Under our former superintendent, Dr. Vicma Ramos, The Greater Amsterdam School District was awarded the E3RJ (Educating Early Career Educators for Racial Justice) Grant. The three-year grant is sponsored through NYSUT (New York State United Teachers), NEA (National Education Association), and SUNY Albany. The NEA Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Department coordinates and administers the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) funding grants to state and local affiliates to further drive the core strategies of the racial justice in education work: Awareness, Capacity-Building, and Action. The grant explicitly addresses racial equity and justice (fairness and justice across racial groups) and the elimination of racism (racial inequities, disparities, and bias) in its goals and plans.
Our GASD Schools and Community Coordinator, Mrs. Nancy Rad, through her office, has been offering a variety of virtual experiences throughout the summer for teachers. These book studies, podcasts and workshops were conducted by our E3RJ Grant Liaison, Rita Floess. The summer workshops were so well received by the GASD educators we have extended offerings for the remainder of the school year and not only for teachers but for administrators and Board of Education Members. As we are in the third and final year of the grant, we have teachers who are now being trained to run these various types of sessions in order to sustain the opportunities afforded us through the grant.
Some of the sessions have included::
Sticks and Stones
A series of workshops on implicit bias and microaggressions. This series will be offered as turnkey so the district can offer it again with more staff, community members, and students.
Implicit Bias refers to the attitudes, beliefs, or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases often manifest themselves in the forms of microaggressions and stereotypes. Everyone has Implicit Bias, but few of us are aware of it and how it impacts our daily experiences. For educators, Implicit Bias may have a negative effect on our students’ behavioral and academic outcomes. This session will share real-life examples of different Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Stereotypes, how they impact our schools and provide practical strategies to address and confront them in ourselves and others.
An Online Book Study on Waking Up White by Debby Irving
For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn’t understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.
The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
A series of discussions around the topic of equity using the foundational documents from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and other resources to include:
– Disrupting Our Ideas
– Equity in Learning Environment
– Equity in Instructional Practice
This series is not about National Board candidacy, nor does it prepare a teacher for candidacy. It does incorporate the foundational documents of the 5 Core Propositions, certificate-area teaching standards, and Architecture of Accomplished Teaching.
It is the hope of the GASD Schools and Community Office that as many educators and board members will take advantage of these opportunities as possible. The core of social justice education is distributing resources fairly and treating all students equitably so that they feel safe and secure—physically and psychologically.