A group of over fifty ANet staff came together today to reflect on the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody, the ensuing protests, and connections to our work in light of our “Advance Equity” and “People Matter” core values. We read this article from the Atlantic for context. Boston coach Irene Shih helped facilitate the discussion. These are her closing remarks.
As I consider the events in Baltimore, I am inspired to not only confront where anger originates, but to also recognize that empowerment and self-knowledge spring from the roots of a community.
However we feel about rioting itself, the narratives that paint rioters as “thugs” or as mere “victims” are dismissive and incorrect. They overlook the rich history of what it has meant to survive and self-empower every day, in a city rife with violence against its communities of color. When we look at under-served communities, we have to look deeper than their disadvantage, anger, and victimhood. To understand Need, we have to first see Nuance. The rich humanity of any community demands that we also understand its history, its heroes, and its determination.
Here at ANet, we strive to capture and disseminate the knowledge and practices that bring about excellent instruction for students. Our sense of Equity is deeply connected to our notions of Excellence. We know that all schools are different, and our calling as an organization is to help schools learn from each other. All schools are different, all schools can learn from each other.
The embedded belief here is that knowledge exists all around us, but is often overlooked when we are so focused on Need that we no longer see Nuance. Over time, my work as a coach has taught me that instructional knowledge and good practice can live in all kinds of schools, and not just in schools where students score the highest on our interims or perform best on the state summative. It’s taken me a necessary and humbling journey to realize that my notion of excellence is incomplete. I have a lot to learn about the endurance and possibilities in each of my schools.
My journey continues. I know ours will, too.