In the attack on Teaching for Black Lives, Peter Meyer, writes:
In the introduction to “Teaching for Black Lives,” a recently published textbook meant to accompany BLM’s classroom efforts, the first sentence reads: “Black students’ minds and bodies are under attack.”
The stoking of students’ fear and anger continues with a reference to “the continuing police murders of black people,” along with this characterization of the galvanizing event for BLM’s street protests: “In August of 2014, Michael Brown was killed in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, his body left in the streets for hours as a reminder to the black residents in the neighborhood that their lives are meaningless to the American Empire.”
So according to Myers, declaring that Black students’ minds and bodies are under attack is a problem because it stokes students’ fear and anger—but that actual attacks on their bodies and minds are not a problem and apparently would not stoke fear and anger in students. In his funhouse mirror world, teachers discussing attacks on Black people is more of a problem than the actual attacks. Nowhere in his article does he mention that in Seattle, where Black Lives Matter at School movement started, hate crimes have doubled in the last year and risen 400% since 2012. Nowhere in his article does he acknowledge that nationally Black students are suspended at 4 times the rate of white students and Black girls suspended at 6 times the rate of white girls. Nowhere in the article does he recognize that 1.7 million children go to schools with a police officer but no counselor or the rash of incidents in school where a police officer abuses a child. Nowhere in his article does he discuss the humiliation of Black students being refused entry into school for having dreadlocks, having their dreadlocks cut as a requirement to participate in a high school wrestling march, or a 10-year-old boy being charged with assault for playing dodge ball. Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that much of the curriculum in textbooks is Eurocentric and even overtly racist.
If this upsets you and you want to do something about it, join the movement to undo institutional racism and uplift Black children by participating in the Black Lives Matter at School week of action during the first week of February.
Below is a the rebuttal to the New York Post articles by Rethinking Schools.
Dear Rethinking Schools friends,
Have you seen the recent attacks on Rethinking Schools?
Over the past couple of weeks, the New York Post published two pieces attacking social justice teaching and Rethinking Schools books, publications, and resources.
The first New York Post piece, an op-ed titled “How Black Lives Matter is moving into the schools,” criticized the best-selling Rethinking Schools book Teaching for Black Lives for taking a partisan approach to teaching about anti-Black racism and encouraging teachers to teach students about Black resistance and protest.
The author Peter Meyer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and former fellow at the right wing think tank Heritage Foundation decries the spread of the Black Lives Matter at School movement which “is moving beyond street protests to establish a growing presence in the nation’s public schools.” Meyer says that efforts to teach students about the history of “structural racism” and to resist ‘the school-to-prison pipeline’ and the ‘epidemic of police violence and mass incarceration’ in America are “false and grossly irresponsible” and will have a “demoralizing” effect on students. Meyer instead calls for what he views as a more “balanced” analysis of structural racism and proposes that the solution lies in simply “cultivating virtues of mind, heart, and character.”
In fact, the editors of Teaching for Black Lives tell readers the book strives to “reframe the teaching of these histories in ways that challenge white supremacy and reject many of the popular, yet racist, myths that all too often paint Black people as non-actors in their own liberation.”
It is essential that teachers equip students with skills to be able to learn from Black liberation movements and challenge systems that perpetuate white supremacy. Very few textbooks are available today that give a bottom up perspective of Black liberation. Teaching for Black Lives is an essential resource for educators committed to anti-racist teaching and to pushing back against white supremacy in our schools.
The second article, “New NYC teachers given book with essay titled ‘Dear White Teacher’“ was written by Post reporters outraged that 2,700 copies of our newly revised The New Teacher Book were included in orientation tote bags for New York City Teachers.
The article was intensely critical of efforts to promote anti-racist teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy, and took aim at a sampling of critical topics addressed in The New Teacher Book that every new teacher should be talking about such as joining their unions, opposing harmful standardized tests, embracing community and education activism, and opposing school privatization.
Since The New Teacher Book was published earlier this year it has received overwhelming compliments from both new and experienced teachers. School districts and teacher unions have been adopting it for professional development.
Rose Peterson, a high school English teacher in Milwaukee, WI recently commented, “The New Teacher Book is an outlier in that it is solely comprised of what matters most in education today. From how to set up a classroom to what to teach inside of it, The New Teacher Book covers the questions that confound and dilemmas that paralyze new teachers from a holistic, anti-racist, student-centered perspective. It strikes the perfect balance of pieces that comfort and pieces that challenge.”
With a political climate emboldening white supremacists, teachers desperately need resources like these to navigate these difficult times. Rethinking Schools remains committed to the critical work of promoting equity and racial justice in our classrooms and schools.