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.
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.
In recent years, philanthropy has experienced a surge of interest in supporting racial equity across this country. It’s an encouraging trend, but our sector has a great deal of work ahead of us to counter a long history of neglect of Native American organizations. To put it in perspective: Native Americans make up 2 percent of our country’s population, yet their communities receive less than 0.3 percent of philanthropic dollars.
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.
In many ways 2017 seemed like a never-ending stream of bad news and attacks on public education. However, advocates kept up the good fight and the movement for education justice saw growth and increased capacity. Thanks to our grantee partners and allies working tirelessly in communities across the country, we’d like to share some good news!
The Schott Foundation's chief operating officer, Heidi Brooks, was recently profiled in Harvard Business School's alumni magazine, chronicling her work not just at Schott but across her entire globe-spanning career:
This report – the first of its kind – highlights the challenges facing urban Native American youth in public schools and showcases seven alternative public education programs that are having a positive impact in addressing these challenges.