Journal of Educational Controversy

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seattle Black Lives Matter Movement a Fitting Introduction to the Journal of Educational Controversy’s Upcoming Issue.

The Journal of Educational Controversy’s upcoming issue: Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex aims to add more voices to the Black Lives Matter discussion and, as always, provide a forum for examining the dilemmas and controversies that arise in the education of citizens in a pluralistic, democratic society. 

Earlier this year, an unprecedented movement of Seattle educators, staff, students, and community members demonstrated the importance of this issue to all people who are directly or indirectly affected by how Black lives are valued at school.

On October 19, thousands of educators, students, staff, and family members in Washington’s Seattle Public School District organized to wear Black Lives Matter shirts, promote class discussions, and perform before-school rallies in an effort called “Black Lives Matter At School.”

The event arose as an expression of solidarity with John Muir Elementary School, which had previously canceled an event on “Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative” after received threats against Black Lives Matter supporters.  

Although not officially sponsored by the Seattle School District, the event was endorsed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle Educator’s Association and supported by the Seattle teacher’s union. The event was scheduled to coincide with Seattle’s preexisting “day of unity” which focuses on promoting equity in education.

According to participants, the movement aimed to draw attention to inequality in all areas of public education including historical representation, opportunity gaps, and unbalanced patterns of discipline and retention rates. The Seattle Public School District made a statement asking educators and community members to “engage and join the conversation in our united efforts to eliminate opportunity gaps.”

In an interview which first appeared on SocialistWorker.Org, event organizer and Garfield High School Teacher Jesse Hagopian talked about the importance of demonstrations like theirs to embolden the community. “School is supposed to be a place to talk about the things that matter most, and now [students] are being allowed to do that,” he said, “I think that a lot of what the teachers did in wearing that shirt was inspired by the actions of students who are protesting all around the city.” 

In October, the Seattle Public School community made the statement that Black Lives Matter at their schools. The Journal of Educational Controversy hopes to continue the conversation and invite more voices into the discussion with its upcoming issue: Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex as well as a panel discussion that will take place later this year. 

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