Social Justice Commitment

Our Vision of Multicultural Education and a Social Justice Commitment (Work in Progress)
 ABC: Achievement, Belonging and Commitment to Transformation
 
The “Standards of a Multicultural School System” are listed on page 2 ofthe same document. Institutional Practices, Curriculum, Instruction,Assessment, Affirmative Action and Professional Development are the sixindicators presented. Each focus area is defined and criterionreferenced. (See attached reference) Efforts to actively link socialjustice education across the standards have engaged the district’seducators and many community members, as well, since the BAMSSInitiative was adopted in 1993. We can and should point to markers ofmeaningful multicultural progress within the system and broadercommunity since 1993. At the same time, we must assume responsibilityfor the collective efforts that have “stalled out” or more directly,failed to promote opportunities and equitable change in the school livesof our students. It is our knowledge of those lost opportunities thatinform and propel our next steps

 A cultural shift in our school system is indicated. The shiftproposed targets the collective and visible implementation of “acurriculum for social responsibility in which the balance shifts awayfrom the individual and towards the social whole” (Pitt 1998). Teachingand learning that is built on attention to both the cognitive andaffective domains is essential.
Transformation will require us to infuse content curriculum with uniformand practiced socially just behaviors. Students and the adults in theirschool days will be asked to reflect, analyze, instruct and assessequity routinely from an agreed- upon reference point. For example,questions included in ongoing dialogues will systematically include:“Who am I? How am I connected to others and what are myresponsibilities? What is my place in the world? Where am I headed? Whobenefits? Who is marginalized? Whose interests are being served? Howcould things be done differently?”
 
Pitt clarifies the difference between dominant language discussions ofsocial justice and marginal language usage in reference to socialjustice. It is her contention that we need to focus more on the marginallanguage. “Social cohesion, social capital, community, reciprocity,trust and cooperation,” is conceptual language that acknowledges andrespects individual autonomy while simultaneously connecting each of usto personal and collective responsibility. The emphasis is on the whole.The language in italics (termed marginal) is preferred as it moves usforward and away from historical and educationally discriminatoryassumptions so well documented in public education previously.
 
No social justice commitment exists without social responsibility at itscore. The implementation of this commitment connects “me” to the“other”, “us” to “them”, “educator” to “student & family” andintegration of our expressed vision into discernable actions andoutcomes. The district’s implementation of a social justice commitmentfor students and staff must (cited in Pitts, originated with Giddens1994 and edited for use here): 

  • repair damaged solidarities and reconcile autonomy and interdependence
  • recognize the importance of the discussion of ethics, “life politics”
  •  encourage individuals and groups to make things happen, “generative politics”
  • create a participatory democracy where issues are discussed respectfully and transparently
  • develop conditions that empower participants as opposed to merely dispensing
  • confront the role violence plays at all levels of human interactions

 
Larger blocks of time for professional development on all levels(Elementary, Middle and High School) are needed in order for staff toacquire an understanding of the Social Justice Commitment and to makechanges in the expectations for students and associated questioningtechniques for analytical inquiry. This is an ongoing process and shouldbe part of the curriculum/instruction plans across the district for theforeseeable future.
 
In conclusion, the Gallup Organization Education Mission Statement,brought to the district’s attention by the Superintendent in 2002,speaks succinctly to the desired outcomes of our social justicecommitment. It states, “Our greatest contribution is to be sure there isa teacher in every classroom who cares that every student, every day,learns and grows and feels like a real human being.” The significance ofteaching to and learning from the cognitive and affective domainscontinues to increase our hopefulness for change that respects andbenefits all learners.  

 
Our full Social Justice Committment document is attached and is still a work in progress.