Published September 1, 2020
To start the academic year, the Graduate School of Education will temporarily cancel all classes and activities for two days this week. However, learning will continue, and in its place the school will hold mandatory instruction on an issue gripping the nation: understanding the factors that have led to the countless murders of Black people.
The virtual event on Sept. 3-4 — “Make Good Trouble Now: Teach-In for Racial Equity” — will employ the "teach-in," a form of activism that began during the anti-war movement of the 1960s, to educate faculty, staff and students about the root causes and effects of racial injustice and systemic racism, particularly in education.
The discussions are part of a larger national dialogue about structural racism sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, and reignited by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23.
By temporarily suspending coursework and office work, the teach-in will allow the school to promote dialogue about critical affairs outside the classroom and regular curriculum, demonstrate the academic relevance of social justice, and outline concrete actions and specific policies for working toward change within the community.
“The Graduate School of Education recognizes that it cannot make good on its mission and vision, or on its commitment to equity, diversity, justice and inclusion, without ensuring that all faculty, staff and students have a more fundamental understanding of the systematic violence against Black people and the role that education has played and continues to play in perpetuating systems of oppression,” said Dean Suzanne Rosenblith.
“Change is both an individual and collective responsibility,” she said. “As an institution of higher education, we continue this work through the radical act of teaching and learning.”
The event, which is also open to GSE alumni and invited community partners and friends, will take place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Friday. Participation is required for GSE faculty, staff and students.
More than 80 sessions led by faculty, scholars and community partners are themed around racial injustice and systemic racism. The teach-in aims to utilize collective knowledge to begin dismantling institutionalized racism in education and society.
The teach-in will leverage the expertise of scholars and staff from schools and units across the entire university to conduct programming. The event will also highlight several keynote speeches from award-winning authors and renowned activists and educators.
“This is not the intervention. It is a first step of many things to come in the months ahead,” said event chair Raechele Pope, associate dean of faculty and student affairs, and chief diversity officer in the GSE.
“The teach-in is an opportunity for us to learn, reflect and strategize on ways we — individually and collectively — can take action. Our goal is that it will help to provide us all with the awareness, knowledge, tools and resources we need to advance, address, confront and begin to dismantle systemic and institutional racism and other forms of oppression,” Pope said.
“In the midst of two global pandemics — COVID-19 and racism — along with a global fiscal crisis, we are witnessing community activism and calls for systemic and structural change that are not going to go away. The teaching and learning that will take place in this teach-in are more important than ever,” she said. “We are literally shutting down normal operations to focus on these important issues. This just isn’t done. Some may think we are lucky that we can afford to shut down normal operations. The fact of the matter is, we can’t afford not to. It’s simply that critical.”
Featured sessions and speakers include: