Stephanie Younger

By Skyla Bailey • 

As Black and Brown youth, we are tired of being considered second place, tired of having the education system fail us, and tired of being behind. We want to have all schools in Virginia to become equitable sanctuaries where every student can flourish. This petition is an essential call-to-action. We ask everybody to sign the petition and help us combat systemic racism in our classrooms, and take back our education system.

  1. Host EFFECTIVE Faculty Diversity Trainings
    1. Have Equity vs Equality trainings for teachers and administrators
      1. Interactive Trainings
        1. Learning about Implicit and Quiet Bias
        2. Understanding Equity problems in the school system
          1. Can’t have equality without equity
        3. Doing Simulations 
        4. Quarterly Trainings and Semi-Yearly Check Ups 
    2. Bias and Prejudice trainings (Racial, Appearance, etc.)
      1. Diminish stereotypes 
      2. Cultural sensitivity- awareness of history, holidays, traditions, and common microaggressions to Black and Brown youth 
      3. PBIS 
  1. Encourage Black and Latinx students (African American and Hispanic/Latinx) into advanced/AP classes and make those classes more accessible to Black and Brown students: while this is already a focus in high schools, students need to be encouraged in elementary and (middle schools). Especially in middle school because that is when students start their academic track.
    1. MORE students. Many of them have the talent and ability; however, they do not get the chance to show and demonstrate their capacity due to not wanting to be in the class because of the lack of friends in the class, the homework load during the year, technology access, or the fear of not having learned the skills from a previous class.
      1. Make it more accommodating for everyone- stop making it scary and white
      2. Teacher Recommendations in Middle School
      3. Teacher Recommendations in every single level
        1. Look at the grades and suggest going into a higher level
      4. Recognition about resources: free SAT/ACT testing, college apps, and AP exams
    2. Once Black and Latinx students are in advanced classes, create opportunities to build camaraderie between themselves and amongst other classroom peers. Help students feel as if they are a part of the community. Students have a sense of friendship and security when other people in their classes look like them rather than the students being the only minority in their class. People of color are not alone in class, and they should not feel like they are. 
    3. Have programs to support students who are advanced thinkers and encourage them to go to advanced classes. Further, encourage them after the course begins.
      1. Personal/ connect with the students that do not look like you 
      2. Equity: make sure they have the essentials to ensure success
      3. AVID and Academic Lab/ Academic Tutorial 
  1. Eliminate the mindset of opposition identify
    1. Racial Opposition Identify- White people are perceived as smarter or as learning more quickly than other races. In an effort to not be perceived to be white, often Black kids will not want to be perceived as smart or as a nerd.
    2. Example: “You talk like a White Person” – said by both races; this is not a compliment.
      1. “the stigma of ‘acting white’ among many black students is true. The better they do in school, the fewer friends they have – while for whites who are perceived as smarter, there’s an opposite social effect” (Ireland, p. 8)-
      1. Create a school-wide assembly where all students can listen and learn 
  1. Recognize code-switching
    1. Stop deeming BIPOC children ignorant because they don’t talk like you (GAE)
      1. Not ignorant, just different way of communicating
      2. Eradicate prejudicial practices and pedagogies
      3. Applaud students for having to learn GAE to appease society
      4. If they speak AAVE in their home, it takes double the work to learn a totally different dialect.
        1. Recognize that they are not accustomed to speaking it
        2. However, recognize that not ALL black people speak SAE
  1. Reduce academic tracking 
    1. Academic Tracking- makes students stay in one track education (general edu has many BIPOC students.)
    2. When teachers see students advancing, making process, or having the ability to handle the more advanced class -> recommend them for a higher class so they can reach full academic potential 
  1. Work with Black and Latinx students who are facing bigger issues (homelessness, food insecurity, etc.) than doing homework
    1. do not give encumbering amounts of hw in the general classes 
    2. try to figure out why the student is not doing hw and fix the solution = EQUITY
    3. Give special help to the students who might not be able to stay after school for help 
  1. When a child has an attitude, don’t give it back. Teachers are supposed to be the adults; act like adults and avoid reciprocating the behavior.
    1. Realize the child might be going through an unstable family situation, poverty, and/or societal problems all while going through puberty; still, the expectation is that he/she/they has to perform at the level of peers who aren’t going through the same.
    2. Recognize that the way that poor and working-class white people experience poverty is not the way poor and working-class Black people experience poverty.
  1. Giving general class populations the same respect and urgency as the advanced classes
    1. Assuring that students are taught EVERYTHING they need to advance the next level
    2. Making sure everyone in the class gains the knowledge from the material and understands the information
    3. Teaching in a way that will cater to students’ needs and help them advance in their education  
    4. The class is only as strong as the weakest link
    5. If the child can not read past a 3rd grade level and they are in 8th grade, then the educational system failed them. 
    6. If needed, give opportunities to facilitate (special lunch teaching periods, peer one on one help, positive check-up calls to home, etc.)
  1. Stop assuming that black boys (marginalized groups) don’t care about education
    1. Stop perceiving them as mean or bad or angry
      1. Maybe confused about the material
      2. May want to ask a question
      3. May want help but don’t know the right words to ask
    2. EVERY STUDENT HAS BAD DAYS. it should be socially acceptable that black boys and girls are angry at the world that systemically puts them down and often repeats the saying that “you are not worthy” and/or “you are nothing better than the ghetto”. If they have a mean disposition, do not automatically assume that they are rebels or hooligans. It could be something so much bigger than just schoolwork. 
    3. Reduce suspensions and expulsions for these students. OSS puts the students out of the classroom where they need to be to learn. Ultimately, doing so increases students’ chances of going into the school to prison pipeline. Expulsions make them think that they will never make it in the real world so they often have to resort to crime to make a living. 
    4. Only growing up in a family and/or an environment where crime is normalized and school is perceived as not working nor helping you achieve often makes people resort to going back into what they know.
  1. Give advice about the college process + career advice + trade school
    1. ALL STUDENTS SHOULD HAVE COLLEGE ADVICE. Remember, not everyone has older siblings or parents who have gone through the process of applications or FAFSA.
      1. Make sure there is an opportunity for College advisor 
      2. Guidance Counselors should talk about college stuff junior year rather than wait 
    2. Provide help and advice for college early, especially the first-generation students, low-income students, and the ones who lack parental guidance in the household. They should most definitely have a class or an accessible resource where they are able to receive the help they need to succeed in the future.
      1. Class 
      2. After School presentation 
      3. Assembly
      4. College Advisor/ Career Advisor
      5. Recommend Parental Involvement 
  1. Start teaching lessons and stories of people who look like them.
    1. Consistently in history and English classes we only hear about European and “American” history and literature. However, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic/Latinx Americans are ALL PART OF AMERICA. Start implementing history lessons, stories, English literature by these minorities because their history and impact in America are being erased. Students who are not white want to see themselves as leaders rather than the side characters or a paragraph in a history book.
    2. Reduce racial tensions and racism by exposing kids to what hardships and struggles other Black people and people of color faced.
    3. Buying history books that are inclusive to minorities
      1. Stop just talking about european history and/or white history
      2. Talk about the housing discrimination, resevation schools, japanese interment camps 
    1. Equity – give equal opportunities to people of all races 
    2. As a teacher, MAKE SURE TO encourage and support the minority students
      1. Positive affirmation
    3. If needed, give special help for their circumstances and/or find ways to implement assistance without resorting to the white savior narrative present in pedagogy.
  1. Reform and Allocate the funds
    1. Start putting money into communities that are underserved
      1. More buses for areas in which the majority do not drive or have parents who drive them to school
    2. Normalize going to the guidance counselor to help students with their mental health as they struggle in a society in which they’ve been made to feel inferior for over 400 years.
      1. Black Youth-led Groups:
      2. Giving more resources for NAACP youth programs
      3. Mentorship/ Outlet
      4. More clubs
    3. Increased tutoring access in general
      1. Normalize/Expand the Academic Tutoring – not just for students who may fail but for students who need extra help to excel in their classes
      2. Implement AVID program 
  1.  If black students are loud and/or play fighting, do not automatically assume that they are getting in a fight.
    1. Look and assess the situation before stepping in
    1. Important way to ensure camaraderie and accelerated success is to have teachers and administer who look like us AND care about our success
    2. Remember where you came from; need teachers/ administrators who UNDERSTAND the struggle, know where we are coming from, and expose opportunities to us that we have never seen before 
  2. Appreciate AAVE (African American Vernacular English) as a different variation of English rather than deeming children who speak AAVE dumb and uneducated
    1. AAVE- sociolect historically spoken by African Americans. Has own unique grammatical, vocabulary and accent features
      1. I’m finna go to the flower shop.
      2. Yo, you trippin’
    2. Recognize that it is a variation of English that is different from the norm. Does not mean that the child is stupid, just means that the child means differently.
    3. DO NOT negate the child and subconsciously, deem them as “harder”
    4. For students who have only spoke in that variation, be understanding and maybe help them more to fully understand General American English (GAE)
      1. GAE- the language used for academic testing and what I am writing in right now
      2. Imagine only hearing one type of language for your upbringing and when you get to school, they are speaking a different version of English than what has been around you. You would have a hard time adjusting as well. Understand where they are coming from.

This petition is now closed. We have reached over 150 signatures! Thank you to those who have supported these demands!

Skyla Bailey

Skyla Bailey is passionate about educational racial justice and allowing everyone of all races to have equal opportunity and resources. She believes that education and knowledge is one of the biggest tools of success and that it is utterly essential that everyone has a proper tools of success to design their future.