Hundreds of teachers at Seattle Public Schools tomorrow will wear Black Lives Matter shirts and discuss the Movement for Black Lives with their students during the district's Day of Unity, which aims to draw attention to racial equity. The action has drawn widespread attention, including both praise and criticism. As a funder focused on equity in education and as a member of the Seattle community, we wanted to share our perspective on this important moment.
The research we fund at the Raikes Foundation clearly demonstrates that allowing students to grapple with stereotypes, engage with culturally relevant material and bring all parts of themselves into school is critical to academic success. We applaud the Seattle teachers addressing this challenge by building curriculum about the Movement for Black Lives and providing their students with a platform to discuss racism. Black Lives Matter has prompted a long-overdue conversation about institutional discrimination, implicit bias, and the violence these things too often fuel. By signaling to their students that they understand the importance of this movement and what is happening outside the school building, these teachers are building better learning environments and advancing a vitally important dialogue about racial equity in this country.
We hope this dialogue extends beyond this one day and beyond the classroom as we all grapple with the inequities of society and how, together, we can build a better future for our young people.