BCREC 2017 was RACCE’s first annual two-day conference hosted in Waterbury with Waterbury educators, parents, and students. The goal was to provide a safe space for each stakeholder group to address educational dilemmas and envision solutions for myriad issues affecting our community. Our intentions were to place a diverse range of voices, experiences, and responsibilities in close proximity to each other and provide support as well as encouragement to be vulnerable. The first step to solving injustice is accepting that injustices exist. Our experience tells us that this process requires honesty, safety, and expert practitioners to guide us.
We targeted local experts with proven track records to join us in facilitating four unique workshops and breakout sessions. Chemay Morales-James of My Reflection Matters kicked off BCREC 2017 with an eye-opening session titled Uncovering Racism in the American Public Education System. Knowing our participants would have to come to terms with the expansive racist history of American education we made sure to leave enough time for discussions and activities that could ignite solution-side thinking as well as a space to start the healing process for past harms.
“Fantastic presentation, relevant and engaging… personalized to local issues and opportunities to advance equity…”
“This [professional development] should be in our schools and in every district in CT…”
Kait Marcil led our Wellness workshops. Kait is a licensed child yoga instructor and a licensed therapist who operates Lotus Counseling in Watertown, CT. This session was designed to encourage our participants to rethink the “how’s” and “why’s” of classroom management strategy, as well as the potential impact of yoga and meditation, could have on educators, students, and schools.
“[A] nice reminder that we need to address Wellness as well as factual learning in our schools.”
“Our schools need to learn how to incorporate this [yoga] in classrooms…”
On day two Dr. Arlene Young, one of our co-founders leveraged her professional experiences as an LCSW, educator and advocate to introduce the concepts of Urban Trauma and how to address it by using culturally competent educational practices. Dr. Young reviewed our participants ACE’s survey and delved into how safes spaces are created by having more open and honest interactions with each other. Accepting and understanding that inequality impacts all of our relationships, especially the ones between teachers and students help build strong bonds in our community and in our schools.
“This entire presentation provided me/us with new insights into why we need more education in cultural competency as educators…”
“Arlene did a beautiful job at centering student voices while she covered critical information…”
Finally, RACCE co-founders Chantae K. Campbell and Robert Goodrich wrapped up our conference by making it clear what the systems level targets are. Influencing micro-level relationships are important, but making changes at the systems level is just as important. Successfully democratizing education reform requires each parent, student, and educator to think about the impact policies have on creating or limiting equitable outcomes. Each group must be responsive to our communities needs and our community must feel empowered to demand change where and when it is needed. This is why we created a portable advocacy tool that participants can use immediately. Advancing initiatives that aren’t community directed is a recipe for disaster and the way we accelerate this process is to prepare as well as support our community members, as they need it. We can’t train our way to equity, we need action!
“Building an advocacy campaign is difficult work and complex. Perhaps a full day on this subject.”
“[We need] more info on process, how do we navigate the system? [Add] more info on specific laws or links to data.”
Some key findings: Nearly 90% of participants believed the workshops offered were relevant to their lives.
Over 80% of participants believed their family, co-workers, and friends would benefit from this training.
87 % of participants believed the materials presented were culturally relevant.
If you attended please take our five question wrap-up survey by clicking here: SURVEY
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Categories: Current Issues