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From DEI to Antiracist

Katie Culver, Carissa Casey — EQuientric Consulting, the School District of Philadelphia, Westover School

While we continually discuss and advocate for DEI work and multicultural education, and are making strides in uncovering oppressive systems in classrooms, we seem to overlook or avoid two major strategies that would move the needle towards antiracist action in dismantling oppressive systems, structures and practices at the school level. The first obstacle to progress is status quo leadership–a reluctance to turn the lens inward to examine our own leadership practices which may inadvertently reinforce oppression and inequity. The second obstacle is the inability to recognize ingrained, status quo pedagogical, assessment, organizational and disciplinary practices that perpetuate oppression and racism. In this session, we hope to have a discussion that illuminates where we might be stuck in schools, where DEI work might derail antiracist action, what is working and how students are thriving. Participants will collectively generate innovative, critical actions to address unjust practices that do not serve the best interest of students.

Conversational Practice

In this session, we will start by prompting the audience to answer questions that may seem obvious or simple, but as was found in a previous session, there was significant power in naming things such as: What are the many causes of school inequity? Where do we see examples of racism in schools? Why do we allow racism to persist in schools? How can we hold leadership, schools and districts accountable? What improved outcomes do we hope for with the new organizational and leadership changes within SDP?
After recording answers, concrete ideas around increased antiracist leadership capacity and overall activism will be developed and any successful strategies/experiences shared. Participants will consider data that substantiate racism in education; they will think critically about their own educational practices and continued professional development; they will connect with other educators who want to work for antiracist education; and they will collaborate and develop strategies to identify and combat racist practices and policies in their school spaces. The efficacy of efforts such as letter-writing, attending school board meetings, attending meetings in Harrisburg, student letter-writing campaigns, and local, peaceful organizing will be explored and hopefully expanded upon.

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