There’s a compelling argument that the pandemic had a bright side for parents of school-age children: it provided a window into what their teachers were asking students to advocate for under the guise of curriculum. With children at home in remote classes, parents had a front-row seat to the pervasive adoption of radical coursework like the Marxist-inspired critical race theory.
But what about school administrators?
A well-circulated video of a young Virginia teacher tearfully resigning recently in front of her school board brought the notion of mandated curriculum to the forefront of the national debate over what was happening in America’s schools.
A parent in Atlanta filed a federal complaint against her child’s school last week when she discovered what she alleges was a practice of segregating students by race in her child’s school. That effort was led, the parent says, by the school’s principal.
Kila Posey, who filed a federal complaint against Mary Lin Elementary School, claims principal Sharyn Briscoe – who is also black – told her that she put the practice in place because she thought it was in the best interest of the students.
Recalling her conversation with Briscoe, Posey said: ‘(Briscoe) said that’s not one of the Black classes, and I immediately said, “What does that mean?” I was confused.
‘I asked for more clarification. I was like, “We have those in the school?” And she proceeded to say, “Yes. I have decided that I’m going to place all of the black students in two classes.”
‘We’ve lost sleep like trying to figure out why would a person do this,’ Posey told the news outlet. ‘First, it was just disbelief that I was having this conversation in 2020 with a person that looks just like me — a black woman. It’s segregating classrooms. You cannot segregate classrooms. You can’t do it.’
An effort in Minnesota, while not directly tied to either the Virginia or Georgia examples, may offer some insight into how the focus on new and radical curriculum and teaching practices has taken hold in public schools.
Over 160 principals and assistant principals in the Twin Cites metro area have signed onto a statement called “Making Good Trouble in Education” that demands dedication to “de-centering whiteness” and “dismantling practices that reinforce white academic superiority.” The statement grew out of a coalition called the Good Trouble Principles that encourages principals and administrators to get into “good trouble” as a way to combat racism in schools.
The group is primarily organized through social media and appears to encourage keeping a spreadsheet of those who would challenge their efforts:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A GOOD TROUBLE PRINCIPAL?
Principals and Assistant Principals in the Metro Area of Minnesota who chose to join the group can do so via the Facebook page of the same name. They can choose to sign the statement via a spreadsheet that is kept collectively by all of us. These principals are declaring that their walk and talk will align with the statement below. And that they will hold themselves, and others, accountable to such.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US?
Principals in this group are organized into project management groups that are unpacking and addressing the action items named in the statement. Each month, each signing principal will record their efforts of Good Trouble, their challenges and challengers, and will share strategies for surviving and thriving. And each month, this website will serve as our reporting out place for our communities to hold us accountable to the covenant we signed our names to.
The most troubling aspect is that the principals principles, on their face, seem to advocate racism rather than attempt to alleviate it, while demanding administrators work as activists rather than educators. Here are a few of the suggestions:
De-centering Whiteness. Understanding that traditional organized whiteness ensures domination through forms like PTAs and Unions. We purposefully call out and lift up historically non-represented voices of color in our spaces to hold weight and power.
Dismantling practices that reinforce White academic superiority like bias in testing and the labeling, tracking and clustering that reflect an Americanized version of a caste system in our schools.
Reconstructing “school” upon our full in-person returns where business-as-usual, like schedules and staffing, are open to drastic changes. and engaging in that preparatory work now.
Speaking truth to power. Where our commitment to holding ourselves and those who serve under us accountable to this work is just as importantly extended to those who serve over us.
There’s no direct link — yet — to efforts like the one in Minnesota and other states where teachers have resigned in protest or have called out the practices of school administrators. But it’s difficult not to notice the similarities.