Altagracia was awarded the ITOC Racial Justice Teacher Innovation Grant which is “awarded to racial justice leaders working in or with K-12 schools. Their passion, thoughtfulness and creativity have led to curriculum, initiatives and community building that transform school culture and learning at school sites across the nation.” The grant was awarded to Altagracia to support the launch of an inquiry to action group (ItAG) titled, How Racist Are We? Assessing Racial Justice in Schools to Identify Next Steps.
Inquiry to Action Groups or ItAGs gather educators, activists and others to study a topic and collectively create an action around that area of study, making it a true community of praxis. How Racist Are We? Assessing Racial Justice in Schools to Identify Next Steps, will center teachers of color and our commitment to racial justice.
Teachers of color bear the high cost of invisible taxes in the form of racialized marginalization, racial battle fatigue, and high risk of professional pushout. This ItAG will alleviate some of the invisible tax by providing teachers with the language and framework to understand their school’s progress towards racial justice, the tools to take action at their schools, continued culturally relevant professional development using abolitionist teaching practice and rooted in critical race theory, a community of educators of color committed to racial justice, and a safe space the supports healing.
The How Racist Are We? Assessing Racial Justice in Schools to Identify Next Steps ItAG will support NYC teachers of color in implementing the strategies, tools, and practices shared during the workshop of the same title presented during the 2019 Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice Conference where Altagracia shared a framework she designed that helps educators assess the level of racial equity in their school communities.
Unlike the workshop, the ItAG is structured to support teachers over an extended period of time. ItAG members will experience the workshop and immediately begin developing their individualized action plans which will include action items such as the implementation of focus groups, a school climate survey, and a racial justice framework. In addition to the tools provided, teachers will collaboratively explore resources to share and implement. Most important to the ItAG is the prioritization of wellness, community, and care. ItAG meetings will center healing and relationships.
The structure of the ItAG will be modeled after the following working principles:
- Confront and combat white supremacy culture. Hold ourselves and each other accountable to the internal and external presence and patterns of white supremacy culture (WSC)
- Community. Strengthen relationships in service of building a community that understands, values, and loves each member
- Healing. Leveraging relationships to foster a culture that heals through storytelling and taking risks through vulnerability and compassion
- Culturally sustaining professional growth. Engage in professional development that is designed for us, by us and provides the emotional, mental, and tactical skills needed to combat injustice in schools
- Freedom dreaming. Collectively and consistently practice the art of envisioning a world more just than the one we know, more consistent with the world our ancestors intended
- Collective action. Use the freedom dreams as a road map as we support each other in taking action at our schools and collectively take responsibility for our team members’ well being and success
Impact of the ItAG will be tracked via participant surveys. We predict that by the end of the ItAG, outcomes will include increased racial literacy, the development of meaningful relationships amongst ItAG members, a decrease in racial fatigue in comparison to previous year, and a shift in their school culture based on their action plans.
The best practices collected from this ItAG will be presented and shared with ITOC conference members in June 2020 in the form of a presentation and a best practices toolkit to take home.