You Have One Week, Good Luck

EDUC 205. Fall 2020. Take-home Final Exam.  Due by 10a.m. Tuesday, December 15th.

Adapted from the October 6, 2020 Wall Street Journal article, “Can School be ‘Antiracist’? A New Superintendent in Evanston, Illinois, Has a Plan”.

Context: “The difference between past and present calls for racial equity is that advocates, such as in Evanston, are demanding that Americans choose sides: Are you racist or antiracist?”

Congratulations, you’ve been hired as Dean of Culture and Climate by the Evanston Illinois School District (six-figure salary). In that role, you are expected to advise the School Board, the Superintendent, and the district’s principals on the following types of questions:

  • To begin unwinding the impact of structural racism, should students from marginalized groups—Black and Latinex students, special education students, LGBTQ students—be prioritized? Specifically, should they be given first priority for in-person learning? Why or why not?
  • Can schools provide a more equitable experience for Black and Latinex students without upsetting more privileged parents? If not, why not? If so, how?
  • Should anti-racism be taught? If not, why not? If so, how should it be taught?
  • Are math placement tests an impediment to equity? Why or why not?
  • How can school districts recruit and retain teachers who reflect the students’ demographics?
  • Should teachers factor homework completion into final grades? Why or why not?
  • What should antiracist teacher training include? Why?

The Board and Superintendent do not expect you to answer all of these questions in great detail. Rather, they have asked you to provide the district’s principals and K-8 classroom teachers with a list of “Antiracist Guiding Principles for Evanston’s School Leaders and Teachers.” These “Guiding Principles” should help them answer these questions and similar future ones that will inevitably surface over time. What essential multicultural education knowledge, skills, and/or key concepts should guide their decision-making?

Because these principals and teachers are so busy, you’ve been asked to keep your “Antiracist Guiding Principles for Evanston’s School Leaders and Teachers” document to no more than two pages single-spaced with one line between paragraphs like this document. Keep in mind that the principals and teachers will better understand your principles if you provide them with a few examples of how to apply them in the context of a few of the aforementioned questions.

Your district document will be evaluated on how thoroughly and thoughtfully you apply our course content in crafting your guiding principles. More specifically, how well you synthesize what you’ve learned from reflecting on your own K-12 school experience, Sara Ahmed’s writing, my teaching, your classmates’ contributions to discussions, and everything else you read, watched, and listened to this semester. While there isn’t one correct set of guidelines, some guidelines will ease the districts decision making more than others because of their rich substance, practical insights, and clear wording.

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