User's comment:

Her e-mail to every ELA & Reading teacher in the district, verbatim:

Moving on...this is going to be a long one. I've given you a break on the long emails lately and I've had some time to think. There are no action steps in what follows other than read it and to do some thinking, so if you need to stop reading now and come back to this at a later time when you're in the head space to take it all in, give yourself permission to do that.

Recently, we all engaged in a PD session on CRE, with a specific focus on the Three Core Tensions, the Inadequacy of Colorblindness, Racialized Outcomes, and Black Lives Matter as a movement. I hope that you found this time valuable, and you took something away from the presentation and subsequent discourse with your colleagues. I thought you might find it useful to learn more about how our department responded to the question in the exit ticket that asked is this work important to you, why or why not. You can find what your 52 of your colleagues offered here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/11pEmflnLpUziUs1JWHNneoi4fsGfCPG8yL3nltV2oik/edit?usp=sharing.

As I always do, I took much away from this time with you. As you know, we've been working on the intersection of racialized outcomes, educational equity and instructional practice for quite some time in our department. (MS Reading, I'm coming, I swear.) We have and will continue to engage in discussions about race, because the more you talk about race, the more you can talk about race. We will continue to normalize these discussions because it is a path to justice.

I am currently reading Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism. In the Introduction, the authors make a point of saying that their text focuses exclusively on racial bias, not because other forms of bias are less important, but because in their experience, when "people consider race within the context of multiple identities, they often avoid it or give it a very light touch at best." In other words, when given the opportunity to focus on intersectionality - where race meets gender, sexual identity, poverty, disability, ethnicity, etc., - people tend to gravitate to "other othering" for a host of reasons for which I am casting no judgment. You've heard me say our system is racist and we are the system. There is no racism without racists, but what this text is offering is the opportunity to compartmentalize the difference between racism with malicious intent, which is I think what many of us think of when we think of racists and why that might position us on the defensive, and the concept of an unconscious racial bias that lives in everyone and how that bias, when unchecked, leads to the outcomes we have. It is through exploring the latter, self-monitoring the latter, and naming the latter when we see it, that we can perhaps move to and through a continuum from racism to non-racism to anti-racism, which is a major part of my vision for our department. If you are finding yourself experiencing a personal tension at this notion, I just ask you reflect on that, and remember one of the norms we established - try not to take it personally.

Another pathway to justice is that of Educational Equity, which as we define it, is a student's right to grade-level text and task through the lens of the standards. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is where our practice influences our outcomes. The professional development I have led with you for the past several years has focused on this work. I thought maybe it might be helpful for me to recap the work we've done in those sessions in order to internalize the whole picture as I intended you to when I planned them because it is up to you to connect and make sense of the 30,000 foot view philosophy and pedagogy work with that of the practitioner, boots on the ground work. And also, it feels like a million years ago that we did a lot of this. I included the actual presentations and resources for the few of you who missed some or all of the work, but I'm not asking you to do anything with it except have access to it or refresh your memory if so inclined.

AHS:

January 2019 - The CSDA BoE adopts a district equity policy.
https://go.boarddocs.com/ny/albany/Board.nsf/files/BBLP7L5691CF/$file/0050%20Equity%20in%20Education%20Policy%20(1).pdf
March 2019 - Educational Equity (Kate Gerson's Keynote Address)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQuSh2qbU58&t=335s - we watched starting at 31:35
May 2019 - Educational Equity, Building Background Knowledge and Academic Vocabulary (Davy Crockett Mystery Letter)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1skPJLS21ofrfayAyxyfyQ31mdjqL6QJQEcK8rIFNwQo/edit?usp=sharing
September 2019 - Educational Equity, Instructional Framework, and CRE as a pathway to Student Voice & Choice (Elevator Speeches)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1dFXbo3a9PcVPox9mnGfSUumogWSaY0s-zda2vVpbX7I/edit?usp=sharing
November 2019 - Educational Equity & Text Complexity (Equity Literacy Article and 4 Corners Activity - Declaration of Sentiments)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RdKWivfrzyBTyFqDLkP7O2GJRAEau93Gtk1fCRQKTxE/edit?usp=sharing
Equity Literacy for All - Gorski (article attached)
November & December 2019 - Educational Equity, Text Complexity, Task Complexity, and Text-Dependent Questions (Text Complexity Article and Chavez Speech)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1sNF1blnQOdzOX7-h7emsZY2uw19cOeyonKDykBi_Uv0/edit?usp=sharing
http://www.standardsinstitutes.org/sites/default/files/material/06-lwf_cjf_text_complexity_final_0_2.pdf
May 2020 - Unwrapping the Next Generation Standards & Text-Dependent Questions (Question Stems)
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eu2KnjOnpogt6JuBSy4mIQWNOv5FXhoUuX7uXl-iTH8/edit?usp=sharing
September 2020 - Student Engagement & Student Voice in a Virtual World
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ZMyt5LQ3XE-pXuqp-7wXg09WPlUqIbtEUS4K3zrjSvc/edit?usp=sharing


MS ELA:

January 2019 - The CSDA BoE adopts a district equity policy.
https://go.boarddocs.com/ny/albany/Board.nsf/files/BBLP7L5691CF/$file/0050%20Equity%20in%20Education%20Policy%20(1).pdf
Spring 2019: Studio Classroom - focus on standards-aligned instruction, questioning, and feedback
October 2019 - Educational Equity & Text Complexity (Equity Literacy Article and 4 Corners Activity - Declaration of Sentiments)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1k3D8JcQWKo22g_pOhuPN3wyglFZ6jce92zEvOvD4JbI/edit?usp=sharing
Equity Literacy for All - Gorski (article attached)
November 2019 - Educational Equity, Text Complexity, Task Complexity, and Text-Dependent Questions (White Privilege World Cafe, Text Complexity Article, Chavez Speech, and Text-Dependent Questions)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1voA0S7eCLEWZJMrn0roA0tGiSpbif7zLyC7ACH8UVFY/edit?usp=sharing
http://www.standardsinstitutes.org/sites/default/files/material/06-lwf_cjf_text_complexity_final_0_2.pdf
January 2019 - Educational Equity, Building Background Knowledge and Academic Vocabulary (Kate Gerson Speech/Text-Dependent Questions & Davy Crockett Mystery Letter)
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1U9K2yLa6r_eq9W8HAyoANG98-lHCUJcMpgoMTpc649A/edit?usp=sharing
September 2020 - Student Engagement & Student Voice in a Virtual World
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ZMyt5LQ3XE-pXuqp-7wXg09WPlUqIbtEUS4K3zrjSvc/edit?usp=sharing

Some of you asked in the survey, when are we going to do the actual work? As one of your leaders in this regard, I'm here to tell you that you have been all along. We may have far to go, but we most certainly aren't starting from scratch. All the work we've done around the standards, text complexity, task complexity and text-dependent questions, diversifying text selection, academic discourse through the lens of questioning, feedback, and shifting power structures in our classrooms by foster a sense of students and text as authority rather than teachers, building text sets to support background knowledge and academic vocabulary has been with this goal of achieving educational equity in mind, as is all the work we are on the brink of relative to interrupting whitewashed narratives of particular texts by exploring them through the core principles of disrupting text (https://disrupttexts.org/core-principles/). We may be hanging on for dear life right now in many ways, but that does not erase what you've already accomplished, nor does it prevent us from accomplishing even more as we methodically take our next steps.

I will close with this. There is no silver bullet. No magic formula. No technical solution. This work requires messy, hard, uncomfortable adaptive skill and will. It is up to us - the collective us, and the individuals that comprise us - to do the hard work. To do our own reading, our own thinking, our own learning. To learn more about the institutional racism that has historically permeated systems such as housing, health care, law enforcement and the courts, employment, and yes, education, and how that affects our students. To challenge each other through discourse. To check ourselves when we are experiencing discomfort and ask ourselves the hard questions about the origin of that discomfort - mirrors are so much harder than windows. To adequately prepare lessons that thoughtfully and purposefully engage students in discussions of race, injustice, and inequity and lift their voices, bringing them to the center of all we do, while we also take the same time to help students cultivate a sense of agency, pride, and joy in being black in America. To consciously shift power structures in our classrooms to chip away at the hierarchies that maintain the status quo. It is not on the black and brown children we serve, nor is it on our colleagues of color to educate us, though certainly, from them we can learn so much. We have to do the work.

I have never believed in you more than I do now, even though I know this year is taking its toll on all of us. Your responses to the survey tell me that even though I know you are justifiably in various stages of struggle, that this matters to you, overwhelmingly, on behalf of our students. And so, we will do what we always do. We will rise to the occasion and we will be better tomorrow than we are today. I'm so damn proud of you.

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Submitted: Jul 07, 2021