Thursday, June 4, 2015
Bronx Education Conference at CASA Middle School a Great Success
We need many more gatherings like the Bronx Education Conference held at Casa Middle School in the Bronx where teachers from more than ten Bronx schools held frank discussions about how race affects the lives of their students inside and outside of school and how teaching curriculum and school culture should address those experiences. The discussions I heard were passionate, informative, painfully honest, and conducted in an atmosphere where all views were treated with respect. No one held back. Black,, White, Latino, and Asian teachers, united by a love for the students they were working with, shared stories from their teaching and their personal lives which revealed both the power of culturally relevant pedagogy and the huge obstacles involved with incoporating it into daily practice given the overwhelming emphasis on testing along with intrusive protocols for teacher evaluation. But though the discussion was sometimes painful, most people came away energized because they had approached a taboo subject and came away stronger and more united for having done so. There was NO racial hostility in any of the discussions even though race was on the table in the most direct and open way. We need to do this more often, in more places. Jamaal Bowman, who organized and chaired this conference, deserves tremendous credit for giving us a model which can be taken to other boroughs, other cities and other communities.