FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Hashim Jabar
Racial Justice Now! DMV Chapter
Howard County School Board endorses Black Lives Matter Week of Action by Resolution
Columbia, Maryland- On January 24th, in a decision of 5-0-3, Howard County School Board members adopted a resolution to endorse the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. This marked the first community win for the newly formed Racial Justice NOW! DMV chapter, who has been organizing with Howard county parents, youth, and community members.
The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action will take place from Monday, February 4th through Friday, February 8th. Black Lives Matter at School is a national coalition of educators organizing for racial justice in education. The resolution allows educators and students to participate in events and instructional activities for the week of action without fear of repercussions; and solidifies the county’s commitment to fostering a school system where Black students’ lives matter, and where our Black students, educators, and their families are treated with respect and dignity.
The resolution was introduced by Mavis Ellis, the first African American chairperson of the Howard County School Board and was drafted by Black community members and non-black allies. The Howard County Public School System now joins a long list of other school systems, and organizations in endorsing the week, including the National Education Association, the nation’s largest educators’ union, and the Maryland State Education Association, the state’s largest educators’ union.
“This act reminds Black students, families, and staff members that they are seen and valued at the highest levels of school governance. Although it is clear that there is more work to be done, this vote is an affirming step toward equity in our county” said Jessica Nichols, a Social Studies teacher at River Hill High School. Jessica was one of several Howard County residents, parents, and retired teachers, who gave powerful testimony in support of the resolution.
The local educator’s union, the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), has yet to endorse the week of action. HCEA endorsed candidates for school board, Vicky Cutroneo, Jen Mallo, and Christina Delmont-Small were the abstentions, citing “process issues” as their rationale for non-support.
During the 2017-2018 school year, from February 5 to 9, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist movements for a nationally organized week of action: Black Lives Matter at School. Educators in over 20 cities participated in this national uprising to affirm the lives of Black students, teachers, and families.
Pre-K through 12th grade teachers of all content areas will be encouraged to teach a developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant and responsive curriculum, starting with the week of action and continuing throughout the year, that uplifts and affirms Black lives and Black identify.
The current plans for the week of action were developed by a local committee of students, parents, educators, and community members and will be related to the four demands of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action:
- End Zero Tolerance,
- Mandate Black History & Ethnic Studies,
- Hire More Black Teachers, &
- Fund Counselors, Not Cops
Among the planned community events will be a workshop on Zero Tolerance, School to Prison Pipeline, and Restorative Justice, followed by a panel of students. The event will also highlight Black owned businesses and organizations. Additionally, on the Wednesday of the week of action, students at individual schools will be planning actions or events that will highlight and uplift Black student voice in intentional discussions of systemic racism, social injustice, Black history, self-worth, freedom, and justice. On that day, educators, students, and community members are encouraged to wear Black Lives Matter shirts or all black clothing to show support for our Black students and families.
Each evenings’ event is open to press, where educators and community members who organized the event will be available for interviews.
If you are interested in curriculum resources, learning about events in Howard County, or more general information about the Howard County Black Lives Matter in Our Schools Week of Action, please explore the National Black Lives Matter at School website www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com or visit the The National Black Lives Matter in Our Schools or the Howard County Black Lives Matter in Our Schools Facebook Pages.