A group of ten Newton teachers, and others across the country, have banded together under the leadership of Joana Chacon, Newton South High School English teacher, to organize the Educator Anti-Racist Book Club and Discussion Series, August 8-13, 2020. The event is free although donations are encouraged to pay for the array of profound and accomplished experts who will give talks throughout the week. At last count, over 100 Newton teachers will be attending the 5-day conference (and 1000 teachers from 46 states and 8 countries), which culminates on August 13 with a session led by the esteemed Dr. Bettina Love, a lifelong educator and author of Amazon Best Selling “We Want to Do More than Survive; Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom”. https://sites.google.com/view/abolitionistteachingbookclub/home
At different times each day, the notable multi-cultural speakers will give talks on how to embed Anti-Racist teaching in Teacher Preparation Programs, School and District Leadership, Teaching Social Studies, Educator Unions, English and ELL (dual language speakers) and Foreign Language Teaching. In addition, there are sessions with practical tips for educators teaching English, Math, Science, Special Education, Early Childhood and Upper Elementary.
Joana Chacon moved to Jamaica Plain in 2019 from Seattle and has made an impact not only on her students at Newton South where she teaches English and Multicultural Literature, but nationally as the initial organizer of this event. “What happened was I suggested a book club to a couple of groups—Newton South teachers and a network I was connected with in Seattle. After we had a large group (around 30), I then reached out to Dr. (Bettina) Love to see if she could join us, not expecting much, but she responded quickly with a yes. Once she was on, I decided to expand our book club and advertise, posting to Facebook and emailing a few districts. The numbers went up within hours to include other states and countries. Our group then realized what we had was big and reached out to the original 30 members with this concept of a week-long conference that started out as book club.”
When asked if she was worried about complacency setting in when several lifetimes of experience tells us that white people slip back into white privilege once the public moment has passed, Joana said, “We make it last when we embed Anti-Racism in our education system. That’s the purpose of bringing teachers across the country together for this very practical training for teachers. It will be a long journey and very complex, but teachers can be part of the effort toward changing our society.”
The Newton organizers need your help by asking the teachers you know to show your support for teaching antiracism in NPS by sending this link (https://sites.google.com/view/abolitionistteachingbookclub/home ) to the teachers you know so that all Newton teachers can take part in this transformative effort.