Here are the “Demands” from the Black Lives Matter Week of Action At School promoted by the Iowa Teachers’ Union:
“What do we want? Justice!
- End “zero tolerance” discipline, and implement restorative justice
- Hire more black teachers
- Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum
- Fund counselors not cops
These demands will begin to insure safety and equity in our schools.
End Zero Tolerance. Focus our Schools on Restorative Justice.
The use of zero tolerance in public schools stops now. The over-policing, out of control suspensions, and expulsions must be brought to an immediate end. To rebuild our structures, we will focus our resources on restorative justice-the organic appointment of community leaders; mediation and processing; and equitable perspectives on rehabilitation. Ending zero tolerance and focusing our schools around restorative justice will honor an autonomous voice and vision for students, staff and faculty.
Black Teacher Pushout Ends Now! Hire More Black Teachers in our Schools.
Nine U.S. cities demonstrate a rapid decline in the number of Black Teachers: Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC. This leaves a mighty burden on the Black Teachers and Service Providers who are left behind and viewed as “disciplinarians.” Racist policies in schools and biased skills exams eliminate Black and Brown teaching candidates. We must increase teacher retention and opportunities for teachers of color.
The elimination of Black teachers is an aggressive push towards homogenizing education in America, creating the School to Prison Pipeline, and honoring the pervasive system of racism from which our country gains its roots. Studies show that students excel academically when they are taught from someone in their own racial group. This message of inequity negatively impacts our student’s aptitude for learning and limits the scopes of their dreams. Our Black Teachers need our support and deserve to no longer be abandoned.
Black History/Ethnic Studies Mandated K-12.
A classroom is incomplete if there is only one history taught to its students. The exclusion of Black History and Ethnic studies curriculum ends now. Our students of color deserve to feel empowered in the classroom, by seeing themselves in the curriculum and reading materials. Black History and Ethnic Studies must be included in K-12 classrooms. To effectively do this, all teachers are mandated to participate in university and certification programs before blindly infusing Black history or Ethnic Studies into their curriculum. This will ensure that these changes occur with informed tools and dedication.
Fund Counselors Not Cops
Our newest demand is simple: children need counselors not cops. Schools today spend an enormous amount of their financial resources hiring school resource officers and local police officers. These same schools often lack enough counselors for students to receive the support they need. We have seen videos of horrifying interactions with police officers and Black students in school and each week we hear of Black people having the police called on them for simply existing while Black. The reality is our schools need counselors for children. The amount of racial trauma and adverse childhood experiences Black students experience continues to increase. We demand that schools provide counselors who have manageable caseloads that allow them to provide quality service to all students.”