For most people, medicine is something used to treat or cure a disease, often a man-made drug, or sometimes an herb. Sometimes it refers to the whole field: hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, and so on. In Native Americans traditions, however, medicine is a way of achieving balance. An Indigenous medicine person doesn’t just heal illnesses — he or she can restore harmony or establish a state of being, like peacefulness. Medicine people live and practice among the people; access to them is constant and unrestricted. And the practice of medicine is not just limited to the hands of medicine people: everyone is welcome to participate. Engaging with medicine is a part of the experience of daily life. Traditionally, Indigenous people don’t wait to be out of balance before they turn to medicine.
One of the most inspiring sights of the historic West Virginia teacher strike was seeing educators taking the time to assemble bags of food to deliver to students while schools were closed. In a state in which one in four children is in poverty, the food drive helped struggling families while the strike was ongoing — but it was also an indicator of the kind of labor-community cooperation and solidarity that can achieve important victories, even in the face of daunting political odds.
Today there are an estimated 30,000 officers now in schools, up from roughly 100 in the 1970s. Although the stated purpose of these officers is to maintain a sense of safety, a very troubling consequence is greater arrest rates and referrals for minor disruptive behaviors — with especially harsh results for girls of color.
Every day, Native youth and communities demonstrate the ability to thrive and persevere despite historical, structural and institutional inequities. Native youth have shown that they are invested in a better future – not just for Native people, but for all Americans. By working in partnership, funders believe that we will see Native communities make great strides in healing, restoration, and advancement of our greatest resource – our youth.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education, in partnership with Native Americans in Philanthropy, with support from Nike N7, recently released a set of recommendations for helping Native youth live healthy lives. These recommendations came directly from Native American leaders who hold expertise across health, physical fitness, education and youth development sectors. The report, Original Instructions, outlines both challenges and opportunities to philanthropy. It’s a first step towards using our resources to recognize and learn from the resilient Native youth.
Just yesterday, Schott grantee partner Journey for Justice Alliance released a compelling short documentary chronicling the fight against education reform in the age of Trump and DeVos. Beyond the rhetoric coming from DC, for years Journey for Justice has been raising the voices of those most impacted by budget cuts and privatization. Following J4J's trip from Detroit to Washington, D.C. to oppose Betsy DeVos' appointment as Education Secretary in early 2017, this film not only shows the profound hurt that these policy changes cause, but the inspiring organizing done to resist them.
Despite the contrived false narrative of failing students and schools, the nation’s public school students are once again leading the nation to a more just society and a stronger democracy. During the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s it was public school students walking out of schools, sitting at lunch counters, and marching on Washington that shaped the civil rights movement.
The tragic Parkland school shooting has sharpened the public’s attention to school safety. Despite the temptation during moments of urgency, policymakers should not impose knee-jerk reforms that could make the problem worse: we all should listen to the students who have been dealing with a school safety crisis for years and let them lead.
Please join the Schott Foundation and Communities for Just Schools Fund for a series of three webinars that take a holistic approach to the problems of classroom safety, policing, and the school-to-prison pipeline — and how they interact with larger systemic inequities surrounding race, gender, sexuality and class. Every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment: the presenters below will show us how we can get there. And join the conversation on Twitter with #GrassrootsEd!
For decades, educators, parents and students have been pushing for the supports that provide young people with stability and give them evidence that our society cares about them and is committed to their success. Yet, evidence shows that we have cared more about assessing and standardizing our young people than institutionalizing the cross-sector supports that are necessary to create the types of loving systems where all students will have an opportunity to learn and thrive.
A few months before the tragic shooting of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the young gunman attended his mother’s funeral and was asked if he was upset. His response should provide us insight into the road that disconnected him from his humanity: “I’m just upset that no one cared to show up.” We need no clearer evidence of the fact that hurt people are more likely to hurt people.
I was recently interviewed by a local urban newspaper following the tragic shooting of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The first question was, “What can schools do to stop a shooter who comes to their school?” Whether the journalist just phrased the question badly or was resolved that this is a new reality – the question hit me the same. How to stop a shooter when they’re at a school is the wrong question to ask. After calmly responding “nothing,” I explained to the journalist that if a distraught individual is able to arm themselves with an AR-15 automatic rifle and desires to use that on school grounds, it is very likely that unnecessary casualties would follow.
The question we should be asking is: “What can we do to impact the factors that lead to such a horrific act of violence?”
In the midst of our current challenges and unique political moment, it is necessary to declare a new day in America for our young people. America’s new day must start by acknowledging the fact that providing all children an opportunity to learn requires that we provide them with the supports they need to thrive outside the school, starting at birth.
Throughout American history, the policies and practices that created opportunity gaps from birth have been baked into the ecosystem of local and state systems. It is well documented that many of these policies and practices were rooted in implicit racial bias at best, and explicit racism and hate at worst. Even today, far too many of the the policies and practices that govern how cities manage and resource housing, education, healthcare, transportation, workforce development, criminal justice, and civic engagement reinforce inequity in outcomes for children and families of color compared to their White peers by creating a system of barriers to success across all facets of a child’s living and learning environments from the time of their birth.
Today, our best shot for healing communities of their achievement gap is by addressing the larger living climate opportunity gaps. Likewise, our best chance for supporting healing in communities harmed by practices rooted in hate is through current practices that create loving systems.
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