That’s what John Jackson suggested public education advocates do in response to the surprise election of Donald Trump.
Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education was one of the headliners at an event in Boston celebrating the organization’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The event included a panel discussion titled, “Addressing Racism— Strategies for Systemic Change: A Post-Election Analysis.”
This was the nation’s first prominent event addressing the election outcome from an education justice perspective, and few, if any, of the panel participants had anticipated a discussion about the incoming Trump administration. (Disclosure: Schott is a partner of the Education Opportunity Network, which I direct.)
Opposition to Trump from students in K-12 public schools and on college campuses has broken out across the country. Thousands of students walked out of classrooms and filled streets with blocks-long protest marches. Their messages, as reported in mainstream mediaand prominent news outlets, reflects resistance to discrimination against immigrants, women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals.
Those themes were on the minds of the panelists at the Schott event, who sought to place the election results in the context of historical struggles for education justice and civil rights.
Ted Shaw, a law professor and director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill suggested that Trump is likely “worse than Reagan,” but argued that the history and demographics of the United States are on the side of progressives.
“This is not the only president we’ve elected who exhibits racism and sexism,” Jackson reminded the audience.
Jackson suggested the audience take heart in the recent victories in Massachusetts and Georgia where well-funded ballot initiatives to expand school privatization efforts were shot down by grassroots organizing and street-level voter engagement.
Also, election victories for eight women to the U.S. House of Representatives and four to the Senate were positive notes, Jackson mentioned.
“The march toward justice has never been linear,” Jackson explained. “We’re only doing better today than we were fifty years ago because there were leaders who stood in the gaps” between progress and prejudice.
“People need to be in the streets,” was the consensus among panelists, and a frequent refrain Back to (our) Future: