How We Move Forward: Practicing Three Inclusive, Anti-Racist Mindsets for Reopening Schools

This article orginally appeared on July 16, 2020 in Getting Smart by Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann, Temple Lovelace, Lindsay Kruse and Eric Tucker.

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” – Arundhati Roy

COVID-19, the economic downturn, and persistent racism have revealed significant weaknesses in our country’s education system, from an unconscionable lack of access to basic necessities, tools, and technology, to insufficient social-emotional support for students experiencing trauma and adversity. The pandemic has exacerbated existing educational inequalities for students who have historically been marginalized by our education system, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) learners, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Furthermore, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, combined with other persistent systemic inequities, serve as a painful reminder that discrimination, ableism, and racism* remain pervasive across our society.