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Black Lives Matter. And they matter in the classroom.

Matthew Gross
Jun 3, 2020

“As teachers who function as caretakers, truth-seekers and advocates of justice, we can acknowledge how the threat of justice in one community is, to borrow from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a threat to justice in every community. We have a civic responsibility to be educated about Black Lives Matter and, as we learn, we must teach.”

Jamilah Pitts

Fellow educators,

Right now in America, we are witnessing the result of 400 years of systemic racism play out across every state in the nation. And when we talk about systemic racism, no institution is exempt.

So while the nation’s ire is justifiably aimed at racism within the criminal justice system, we’re focused on the education system. We must address two awful truths: that many Black students and educators are in pain, and that institutional and individual racism is pervasive within our schools. Now more than ever, it is our moral obligation to support those experiencing trauma, and to cut racism at the root before it spreads outside the walls of our schools into larger society. Newsela’s 300+ employees and I, many of whom are former educators, share that charge.

Throughout the nation, many are feeling helpless, maybe even hopeless—but we know that as a part of the educator community, we are anything but helpless. Our role in society dictates the work before us. And at Newsela, our role is to give teachers and students diverse perspectives, unheard narratives, and other content that educates them on the issues, alongside the tools to discuss and take action. 

Specifically, we’ll continue to cover the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the nationwide protests, along with instructional supports attached to many of our articles.

Our team has also created this guide on teaching the news about the protests.

While there are many resources on Newsela to help you teach about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement and provide social-emotional support to your students, we’ll be working over the coming days to make those resources easier to find and incorporate into lessons.

After the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Baltimore-based researchers Stephanie A. Flores-Koulish and Jessica T. Shiller wrote: “When major social and/or political events happen, young people have few outlets to discuss, process, and understand implications.” 

School is one of those few outlets. It must be the venue, and education must be the process, to advance anti-racist principles. When it comes to dismantling racism, we are committed to continue helping educators make the best instructional choices.

With you,

Matthew Gross

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