnet/IB programs should start buddy programs with local neighborhood Middle Schools to promote preparation for matriculation at the school.
Magnet schools & Magnet/IB programs should be forced to track race data for applicants to ensure they reach a threshold of at least 25% for Black students.
Any students that deny Black, Indigenous or Latino students from AP, IB, or Magnet programs within schools based on personal preference should be appropriately disciplined.
All students should have the opportunity to apply for IB/AP/Magnet courses after being explained the rigors of the course.
No student should be prevented from testing in AP or IB courses because of fees.
We demand that the School Board endorse the Black Lives Matter Week of Action at Schools and remove any members who have a history of public racism and bias.
As a show of good faith, the school board should endorse and publicize Black Lives Matter Week of Action at Schools as a week that uplifts the voices of Black students and educators.
The school board and the Mayor’s office need a clear publicized system to remove members who have a history of public racism and bias.