Commentary

A Statement From New Teacher Center

We are incensed by the overt racism on display in our country since the brutal and unjust murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th. Yet, we also know these are not singular events. Black America has always experienced injustice and it is unacceptable that it proliferates so blatantly today. The NTC community refuses to be bystanders to this injustice. Racial discrimination, police violence, and the tensions created by a society still corrupted by a narrative of racial indifference actively undermines justice, our collective identity, and the basic human right of physical and emotional safety denied to so many in this country. Our failure to deal honestly with the legacy of America’s history of racial injustice has allowed us to hold people of color responsible for how police treat them. It is simply unacceptable. 

Police violence coupled with the blatantly unjust and inequitable laws, policies, and practices that enshroud our justice system, are but symptoms of a much larger disease. The American disease of systemic racial injustice has festered since early European interactions with Native Americans. The myth of racial difference is a legacy of slavery that persists because we have not adequately confronted it as a nation. 

The words of Mr. Bryan Stevenson, most aptly expresses our point of view on the issue. He writes…                                            

“In this country, there are very few places where you can deal honestly with the history of slavery. There is no place where you can deal honestly with the history of terrorism. We actually haven’t even dealt with all the resistance to integration. And we’re indifferent to the victimization of black and brown people. It is unfair to burden black and brown people in this country with the obligation to navigate police encounters safely. The burden is on you as a black or brown person to make sure you say and do the things that avoid some tragedy, and that’s not right. An important step towards reform is that we have got to begin talking differently about what a police officer is. We’ve got too many police officers in this country who think of themselves as warriors, not as guardians.”

Furthermore, the painful reality is that many children of color receive their first explicit introduction to systemic racial injustice upon entering school, in some cases as early as 3 or 4 years old. However, Mr. Stevenson reminds us that “the moral arc of the universe is long and it bends towards justice.” We are holding on to that reminder right now. He also frequently shares a story about an interaction he was fortunate to have with Rosa Parks and a dear friend of hers. This story serves as a powerful and timely reminder for us all. In summary, he was told by Rosa Park’s good friend that fighting for justice would make him “tired, tired, tired, which is why he has to be brave, brave, brave.” 

One way that NTC strives to be brave is by actively dismantling systemic racism through our mission. The NTC mission centers on disrupting the predictability of educational inequities for systemically underserved students by accelerating educator effectiveness. But what does it mean to live into this mission each and every day? For us, it’s in the daily cultivation of mindsets, routines, and actions to dismantle white supremacy culture and empower the communities we serve. This work starts with us as individual educators. It continues through our work to coach educators. Ultimately, the impact of the work can be measured by all students, regardless of their race or background, being held to the highest expectations and standards to learn and succeed. Education is one of the most powerful mechanisms available to directly address racism. As a professional learning organization, this is our work. As humans, this is our passion and it’s deeply personal. 

As Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” We cannot continue to fail our Black educators, students, and communities by not speaking or working with deeper intentionality to systematically dismantle racism in all its pernicious forms. We will not stay silent or shy away from struggle whether on the frontlines of protests, or through our efforts to support educators in creating racially equitable and socially conscious learning environments in their classrooms every single day. At present, the NTC community is diligently working to re-anchor ourselves in our larger purpose and dig deep to find the strength, love, peace, and connection that our world should be built upon. The students and educators we have committed ourselves to need this from us. We sincerely believe that an unwavering commitment to social change that is grounded in the values of love, equity, peace, connection, and humanity for all has the power to bend the “moral arc of the universe towards justice” for many of the students and educators we serve.

In unity,

The Executive Team on behalf of New Teacher Center

Desmond Blackburn 

Desmond Blackburn, Chief Executive Officer

 

 

Atyani Howard, Chief Program Officer

 

 

Arthur Mills IV, Chief Operating Officer

 

 

Helen Chong Rekers, Chief of Staff

 

 

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