The Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. has a “Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools” event for February 6-10, 2023. Parents Defending Education received a schedule of the week and a FAQs document from concerned community members for the school’s events. The public charter school serves students from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. The Black Lives Matter events have students actively participate in “advocacy” and create projects on the topic of “social justice.” The school’s FAQs document for the week also appears to push parents into allowing their children to participate in the activities.
The school explains in the FAQs document: “Following the racial justice protests in 2016, a group of Seattle educators came together to promote racial equity in schools. The following year, Philadelphia’s Caucus of Working Educators’ Racial Justice Committee expanded the campaign and developed four school-based demands.” These demands are to “End Zero Tolerance,” “Mandate Black and Ethnic Studies,” “Hire more Black Teachers,” and “Fund Counselors, not Cops.” The school continues to explain that it “has participated each year as members of our teaching and administration staff collaborated with Teaching for Change to create the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice.”
The document then asks: “What if I don’t want my student to participate?” The school then provides the following response that appears to compel parents into allowing their children to participate:
As part of our school’s mission and the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders, ITDS’ participation in the Black Lives Matter at School week ensures everyone is safe, everyone builds the community, and everyone learns. The activities are designed as developmentally and age appropriate lessons in equity. We see these as core values that each student should participate in as part of our educational programming.
The school then attempts to argue that children as young as three years old can potentially be racist. The school states: “When talking with students, honor where they are and what they already know. In particular, related to race, research suggests that 3-year-olds are aware of racial differences.”
The school’s schedule for the Black Lives Matter week provides the following list of events and activities for each day:
- Monday, February 6
- All students have a morning meeting where the topic of BLM in Schools is introduced in a grade level appropriate way. Students come up with their own fill in the blank prompt explaining what BLM means to them or why it is important. In ECE, this may be a group writing facilitated by teachers.
- Students are all encouraged to wear ITDS t-shirts or the color orange and take a picture with their prompt. The resulting pictures will be put into a video to be shared.
- Tuesday, February 7
- Read Aloud: Teacher selected, based upon BLM guiding principle, 4 Demands of BLM at Schools, advocacy or social justice. During class time, students decide on the “problem” or advocacy element they want to highlight.
- Wednesday, February 8 – Thursday, February 9
- Morning Meeting (PreK-6th) and CREW (7th-8th) Visitors: Teachers work with members of our community to invite Black family guests to come and share stories about their jobs or experiences from when they were kids in that same grade level.
- Hallway Advocacy/Social Justice Display Work Time: Teachers work with students during regular class time to learn more about their selected topic and complete their work that will be displayed on Friday for the whole school Gallery Walk.
- Thursday, February 9
- Voices of our Village, 5:00-6:00 (Families): Families are invited to participate in a community-wide discussion about the socio-political events that have transpired over the last few years, the impact on students, and the role of schools in supporting social justice.
- Friday, February 10
- Gallery Walk: Throughout the day, classes will tour the building on their own timeline so students can see the projects other students worked on. Students will be encouraged to leave post-it note comments on others’ work.
- Open House and Chat, 8:00-9:00 (Families): Families will be invited in for coffee and tea and be allowed to walk around the school looking at the hallway presentations created by the students throughout the week.