To the Editor:
In a recent blog post (“‘Teachers Cannot Be Silent': How Educators Are Showing Up for Black Students Following Protests,” June 1, 2020), it was noted that several educators were coming up with innovative ways to reach out to their students following the killing of George Floyd.
As a Black educator, I often think of ways that I can advocate for my students. Reading this blog post highlighted the necessity of culturally responsive and relevant education. While it is definitely a teachable moment in our classrooms, we cannot lose the momentum that this movement has provided us. Quite frequently, teachable moments remain within the realm of the moment.
As we reflect on our 2020 virtual learning experiences with our students, I hope that we can look back and realize it was this moment that actually led to great changes in curricular choices nationwide. When I discuss the George Floyd killing with my students, I find myself wanting to share more about the institution of systemic racism. I ponder what changes I can make in my own curriculum for the foreseeable future.
While U.S. history class may present the most obvious opportunity for discussions and lessons on historical and systemic racism in the United States, curricular changes have to be made across the board. Teachers and students must be willing to engage in the difficult conversations about what has led us to this moment. For our conversations with students to have long-lasting meaning, they must be paired with curriculum that explores the positive and negative historical experiences of all Americans.
High School English-as-a-New-Language Teacher
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2020 edition of Education Week as Don’t Lose Momentum on Racial Justice