#BlackLivesMatter in Education WeekFebruary 2, 2021
This week, we celebrate the fourth annual BLM at School week, kicking off Black History Month. This week of action is dedicated to bringing in the values of the Black Lives Matter movement into our schools, broadly focused on improving the educational experience of students of color.
We know that quality education is important for all students and opens the door to opportunity. Yet, there still exists a large opportunity gap in educational attainment between students from higher and lower socio-economic backgrounds, and between white and black and brown students, with minimal changes for decades.
As an organization, we prioritize educational equity, which is tied to racial equity. However, being a nonprofit is not an abdication of our responsibility to do more, and to make sure that equity is at the forefront of the service we provide to students AND how we operate as a business.
Here are specific actions we have taken as a start:
- We are moving some of our Saga funds into a national Black owned bank.
- We have integrated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging training for our Fellows to explore how biases impact instruction. We will continue to pursue this in the year ahead with conviction.
- We commit to developing a marketing and communications strategy with equity at the forefront. Step by step we are eliminating deficit-based language and phrases or tones that reflect prejudiced, stereotyped or discriminatory views of particular people or groups.
- Our Interim Director of Diversity Equity and inclusion works alongside Senior Leaders as well as a cross department DEIB team to activate the voices of our personnel and to propel the organization forward.
- We are investing in DEIB expert(s) to partner with leadership to establish our strategy.
- We are taking a look at performance management and compensation to build consistency and equity in growth opportunities and pay.
- We are developing interviewing resources for our Talent team and hiring managers to increase consistency and equity in hiring practices.
The thirteen guiding principles of the BLM movement are used to inform the actions schools across the US are focusing on this week, courtesy of the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice. When fully utilized, they create space for reflection and honest conversations, allowing every Black student and educator to grow and thrive.
By focusing on these principles, for this week, and this month, and beyond, we can honor our Black students and their unique experience in the US education system. People often forget that it was as late as the 1960s that most African-American students were educated in fully segregated schools that were funded at a fraction of the rate as schools serving white students. This educational inequity didn’t just disappear once schools became desegregated— it’s the same challenge our Black students face today, and the same inequity Saga works to eliminate.
We envision an education system in which every student has the opportunity to reach and exceed their greatest potential. We believe that potential can be unlocked through supportive relationships and by building a sense of belonging and confidence in math. It’s been shown that high school math is a gatekeeper for graduating high school. When students start to fall behind in math, they’re less likely to remain engaged in the rest of their classes, and eventually it can lead them to not graduate at all.
With extensive research, we’ve learned that while our Fellows focus on tutoring in math, and have incredible results of students gaining 1-2.5 years of math knowledge after a year with Saga, and improvements are felt across other classes too.
There are many factors getting in the way of student learning and there are no simple or immediate solutions. We play our part, with the aspirational goal to eliminate educational inequity through the use of evidence-based models.
We will continue to lead and manage Saga through the lens of humanity, doing everything we can to continue to make you, our students, and our partners, proud of our organization and what we stand for.