Boston Teachers Union reaffirms commitment to anti-racism during Black Lives Matter at School Week
To kick off Black History Month, the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) reaffirmed its commitment to undoing racism, and to lifting up and celebrating Black lives as part of the national Black Lives Matter at School Week. This is the fourth year that the union has taken part of the movement dedicated to fighting racism and anti-Black violence.
In June 2020, the BTU passed a resolution for building an anti-racist union. This resolution included a call for BPS to remove all police from schools and to invest their funds into mental health services and restorative justice practices in the schools. Instead of being used to enforce the school to prison pipeline, current school police could be redeployed into school support roles that focus not just on keeping schools safe, but also on connecting students to the social emotional and community based supports they need.
We, as educators serving predominantly Black, Latinx, APIA, and indigenous students, have a duty to confront and undo our own internalized prejudices and bias, and to fight to transform the systems that perpetuate and enforce them. In our quest to create the truly equitable schools that our students and educators deserve, we cannot ignore how social, racial and economic disparities impact both our communities and our classrooms. This includes reexamining systems and roles that either contribute to those disparities or actively upend them.
The international social movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) formed in the United States in 2013 as a response to the unjust murder of Black people by police. Black Lives Matter at School is a national coalition organizing for racial justice in education.
BTU members at schools across Boston are organizing school-based actions and events to participate in. In Boston, educators have been fighting for alternatives to suspensions and expulsions including restorative practices, ethnic studies, investing in more counselors in schools rather than more police in schools, and hiring and retaining more black teachers. The union has also supported Congresswoman Pressley’s Push Out Bill, advocated for foundation budgets, as well as #InclusionDoneRight.
The work to dismantle racism and the systems that perpetuate them must begin with us — with each individual being willing to listen, learn, self reflect and lower our defensive reactions. Asking for more school counselors instead of funding more positions that have historically penalized students instead of aiding them should not be conflated with a lack of appreciation for the role of appropriate law enforcement. All of us have both ideas to unlearn and new perspectives to gain, as we all strive to better understand our individual and collective roles in both fighting white supremacy and supporting our Black, Latinx, APIA, and indigenous students, union members, and communities. This includes examining and understanding the historic and current roles of policing both in schools and in our communities of color as well as the experiences of our students of color.
As always, we encourage and welcome dialogue not just with our educators and families, but also with respected law enforcement members, many of whom also are part of the larger BPS community. It is through dialogue and shared understanding and analysis that we can address the systemic issues that have long oppressed our communities of color and black communities in particular.
Details on the events BTU is supporting and organizing can be found on the BTU website: https://btu.org/blackhistory.