SEL and Equity: Educators Must be at the Forefront of Social Justice Movement
Over the past several days, thousands of people across the country and across the globe have gathered in protest in response to the death of George Floyd and the countless souls lost to the scourge of systemic racism. Our nation is at a tipping-point in virtually all sectors of society. Education is paramount to this movement and outcry for justice as we add Mr. Floyd’s name to the ever-growing list of black Americans who have fallen victim to the institutional racism that continues to plague our country. We can no longer fail to address issues of racism and implicit bias that exists in every sector of our society – particularly our most vulnerable sector – our education system.
To let this moment pass, to let the loss of life pass, without committing to REAL change is unforgivable. We must start by acknowledging the fact that every child is not navigating on a level playing field. We must reach out to our black and brown students, educate all students on issues of racism, privilege, social justice and civic engagement in order to bring about the change needed to address the systemic racism that permeates our society and continually fails our communities of color.
We have never had a greater need for SEL than in this moment. Social Emotional Learning holds perhaps the greatest promise of all in changing the way we approach education and equity. However, we must also be vigilant to avoid the misuse of SEL as a behavior compliance tool which used improperly can result in further perpetuation of a white supremacy culture.
As educators, we must be at the forefront of this movement to realize the dream of a just society for all – we owe it to George, to Breonna, Ahmaud, Eric, Trayvon, Tamir, and every soul on that tragically endless list. We owe it to our students – whose names we hope never to be added.