As educators wrap up the 2020-21 school year and prepare for a “new normal” this fall, one of the tasks on the bridge is curriculum planning. Speaking with principals across the country, I have heard many concerns about state legislatures deciding how individual schools teach students about race and racism in American history and train educators on diversity. , equity and inclusion. The National Association of Heads of Secondary Schools believes that school members – educators and principals – should make decisions about curriculum and professional development, not those of state or federal Capitol buildings.
Local control is at the heart of the American education system at the primary and secondary levels. Communities within a single state vary widely, as do their needs and priorities. that’s whyour education system prioritizes school decision-making at the local level. Of course, there are standards and benchmarks that apply to all schools when it comes to the curriculum. Significant and specific commonalities, such as the subjects taught and the concepts covered, exist for good reason.
Advancing racial justice and equity
Based on my years of education experience, districts that focus on improving student outcomes and academic performance have one thing in common: they actively engage and engage their educators in in-depth conversations. on educational standards, programs and strategies. The specific content and teaching methods must be decided by and with the experts: teachers and school leaders.
Teachers know the make-up of students in a given class, and principals know the make-up of students in each grade, as well as the larger context, challenges, strengths and demographics of the school as a whole. Principals know intimately the inner workings of their buildings, the myriad personalities, strengths and weaknesses of students and staff, which children and teachers are soaring and who need more support.
Principals develop and maintain relationships with families and community members, ensure that students’ cultural backgrounds and languages spoken at home are recognized and respected, and create schedules and structures that allow families to genuinely engage in school activities and decision making. What to teach and how to teach it in a way that advances students and their learning is a nuanced decision best left to those who work most closely with our students.
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Creating schools that support student success goes beyond lessons. School leaders play a pivotal role in creating school cultures that honor, celebrate, affirm and defend the rich diversity of identity, culture, race, language and community that students and staff bring to the classroom. building. Principals have the power to identify racism, implement anti-racist strategies, uplift students and staff of color, and ultimately make our schools and society more inclusive and fair. .
The NASSP has long condemned the structural, institutional, and systemic racism that permeates all dimensions of American life, including education. As a national organization, we call on school leaders to embrace and promote racial justice and equity in education.
Fundamentally, equity is a commitment to social justice, civil rights, and human connection. This is why, in our Position Statement on Racial Justice and Equity in Education, NASSP emphasizes the essential role principals and vice-principals play in creating culturally appropriate and equitable learning environments for all students.
Politicians are not education experts
The NASSP encourages school leaders to: implement various recruitment and hiring practices; hire educators experienced in teaching about race and inequality; provide professional development that prepares teachers to deal with incidents and facilitate discussions of racism, prejudice and identity; and ensure that the program includes stories and portrayals of diverse people – including the unjust systems under which they have been oppressed and the ongoing struggles for justice.
School leaders have a responsibility to ensure that history, social studies and civic education curricula and teaching materials include accurate representations of the central role of race in history and governance. Americans, as well as the traumatic and lasting impact of slavery on our society.
They are responsible for exploring how an anti-racist lens can be applied to the teaching of all subjects, including math and science. They have a responsibility to review disaggregated data and policies on grading, discipline and access to advanced courses with the aim of eliminating inequalities. And they have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with culturally appropriate pedagogy and to support teachers in their efforts to examine their own implicit biases and make their teaching practices more equitable and inclusive.
State and federal legislatures are not education experts, and they cannot know the individuals and communities that make up a school’s ecosystem. But educators and school leaders are doing it. They are experienced and knowledgeable professionals who should make curriculum decisions based on their in-depth expertise in what children need to know, how they actually learn, and who they really are.
Ronn Nozoe is the CEO of the National Association of Heads of Secondary Schools. In his home state of Hawaii, Ronn served as Deputy State Superintendent, District Superintendent, Principal, Deputy Principal, and Teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @RonnNozoe