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Advocacy: #BlackLivesMatter, Deray McKesson, & Education Reform

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The timing of my latest Scholastic Administrator column couldn't really have been better, coming out as it did this week when #BlackLivesMatter activist (and TFA alumnus) Deray McKesson appeared at UPenn to talk about education and the social justice movement.

My hope is that educators from across the spectrum can rally around some of the elements of the BLM agenda, rather than fight over whose side Deray is on or where he did his teaching:

"Some observers see Black Lives Matter as a powerful alternative to the debate over school reform efforts that focus on accountability, effectiveness, and choice. If BLM and a more explicitly school-related online movement called #educolor seeking to make the voices of teachers of color heard can gain traction, it could help break up the stalemate between reformers and critics that’s hamstrung so many attempts to improve schools."

Frankly, reformers and reform critics need to rally around #BlackLivesMatter if they want to remain relevant and influence the course of events:

"The reform movement has experienced a series of setbacks in places like Newark and New York, and it faced relentless criticism for what some see as an elitist and unrealistic expectation of what schools can reasonably be expected to accomplish. Reform critics—many of them white, college-educated Boomers—have struggled to persuade the public that they are closely allied with poor minority children who attend the nation’s worst schools."

If these entrenched reform/critic interests instead fight over this new movement, they will show themselves to be more interested in their ideas than in making progress, and eventually will be left behind by other more powerful and compelling approaches than the ones they stick to so rigidly. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.