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Friday, December 18, 2020

The Crime of Branding Students As Criminals - Philly's 7th Ward

The Crime of Branding Students As Criminals - Philly's 7th Ward

Throughout my time as an educator, I’ve been pulled into my share of “special taskforces” meant to address “at-risk” students – namely Black students. I have no doubt that such groups can be found in schools across America; primarily (I believe) because districts accept “helping” Black children on the backend with interventions that feign problem solving, rather than working on the frontend on behalf of Black children.

Districts that work on the frontend are districts that hire more Black teachers, make curricula culturally relevant and teaching culturally responsive – with rigor – districtwide, and ensure that teaching resources and assignments are both culturally and community affirming. They do not assume that pre-service training is good enough to serve Black students and spend time in deep and meaningful in-service, coaching, and mentoring. But I digress.

“At-risk” students are generally identified by teachers and administrators to identify which students have an increased risk for dropping out of school, usually because of failing grades and an unsightly discipline record. It always starts with an email attached with a list of names; educators love making lists. I’ve received these lists and I always notice the overabundance of Black children on them – lists of children of color that are often rife with racial biases and negative mindsets about Black and Brown communities .

Never did I consider that my colleagues would ever refer these lists to local CONTINUE READING: The Crime of Branding Students As Criminals - Philly's 7th Ward