March 10, 2022

Throughout Black History month in February, Black Lives Matter signs went up in some schools while the same signs in other schools were being torn down in others.

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National, state and local-level battles over Critical Race Theory, which erupted at the same time parents were getting charged up about mask-wearing and other pandemic protocols in schools, have energized conservatives and played a role in school board races and school governance. But as pandemic restrictions relax, it’s unclear how much diversity training and Black Lives Matter signs will remain an energizing force in the next round of school board races in April.

Meanwhile, school districts continue to take a variety of different approaches to teaching about diversity, even as Republicans in the Legislature have pushed legislation to ban both the teaching of “critical race theory” and anti-racism and anti-sexism staff training for employees of school districts and independent charter schools.

Find out what’s happening in Across Wisconsinwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Black Lives Matter at School is a national coalition organizing for racial justice organized by the National Education Association (NEA). School districts around the country participated in the National Black Lives Matter Week of Action this year, Jan. 31 – Feb. 4. Milwaukee Public Schools was the only Wisconsin school system to officially participate this year although other school districts may have pulled elements from the BLM at School website.

In Milwaukee, on Monday, Jan. 31, the week kicked off with a presentation by Decoteau Irby, Ph.D., associate professor of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago and author of Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership where he outlines how schools can move from being “stuck” in failure to embrace an improvement process.

Milwaukee school superintendent Keith Posley found many aspects of the action week powerful.

He observed how intensely high school students absorbed the movie, John Lewis: Good Trouble.

An intergenerational panel discussion was important, he said, because so many young people spend so little time with elders in the community, hearing what it was like growing up Black in years past.

Pushback

“NEA Demands: Justice For Black Lives” states NEA EdJustice, the sponsor of Black Lives Matter at School.