During the week of February 1-5, classrooms across the District will engage in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, a 5-day guide to expand student understanding of the Black Lives Matter at School Principles.
Why is the Ames CSD participating in the Black Lives Matter at School national week of action?
The Black Lives Matter at School movement, which is not formally affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Global Network or any other organization in the Movement for Black Lives, is a push to improve schools for Black students, teachers, and families. The movement is a call to schools across the nation to say and show that Black lives matter within the school walls and in the policies and practices that impact the lives and futures of Black students. The Week of Action is a time set aside to affirm all Black identities by centering Black voices, empowering students, and teaching about Black experiences beyond slavery.
This week of action not only benefits Black students but can also be transformative for non-Black students, particularly white students. Due in large part to school and residential segregation, white students often get a narrow view of blackness from their lived experiences. Recall that our secondary equity audits stated that “there were patterns of racial segregation within academic tracks. Specifically, Black, Latinx, and Native American students were less likely to be in class with White and Asian students.” Furthermore, in our 2020 spring Panorama Culture and Climate Survey, only 14% of our 6-12 grade students responded favorably to the question “How often do students at your school have important conversations about race, even when they might be uncomfortable?” In addition, only 24% of 6-12 grade students responded favorably to the question, “When there are major news events related to race, how often do adults at your school talk about them with students?” The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action provides us with an opportunity to improve in these areas.
For years, our data has shown that there is a need to focus on our Black students. For years, community groups have requested we improve the educational experiences of our Black students. For years, Ames CSD staff have been working on deepening their critical consciousness. Now is the time for us to take action.
Ames CSD has taken some steps to begin addressing the disparities we see in our school data: committing to equity in the District’s purpose and priorities, working with experts Drs. Spikes and Swalwell to train staff in critical consciousness, and providing additional support for staff to further their knowledge through building-level professional development and district level opportunities. The next step toward change is using the knowledge we’ve attained to change the way we teach and interact with our students. We want our Black students to know they matter to the Ames Community School District.
Each day of the BLM at School week of action, two to three of the Black Lives Matter at School’s thirteen guiding principles will be discussed with students through age-appropriate lessons and activities. The thirteen principles and their descriptions can be found below. Early childhood and elementary descriptions can be found in the resources.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is guided by the following principles.
- Restorative Justice – We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
- Empathy – We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
- Loving Engagement – We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
- Diversity – We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.
- Globalism – We see ourselves as part of the global Black family and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black folk who exist in different parts of the world.
- Queer Affirming – We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.
- Trans Affirming – We are committed to embracing and making space for trans siblings to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
- Collective Value – We are guided by the fact all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
- Intergenerational – We are committed to fostering an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.
- Black Families – We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.
- Black Villages – We are committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
- Unapologetically Black – We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
- Black Women – We are committed to building a Black women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male‐centeredness.
Leading into the BLM at School Week of Action, we provided links to nationally curated resources that teachers could utilize and pull from. Since that week, we have pulled together example lessons that were actually used in Ames classrooms. We have removed the links to those national resources and are highlighting the work of our teachers and staff on our website. You can access a Google Folder full of Ames examples at the link below.