In this episode, hosts Trina and Amanda discuss the topic of educational equity and the confusion surrounding its definition. They criticize the narrowing down of the term equity to only focus on racial equity, excluding other marginalized groups. They also discuss the culture wars happening in schools and the lack of teacher representation in these conversations. They also touch on the polarized state of the country and its impact on schools, as well as the need for teachers to be respected and supported.
Teachers are NOT the Problem, They are Part of the Solution
We are losing qualified teachers at a staggering rate. But, to be clear, teachers should never be blamed for the teacher turnover problems our country is facing. The shortage of teachers in America and the decrease in college students seeking a teaching career is a multifaceted and complex problem.
In this podcast series, we discuss exactly what got us to this crisis point in the U.S. education system. Click the links below to be directed to that part of the series. We recommend listening in order.
In this series, Trina, along with myself, and many other educators from diverse backgrounds will explain the many layers of what is really going on. The shortage of special education teachers and math teachers is impacting schools (especially in low-income urban areas) tremendously. But, it’s important for teachers to understand the extent of this crisis. We are losing teachers in all subject areas.
We want to give teachers an extensive look at this problem from teachers’ perspectives. This is so teachers listening can share this series with other teachers, school leadership, the media, and even the governor of their state. The need to examine the causes of the national teacher shortage has never been more important.
Amanda (00:00:00) – This is part seven of The Teacher Shortage Crisis Exposed series. Trina English and I are teachers with multiple decades combined of experience working within the U.S. education system. We are colleagues and friends, good friends. In this podcast series, we have been uncovering why teachers are leaving the profession at such staggering rates because most people writing and talking about this significant problem (that has and will have terrible reprecussions if we don’t start making effective changes now), just don’t have a full or clear understanding about what is really going on in our schools. What we’ve come to understand, by sytematically documenting it all through this podcast series is that these problems are only getting worse and attempts to change things, including the way that we’re approaching educational equity, aren’t working, because teachers are, per usual, being exluded from conversations about how to change our schools for the better. This series is our forceful attempt to include oursevles, no holds barred, no apologies. We will speak out and insert our voices, no matter how much others may try to cut us out of the conversation. If you haven’t listened to the other episodes in this series, I highly recommend that you do. Part one is about the outdated and oppressive teacher pay scale and how to fix it. Part two was an interview with a new teacher who chose to leave the profession. Part three was about the high cost of becoming a teacher. Part four was about teacher induction programs and how red tape is overburdening new teachers. Part five was about outsourcing teacher expertise to canned curriculum, and part six was about an ESL teacher’s stand against canned curriculum and what happened because of it. Finally, this episode is about educational equity and all of these terms that are being thrown around in our schools or being banned. We really get into it in this episode.
If you’re a teacher who has a story around any of these topics, please contact me. Go to amandawritenow.com and click “contact” in the navigation menu. We’d love to have you on as a guest to tell your story.
Intro: Welcome to the Empower Students Now! Podcast, a podcast about equity, neurodiversity, mindfulness, and student engagement. There’s a lot that needs to change in our education system. The good news is teachers have the power to make these changes now.
Trina (00:01:59) – So today we’re talking about equity in K-12 education. But what is this? What are we talking about in this episode? Are we talking about how we help students with learning disabilities, students who have mental health-related issues, students struggling with bereavement, students who are unhoused, students of racial minorities, students or LGBTQ? Plus. And the reason why I’m asking these questions is because it’s very unclear at times who we’re talking about. And so for the purposes of this episode, we are actually referring to all of this and more. We’re talking about all historically marginalized identities as well as really any reason why a kid shows up with a different set of opportunities to learn at school.
Trina (00:02:49) – And the fact that these students experience our society in our schools in a manner which impedes their learning and personal outcomes, which is beyond their control, we are saying that it is the job of the schools to mitigate the harms that these kids face in society as best we can by offering assistance at school in a variety of ways and also by recognizing there are things that we are doing in the schools which is perpetuating the problem. But the term equity has really been conflated by K-12 leaders to mean just one thing. So we have this broad understanding of what equity is. But in the modern use of K-12 leadership, it’s just a conflated term of just racial equity. And I want to say this very delicately Racial equity is deserving of entire spheres of reality where that’s all that’s being discussed. But when we say we’re talking about all equity and then we only really mean racial equity, that’s where it becomes problematic. So they say this word and it covers a lot of ground, but it’s code for just this one group.
Trina (00:03:59) – And they are really only referring to certain races and certain types of problems when they bring it up. Really the only ones that get to create that conversation and the people with privilege. And I’ve asked why this is in different settings and have been told a few different things about why only racial equity work is being discussed and why only specific kinds of problems of racial equity issues in K-12 are discussed. And I’ve heard I’ve heard different answers. One is that they think that this issue is bigger than all of the others. Other times I’ve been told that people aren’t really ready to delve into equity work like it’s beyond their comfort level. And this is just all very problematic because privileging one group over another not only hurts members of those other groups who are also historically marginalized, it further alienates them from the word. When they hear equity and they don’t see themselves discussed or represented in that work. But it also hurts members of the targeted group, the group that you’re trying to help really in two ways. One, that group becomes tokenized and seen as a one-dimensional identity when in fact they also hold other identities that are historically marginalized as well.
Trina (00:05:16) – And to tokenize an historically marginalized identity in your equity work, it’s to hold a group up, the one group that you want to privilege in these conversations and show them out and take them out as a parade in front of your campus and in front of your school culture to make those people in power feel really good about themselves without having to challenge their authority and their privilege. People with privilege in places where equity work is valued, decide who gets the attention and what issues will also be addressed. The other identities that they also hold in the targeted group are not honored or considered further reducing their humanity and to just one sliver of who they are and what places where this work is not even afoot at all. Like where equity isn’t even being discussed, or even worse, in districts where our schools are seen as entry points into waging wounds in the culture war, like places where like, no, we’re not going to do equity work. And no, you don’t get to have these conversations. And yes, let’s wage the wars against our kids even further in these schools.
Trina (00:06:22) – Right? I’m here to say that no teacher, regardless of their political stripes, religious beliefs or opinions about any of these identities that we’re going to talk about today wants to use schools as a battleground to punish kids for being different. No teacher wants that. Look, we all have a variety of opinions and a variety of values and worldviews, but no one wants our schools used in this way. No, we have all heard about social justice-based reforms in education. Right? It’s been in the news a lot. For example, we’ve heard terms like critical race theory and reparations, and these words are being thrown around as our conversations about non-binary bathrooms at school on either protecting or outing Lgbtqia identities. And folks are just up in arms about whether or not these topics should be addressed in our schools or if they are how they should be handled. And these. And. Other critical conversations about social justice-based reforms are the basis of the culture wars that are playing out in our schools. But not so much by teachers and kids.
Trina (00:07:37) – Because remember, just like all the other conversations we’ve talked about, teacher pay, teacher preparations, can’t curriculum. We’re not a part of those conversations. Teachers don’t get to shape, much less lead them. We’re just sort of ebbing and flowing in the culture war tides because everyone around us thinks they get to create the conversations for us and for our kids. This is a place that where our larger society is able to wage these wars and the kids and teachers are just kind of caught in the crosshairs and are really under attack. So whether you’re in a red state, a blue state, a place where this conversation is happening or a place where the conversation isn’t happening, in a way, it doesn’t really matter where you are because it’s not happening authentically anywhere. We hear terms like equity or even like what we hear to DEI, which stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. But to a lot of us as teachers, it seems like folks do not have a clear understanding of what these terms mean. Right? Yeah. And if you feel that way, I want to say you’re not alone and you’re not stupid.
Amanda (00:09:00) – I agree. I think they’re really, really loaded terms. And we’re going to talk about, you know, the continuum of this approaching these issues soon and how different schools are approaching it or not at all. Yeah. And I think teachers are just kind of getting this lip service and, you know, some school districts are using a lot of these terms, but the actual like, what’s what’s actually happening in classrooms every day isn’t really being considered when these terms are being thrown around. But I do want to say one thing too about in our district, we have this way of changing our signature. And I absolutely love the information. So any time that you email someone within our district, yeah, there’s a lot of really important information that comes with your signature. Trina and I actually took one of those.
Trina (00:10:06) – My signature to put too much stuff.
Amanda (00:10:09) – Because a lot of teachers in our district and like in California where we’re at on this continuum, is a lot of people are using these terms, talking about these terms, but it’s still problematic even in California, where we’re supposedly a progressive state. So a lot of people identify their pronouns in their signature, right? She her, they and then they have a link that says why this is important. And a lot of teachers are asking their students to give them their pronouns, your signature. And these are small ways that teachers are making a difference, says undeclared. Undeclared? Yeah. Why? Because it is not safe in our schools yet to ask people to be declaring their pronouns. And I took that. That’s in my signature too. And it’s an affront to people who are sharing their pronouns and expecting others to as well. It’s like, okay, teachers, yeah, we have power. We But even teachers aren’t really that safe sharing, sharing these things either like their neurodivergent or their gender pronouns or their sexual preferences or whatever.
Amanda (00:11:21) – Like all of that is still not that safe for us. So I mean, that’s kind of what I have to say about it. Like we’re being left out of the conversation. But teachers like you and I are finding these tiny little ways to just insert, poke people into the right direction. Yes, big and small ways.
Trina (00:11:41) – Like my own personal practice is I’ve developed an entire equity-based pilot. But, you know, when teachers roll their eyes, when they hear about Dei, it’s not because they’re dumb and they don’t know. They don’t understand the theory behind why it needs to happen, or it’s because they’ve watched these pendulum swing back and forth and they’ve heard educational leaders like Forward their own careers over implementing things in a half-assed way. And the work that they bring to these districts doesn’t feel like accurate, correct, authentic to the teachers. And so that’s a perfect example, right, of like we were told, Amanda, we were told by an interim superintendent, everybody declare your pronouns. Else.
Trina (00:12:34) – We need to be a district that has a progressive approach to gender identity. And I’m thinking, no. Making everyone declare their pronouns is the icing at the top of a very high cake. After we’ve done a lot of work making our campuses safe. You don’t just say we don’t just don’t do the work and then say, Everybody declare your pronouns because you’re forcing students and staff, school community members to either out themselves to a hostile community or lie. And if you look, you just see pages and pages and gobs and gobs of cisgender people declaring their pronouns, feeling really good about themselves, giving themselves a pat on the back. Uh, no, that’s not the work. The work is creating safety and inclusion for the Lgbtqia students and staff. And look, you can have your own opinion about how correct or incorrect it is to be Lgbtqia. That’s not what this podcast is about. Trying to change your mind, make you a lefty-leaning liberal. That’s not what we’re doing here. But I know that, you know, because I listened to teachers all over the country say this is regardless of our personal, religious, whatever opinions we want, our kids, however, they show up every day to be safe, to feel supported, and to be able to learn and get the best learning outcomes.
Trina (00:14:05) – That’s all this is about.
Amanda (00:14:08) – That’s it.
Trina (00:14:09) – And people put their egos involved in the mix. And it leads to these ridiculous ideas of everybody declare your pronouns. I won’t do it. I won’t do it until it’s safe for everyone. How? How privileged of me as a cisgender female to say my pronouns are her and she and hers. Yeah, that’s great. Um, and then we, you know, force our students to out themselves to us and use their pronouns and kids, you know, we’ll often be out to only me. And I have to constantly code switch in the classroom and use different pronouns and I’m talking to the whole room versus when I’m talking to themselves versus when I’m talking to their parents. So unless you’re really willing to do all of that and you’re ready, you should tread very carefully. You know, I think that’s just your example. Amanda is just one really cool and important way to like look at how oppressive the equity work is happening in K-12. Right? Yeah, but about like not using these terms correctly or people having very confusing ideas about what is quote unquote equity work.
Trina (00:15:18) – We’re going to sort that out today. We’re going to try. We’re going to try. And if you have criticisms, please email us, respond to us. We’re also going to have other guests on. They’re going to going to bring their own examples of problems in equity work to future episodes. But if you haven’t dug into this kind of thinking as a teacher before or if you’re honestly kind of close off to it because of what you notice as hypocrisy. From educational leaders then. And if you know nothing at all, then this episode is for you. Our goal today
is to speak plainly and directly about the topic. So to do so, we have to say, Ooh, this is a hot button issue. We’re hearing a lot of fiery rhetoric in the news and in social justice and education. And because teachers are not allowed to create any of the frameworks we use, including and especially for this topic, everyone thinks they get a say. Meanwhile, all we the teachers want to do is create an emotionally and physically safe space for our kids.
Trina (00:16:22) – But since this is part of larger issues that the adults in our world are very polarized around, and folks are using our schools as battlegrounds in this culture war, we need to say that they do this because they can. It’s because it’s easier to bring up the stuff in classrooms because our entire K-12 process is open to political debate. So you may not be able to like insert your thoughts about equity into the political process for adults or insert your ideas into your adult workspaces. But you can in K-12 because it’s open to everyone, right? Um, and I’ve explained why this is before, but it’s tied to that systemic sexism that because we’re largely a profession, we were, we a profession was created for females. And so we’ve never been given access to the creation of the standards of practice for our profession. And the point is, adults who do the work in schools are often the chief culprits of stoking I’m sorry. The adults who do not work in our schools are often the chief culprits of stoking these flames.
Trina (00:17:26) – They don’t seem to care about the other very deep and systemic issues in our schools, which are desperately in need of their passion and attention too. And if you have half a brain and you work in our schools, you know that our main goals are to keep kids safe and teach them the content, period. If kids show up to school drowning in trauma stemming from the culture wars going on outside of our classrooms, it’s our job to help them leave that crap outside and just love the kid for who they are so they can feel safe and calm in our presence. This is it. They cannot learn if they are scared and triggered. Right. And we were talking before, Amanda, about the trauma informed approach you were bringing up that like we came back from the pandemic and we were given like a two day PD professional development on trauma informed practices. And then we went right back to work as business as usual, didn’t we? Yeah.
Amanda (00:18:20) – Yeah, grades are due.
Amanda (00:18:22) – Syllabuses. Syllabi. Hand those out back to school night.
Amanda (00:18:27) – Like, what’s our first unit, Miss Werner?
Trina (00:18:30) – Yeah, totally. Yeah. You know, in all of this, it’s clear that adults forget how hard it is just to be a kid. You know, we put blinders on and move into adulthood, and we forget what that was really like. If you ask them the kids what they need from us at school, it wouldn’t be this show. It wouldn’t be all this culture wars and the adults screaming at each other in school board meetings. People everywhere in the US are more polarized than ever because, I mean, I feel like it’s a cold civil war. You know what I mean? Amanda, When I say cold civil war, what do you think?
Amanda (00:19:12) – There’s no, well, weapons, but words can be weapons. There’s no, like, weapons or anything, really. Like, no one’s, like, fighting physically. Um, but there is a lot of fighting going on between two sides, right? Like, that’s what I think of.
Trina (00:19:29) – Yeah. And that’s a cold war, right? So it’s like growing hostilities and tensions between the far right and the far left. Yeah. And they, you know, I say they, I mean the people with all the political power are elected officials. They can’t talk to each other and they have forgotten how to be civil and how to create collaborative conversations. And that is trickling down. Like you guys, I’m speaking to the politicians. The mess that you have in Washington, DC is it’s bleeding into our schools and the adults are very polarized right now and that is affecting our kids. So I refer to the situation in the United States right now is a cold civil war because I think it’s very accurate. And, you know, I certainly have my own views on these issues and they are deep and stem from a lifetime of fierce exploration of the truth, like a capital T, okay. But my political views or any educator’s views are not applicable here. I tell my kids it’s my job to teach them how to think and not what to think.
Trina (00:20:35) – And I teach them the step by step skills to seek out and fully digest only highly credible sources. I wish I could sidestep this with just sixth graders, but I can’t. I have to teach them about bias. And I have to tell them that today’s grown ups, their parents often are an example of what not to do. What do you think about that? About sometimes using us as an example of what not to do? Amanda.
Amanda (00:21:07) – I love it. I mean, I just it’s it’s hard because, like, where are you getting your information? You know? And I really think that whatever news sources you are consuming, that’s going to influence the way that you think. Yeah. Um, and, and I think that in schools it’s a really great place to give kids information that conflicts, you know, like from various sources and then have kids kind of develop their own opinions about it and just exposing kids to the different sides. And that is the beauty of, you know, being a teacher is, yeah, you do have to leave your own views outside of the classroom.
Amanda (00:21:58) – And I think a lot of political leaders think that teachers are like kind of bleeding hearts, you know, and very liberal and do bring their political views into the classroom. But they’re wrong. Like I am very, very careful about what I say to my students. I mean, sometimes they’ll ask me really blunt questions like, who did you vote for and things like that, you know? Yeah. And or like, what’s your religion, Miss Warner? And I’m like, you know, I’m not I have to remain, you know, completely unbiased, you know, and like, neutral on these issues. But I’m happy to hear what your views are and, you know, and like facilitate kind of debate, healthy debating in our classroom. So yeah, that’s those are my thoughts.
Trina (00:22:49) – I mean, that was so eloquent because that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Like despite what the public thinks, we’re not like treating our teaching experience as a pulpit to indoctrinate your kids into our political or religious ideology.
Trina (00:23:06) – Like we’re just not doing that. There isn’t time for that. We have so much else to teach. But they do. Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead.
Amanda (00:23:14) – Well, and I think our signatures and us, you know, kind of having a more divergent view of that or like not necessarily a very common I feel like proves it, you know, because we’re kind of like almost going against the the liberals who are like, let’s share our pronouns and, you know, be super like open and like all of you know what I mean? Like we’re even questioning the liberal side of, of that, like those signatures of sharing your pronouns because I think that’s kind of like a more, like Democrats are doing that more than like Republicans. But we’re saying, hey, guess what? It’s not safe. That’s not safe for us to do right now. And so we’re going against even the liberal side. I feel like there’s evidence there right there that.
Trina (00:24:08) – We’re oh, no, totally. I mean, I think it’s all like people who are exceptionally privileged in the world who want to like earn their progressive stripes, show up in these conversations and don’t realize they take over.
Trina (00:24:24) – They take over these spaces and they don’t include other stakeholders. They don’t include the other identities for whom they’re trying to help. Right? So it’s a bunch of cisgender straight people creating that conversation, right? Yeah. Um, but as like. Just talking about like where all these bad ideas are coming from. And you were talking just a second ago, too, about like making sure you’re getting telling your kids you get your information from only the most credible sources. I just got to say that like a lot of us have fallen prey to media out there, which has absolutely targeted our weaknesses as a nation. Outside forces who closely investigated our society found weaknesses in it, cracks in the quality of our life indicators, which is something I’ve mentioned before and I will mention again, these are like things like the US life expectancy rates, our infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, and they’ve noticed that we live in a very segregated society, like we are weak because of our quality of life being so low.
Trina (00:25:29) – Right? And that’s something again, that seems like a well-kept secret, but we do not have a very successful country in terms of how well we are all living. And in fact, our quality of life indicators are actually falling and dipping. And yet we’re the most wealthy nation in the world. So there’s a lot of motivation for outside forces to stoke those flames against us. And there’s a lot of opportunity to because we are a group of people that are have a growing, growing unhappiness with each other. And we’ve been carefully spoon fed a diet of mistrust and downright hatred of one another for a very long time now from within two, which is was targeted at keeping wealth in the hands of the few and the outside sources who wanted to destabilize our society, preyed on that, and they succeeded. We are so angry at each other now that we cannot even hold civil conversations with one another in government. Right. And in the beginning, when we talked about why we have to fix the teacher shortage issue, this was one of the big reasons why everywhere, especially her two democracy, is under attack.
Trina (00:26:38) – We need thoughtful, highly literate people to get us back on track. The reality is that this polarization of our nation is leading to our teachers being attacked from really all sides of this debate. Right. And contributing to the shortage. They are so embattled, they are leaving the profession. Our teachers are barely holding on here, folks. And I’m hoping now that we are this many episodes and then we can see why yet this is another reason why people don’t even want to come into our profession. I mean, when I say that a man I know, you know you feel me, right? Like it feels really hard. I mean, you’ve been under attack in the past. I know, but, like, we feel like we can’t win.
Amanda (00:27:20) – Yeah, for sure. And. Or, yeah, that we don’t have a say, but we have a lot of knowledge that’s not being really respected, or it sometimes feels like we’re all so busy. No one’s really digging in to like what we could actually do to make positive changes in our schools.
Amanda (00:27:46) – Like just it’s a systemic idea, right? Like that. All of these problems are so interconnected and like, who’s really in charge and like, how can change really happen in such a like, entrenched system where, like, teachers aren’t really they I feel and I also feel like a lot of times leaders think teachers are overburdened, so let’s not burden them more by like tapping into their expertise or whatever, which is ridiculous because that’s so empowering when leaders ask teachers like and I don’t really think this has ever truly happened, like with authenticity, that they’re actually going to use what we say to make a change. You know what I mean? Like they ask us, but it’s like they’re just doing it to like, look good and make us feel good and.
Trina (00:28:37) – So true, like this kind of bullshit, you know, dog and pony show of let’s let the teachers say what they want to say about this, that or the other, including equity. And we’re going to pretend like we’re going to listen.
Trina (00:28:51) – Then we’re just going to do our own thing. Like, I’m so tired of being pulled into conversations where I like, prepare and give my information and my knowledge and my wisdom, and then it’s just not even used, you know, like, that’s really insulting. And what you were just describing is the very paternalistic attitude that educational leaders have about teachers. Like we can’t handle creating frameworks because we have too much going on, so let’s do it for them. They’re barely holding out. No, we’re barely holding on because we’re we’re dealing with the mess that you, the educational leaders have created. If you will let us, we will guide you to a more humanizing and successful way to be like, I am so pissed when I hear this idea. Because you. Got it. But you were saying it out of the mouths of other people that creating a curriculum is too much work for a teacher. You know, reforming school discipline, addressing the school to prison pipeline is beyond the intellectual capacities of a teacher.
Trina (00:29:55) – I’m here to say right now we are the only ones who can do it. Everybody else needs to shut up and listen because we have the keys to fixing those problems. We’re the only one. And the kids, right? The kids themselves. Yes. Anyone who’s not working on the ground floor in our classrooms needs to step back and maybe facilitate, but not lead like they need to listen to us, Right?
Amanda (00:30:20) – Absolutely. And I love that you said to the kids, too, because the kids. Yeah, they’re the victims, too, of all of this. And yeah, I think your next question is, are our schools responsible for the oppression of our kids?
Trina (00:30:38) – Yeah, they are. They’re very good question. They’re not just like receiving oppression out in the world and then coming to school traumatized by it. They’re being retraumatized in our school. Yeah. And does that need to be addressed? Yes. So although we’re critical of what K12 equity frameworks are doing, we’re still saying it needs to be done right.
Trina (00:31:00) – There are basically two ways of dealing with it, not addressing it at all, and even being openly hostile to social justice problems in schools. And then there’s these Bologna frameworks we’re going to be talking about. Two, right? So who gets to make the action plans? How do we decide who gets the help that they need to be made whole? So we’re back to some of the same old themes we’ve already talked about. Folks on the ground floor are not brought into the work. So what winds up being brought to schools isn’t effective and can even be harmful. Sometimes that is the case. Our attempts at trying to address equity issues in K-12 tend to be almost as bad as the original sources of oppression in the first place. Yes, this goes back to the fact that teachers are not included in the work as they should be, but it also intersects with the issue of the oppression of just kids. Right? They aren’t asked, just like we said before, and they’re ignored and they are not included in developmentally appropriate ways in the process either.
Trina (00:31:59) – So sometimes we bring them in and we expect them to act like little adults, or sometimes we bring them in and we don’t honor their contributions. And oftentimes they’re not brought in at all. And then when teachers see districts forking over big money for what we see as foolish plans delivered by consultants like equity consultants, and they can see that these plans are not going to work, or if they find their pleas for their justice, for their kids aren’t being heard all together because their district doesn’t want to hear the word equity at all. Right. The situation on the ground floor is utter insanity. And this has got. So we have really these two spaces. One, a district has strong rhetoric but is not implementing inclusive and authentic plans. Or two, a district is just totally opposed to having any conversations at all and won’t see that the kids are showing up everyday traumatized that certain students have show up every day with lower opportunities to learn or even they’re openly hostile to the work. Right? So you got a red state and a blue state scenario and both are wrong.
Trina (00:33:11) – What do you mean? That’s a pretty bold thing to say, Amanda. Like that. Nobody’s doing it right. What do you.
Amanda (00:33:18) – Think? Well, and we’re in a blue state and we are, you know, experiencing what that’s like. And it’s really hard sometimes, you know, thinking about what teachers go through and say, Florida versus what we’re going through here in California or like Texas, you know, And I think a lot of teachers, they’re kind of comparing how bad it is, you know, in different places, like, oh, you California teachers, you don’t even know how bad it can get. And I think they’re right, you know, like I mean, and I taught in Utah for a while, too, for five years. I don’t know if you knew that in a Title one school. Yeah, Just I know that it can be really, really. I’ve definitely been in schools that it was. Terrible. And the way that teachers were treated was just terrible.
Amanda (00:34:10) – Like and I have a friend who teaches in in Vegas and they don’t even have a contract right now. And like at her school, three teachers quit in first three weeks of school. They were just like, I’m done. And I know that it’s horrible like but I feel like that we’re all teachers in America and there’s problems everywhere. And comparing how bad it is one place to another place like does that really help anything? Like does that actually solve any problems? Because that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to like, change things, you know? And, um, so I guess, yeah, that’s kind of what I have to say about it. And yeah, I don’t like, is it about politics? Like from the outside? Yeah, it is. And like all of our parents communities have their own politics, their own religions. Our kids have, you know, they usually align with their parents and like, yeah, I tend to I’m like, you like I, I want to be thoughtful and realize that both sides can be wrong and both sides can be right.
Amanda (00:35:24) – Like at the same time, which is really complicated, you know, like, um, so yeah.
Trina (00:35:31) – I mean, I really, really love that you brought up other states because, you know, you did get that or I should say week’s I’m your co-host negative comment. I want to think it was the teacher pay episode, right? Of a teacher being like, Hey, because we were talking about stuff and column and look, I love this comment. So if that was you, please listen. I love you. Hey, like we don’t even have columns in my state of Texas. We only have steps or we only have steps. We only have columns and not steps. It’s one of those things. And so, like, their pay structure was I don’t know, it depends on if you adjust for cost of living, but it looked like it might even be more impressive than ours because we have to keep going to school to earn our full salary. And remember, that’s at our own expense.
Trina (00:36:17) – And they don’t. They just have to do years. But if the final analysis is that they aren’t given an opportunity when adjusted for cost of living to earn what we earn and I don’t know what that is. You said it was, what, like 80,000 or something and we get up to 120. But this is Alameda County, folks. An average, very small, modest home is almost $2 million. So I don’t and I can’t own a home. I’m completely locked out of the real estate market, so I’m not sure. But the point is, is that we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s districts, much less states, because we are intentionally siloed. The only way we can have this conversation and if you’re like, I don’t I don’t hear enough of what is going on in my district or my state to relate to this. Call us up, get on the podcast because we’re trying to create that conversation from scratch right now. Because you’re right, we don’t know what’s going on in other states.
Trina (00:37:17) – But I will say this like when I hear about what’s happening in Florida, my heart breaks. Like I cry on a regular basis. My fellow teachers and the students, they’re like, What you’re going through? And not just Florida, other places, too. It just feels like you’re under constant attack. And I am so sorry that you’re experiencing that and that is completely unfair and that you don’t need to be a liberal bleeding heart to want to say no when your district is telling you you have to out your trans students like you. That’s why it’s not about politics. You don’t want to harm your students, period, Right?
Amanda (00:37:56) – Yeah. Wow. Yeah. My goodness. So should we kind of define some of these things like, like what is equity? Because we have been talking about like Lgbtqia students in this episode, but we also there Yeah, there’s a lot more to this. A lot.
Trina (00:38:20) – Yeah. So okay, so traditionally, by the way, that this is another role like everybody uses the word equity has their own idea of what it means, right? Yeah.
Trina (00:38:30) – Traditionally equity in school going all the way back to faith, like thinking about special education was making sure that however a kid shows up with a difference and learning a difference in socioeconomic status, whatever, However, a kid shows up, they deserve the same opportunities to learn, right? So that’s why we have special education programs. That’s why we have intervention programs. It was about meeting the needs of the kids, recognizing not everybody has the same opportunities. That’s what equity has always been from the beginning. What it has grown to include is the consideration of what we call historically marginalized identities. And that is a that’s a very complicated term because in every society there are a set of identities that are marginalized, and then there are in other societies the same identity is not marginalized. So historically marginalized identities is a really important term to get behind. And I help my students understand this by thinking of the margins of the page on the like where are the margins? They’re off to the side. So we’re talking about like identities that have for reasons of their their categorizing into this group have not been given equal opportunities to to succeed in society.
Trina (00:39:58) – So then they show up with the trauma of those experiences. They show up with the, you know, the the the inability to quickly and easily engage with content or quickly and easily understand what’s going on because of the trauma of those experiences. Right? So in order to understand who the historically marginalized identities are, you need to think about the labels of dominant. So the racially dominant group we know is white. We all understand that white people have had a greater access to success and resources in society if you don’t see that. If you’re not at least to that place where you can agree with that statement. You need to do some more research and read credible resources. I’m sorry. I can’t help you if you don’t agree with that statement.
Amanda (00:40:55) – So can I say one thing? Yeah. So I was teaching a lesson to my class, and we watched a little video about multiculturalism, and I used a lot of words like ethnicity, culture, race. And in the video, the video that brought up a really, really important point about race and I definitely highlighted it with my students that race is socially made up.
Amanda (00:41:26) – Oh yeah, phenomenon. And I actually made the point that like, that race actually doesn’t exist. It’s just a thing that humans made up to categorize each other and oppress each other really. But like, why don’t we have categories of like how big people’s feet are, you know, or the color of our eyes. And I kind of just brought this up to my students and they’re like, Yeah, like, why don’t we like, why are we categorizing each other and others based on the color of skin? And we don’t do that for like the color of eyes or the size of feet, right? And so I just thought that was I just think it’s important to like talk about these terms with kids and expand their understanding of, of Yeah. What it means because that word like like being racist it’s thrown around a lot in schools and kids say it a lot you know and like do they know what that means fully? I mean I think a lot of kids do, especially if they’re marginalized kids, you know, but like if you have a classroom.
Amanda (00:42:38) – So I know a lot of teachers, they’ll say, well, my class, you know, it’s all like homogeneous. Like they’re all white kids. Like, I don’t have any kids who are like black or brown, so why should I even, like talk about this with my students? And I’m like, Oh my.
Trina (00:42:54) – That’s because that’s because of all the other marginalized identities and also because, you don’t know what someone’s race is often by just looking at them, right? Like, and you’re right. I definitely studied that in my undergraduate work in anthropology. Like I studied the invention of race as a social construct, and it is invented and racial categories have morphed and changed to meet the needs of the dominant group throughout history. So it’s all about whatever group is dominant, getting to create these categories out of greed, really trying to keep the resources in their hands, the hands of the few, the hands of the dominant, and then using racial categories to subordinate groups to oppress them and also to pit other people against each other.
Trina (00:43:43) – Like it’s very deliberate on their part. Right. But to get back to your original point about why don’t we categorize by eyes and by skin? Well, and we do by skin. Well, it’s it’s much more obvious to have those outward cues that someone is different. And this is really important to note that like visible versus invisible, marginalized identities is a whole dynamic that people within historically marginalized identities deal with. It’s a whole other ball of wax. There are real issues around the inability to hide these identities that some historically marginalized identities or even some members of those people and those identities have to deal with what others don’t. You and I talk about me being neurodivergent We’re not so neurodivergent that we don’t pass if we keep our mouths shut and like, don’t, you know, keep our mouth shut and act normal. We can do that for a very long time. Other people don’t have that luxury and that needs to be brought up and mentioned here. And when it comes to racial identities, particularly like black or African American racial category, we need to be very clear that they don’t have that luxury unless they have very fair complexions and that the very outward sign of them being different and creating a racial category for that, that was perpetuated for greed, pure and simple.
Trina (00:45:10) – After emancipation, former white, wealthy male slave owners actively and intentionally stoked the fires of mistrust against the recently emancipated slaves, and they constructed whole narratives stoking mistrust and hatred that included all whites, even poor whites who would have had a lot to gain if they joined up with the freed slaves to organize over a lot of the labor rights that we enjoy today. That would have happened much sooner if we had all been united with the recently freed slaves. But the wealthy whites didn’t want to share their wealth. They were angry for having lost most of their wealth in the form of their human property, and they whispered like Lady Macbeth into the ears of other classes and convince them to create crap like the KKK. And then as soon as, you know, emancipation happened. They also created prisons to continue to have a slave labor force to keep them wealthy and flush with their, you know, ill deserved, not deserved wealth. The fact that it is a social construct and invented doesn’t make it any less like real in the lives of the people.
Trina (00:46:24) – Yeah. That are experiencing it.
Amanda (00:46:26) – So what are the other dominant categories? Yeah for.
Trina (00:46:29) – Sure. So white, whatever white means and white has changed, right? Like when my great grandparents came from Sicily, they were not considered white. But they are. They would be today. Right? Um, so that changes and shifts throughout time. But also Christian and I know we don’t think about this a lot, but we have a so called secular society and especially, you know, Horace Mann’s vision. We talked about that episode. One of a secular school isn’t really the case. Like there’s a lot of Christian and Christian bias in a lot of the things that we do and in particular Protestant. So if you’re Catholic, you feel it and know your difference. A lot of times in our society and in our schools, but also males, um, people who are straight, people who are gender conforming, who act like a proper girl or boy. And I will say right now, I’m not a proper girl.
Trina (00:47:26) – I identify as cisgender, but I don’t act right for a girl. And I’ve been told that repeatedly throughout my life. Um, neurotypical people, I am not neurotypical. And I get that rubbed in my face all the time. But it’s like really important for me to mention again that even though I’m not neurotypical and I’m not a quote, good girl, I have a lot of privilege within those identities because I am very femme facing. I can pass as neurotypical, so it’s not entirely fair for me to lump myself into the levels of oppression of other people who are like gender non-conforming or not neurotypical, because I have a lot of privilege there to people who are not traumatized. If you haven’t had trauma, especially in your center core group of your nuclear family, like if you haven’t had trauma amongst your primary caregivers, you you have experienced the world in a much better, easier way than people who have in specific other ways. Right. And about trauma. I’m a survivor of multiple sources of trauma, some in my core nuclear family.
Trina (00:48:41) – There was a lot of domestic violence and sexual assault in my home as a kid. You know, seeing my mother experience that repeatedly over many years is extremely traumatizing. And I have post-traumatic stress disorder, but I’m also a survivor of sexual assault and sexual harassment and stalking outside of the experiences of my childhood and nuclear family. So I have like various forms of trauma. And I can tell you that if you have experienced trauma, if you have post-traumatic stress disorder, like many of our service members have, anyone who has survived a traumatic event or experienced family trauma the way I have, you feel very different from people around you in ways that are difficult and hard, and you wonder why in the heck you just can’t fit in.
Amanda (00:49:31) – And this is a source of invisible marginalization. And I don’t know how you feel about like the terms big T trauma and little T trauma, because I would say that I had. Pretty traumatic experiences as a child, but they’re not like what you would consider as typical, I would think I would say more generational trauma and and also trauma in my middle school experience, being bullied by the entire school.
Amanda (00:50:11) – But no one knows any of that about me or like it’s just invisible. It’s something that you bring with you every day. And kids in our classrooms, we don’t know what they’re bringing every day. It’s it’s not something we really can see.
Trina (00:50:29) – Right? I mean, I think, you know, in that way you can hide it for a while. Like you can keep that close to the vest. But in a way, that kind of invisible, marginalized identity is a way of you having distance keeping connected from people around you. Like you don’t run around forming student unions at school over people who’ve had sexual trauma. Like that’s just not, you know, that’s not something a pride flag people wave. Maybe they should. I think people do. I think adults do. Adults. Adults come together like a lot of the survivors of the Catholic Church, sexual assaults have bonded together and they work really hard to not feel shame. But I mean, it’s really hard for kids. We don’t have pride in those identities.
Trina (00:51:18) – There’s so much shame in being a sexual assault survivor.
Amanda (00:51:24) – Yeah, well, and kids just being a kid is they’re in a position of very little power. And so I think that’s important to to realize that kids have no power really at all.
Trina (00:51:42) – Right. Yeah. I mean, kids are their own marginalized identity. And that is something that I have learned throughout working in K-12 and then also like advocating for other historically marginalized identities, like when I was working really hard to try to bring like the MeToo movement to K-12, because like, when the comment that Trump made hit the news during his campaign, his initial campaign to be president, there were just all these girls who suddenly, suddenly started coming to me with their sexual assault experiences at school. And this was a middle school. And then I watched, you know, hopefully gleefully, as I’d been a feminist activist for sexual assault, sexual violence for decades. And yeah, I ran a domestic violence shelter. We talked about that before and a rape crisis hotline.
Trina (00:52:35) – But I saw this finally take root in our culture like we were finally not tolerating it anymore. And I waited for it to trickle down to the kids and I waited for it to trickle down into K 12 and it never did. And I advocated hard. I emailed Time’s Up, I wrote Me two, I collaborated with the Women’s March people and it was false promises and or no replies at all.
Amanda (00:53:02) – Adults don’t want to face that. These terrible things can happen in our schools. It’s it’s wrong. And I’m sorry that that happened. Trina Okay, let’s keep talking about the other dominant groups that exist within our society.
Trina (00:53:20) – Right? So another important dominant group which really came up a lot during the Covid pandemic were people who were like medically stable, medically strong. And so the alternate of that is what we call people who are medically fragile. And these are people because they’ve weakened immune systems or if they got Covid or if they get sick. It is a it is a life threatening situation for them. And there’s a variety of medical diagnoses that fit with that.
Trina (00:53:49) – But I really felt so disappointed in K 12 leadership when they were figuring out their Covid mitigation and how brave and up front they were about what we knew was the truth behind the science of how Covid was spreading and what our kids needed. Um, that weren’t those kids were not able to come back to school in the same ways, for example, that kids who are more medically stable. So medical fragility is definitely an historically marginalized group. People who are typically abled physically, um, you know, as well as mentally if you’re middle or upper upper class. And again, that depends on the majority of the kids in the school. So if you’re middle class and you’re going to a school that is mostly upper class, you’re going to experience socioeconomic oppression for sure. I mean, my kid goes to a very privileged school. We live we’re very middle class, as you know. We don’t own a home. And he gets to go to an alternative high school in an extremely privileged district. And I cannot even tell you the ways in which we experience the ridiculous bias that they have.
Trina (00:55:04) – Like he is in cross country, we are told we need to give $500 to the coaches. I mean, it just endless examples of throwing money around and privilege around like it’s water. It’s just so baffles my mind so many ways. Also, if you don’t have a mental health illness, you don’t you that’s also the privileged group if you’re slim, right? So if you’re heavy, you experience an oppressive society, like even just the size of the desks at school are not made for children who aren’t slim. You if you’re not at least moderately attractive, you’re going to be experiencing oppression at school. If you’re not in very good health, physical health, you’re going to experience oppression on school. You know, I have celiac disease, but so I understand a little bit about what it means to be left out of food at school and at work. But there are a lot of like things that a lot of kids struggle with with asthma and other physical medical diagnoses that oppress them at school. And of course, they’re all children.
Trina (00:56:07) – So all children are oppressed. Right. So these all of these labels. Are defining the dominant identity, right? You can see that at least in some part of our life, everyone is outside of that a little, Right. But if these are all of the, you know, labels, the more you have, the more your oppression is going to be. And when you privilege one of these identities over another and say that the equity work is only about this group, like you were saying before, comparing and contrasting different teacher experiences with social justice nightmares at school, it’s hard to it’s hard to compare them. It is very hard to compare and play the who’s got it worse game with these identities. It can be very difficult in some spaces. It sucks to be more a girl and other spaces is going to suck. To be non white in other space is going to suck to be non-Christian. It just is hard to not be these dominant identities in general. And so if you don’t have what I have come to call and inclusive and intersectional framework, which means you recognize all of the identities and then recognize that more of the identities you have, the harder life is for you.
Trina (00:57:24) – You’re already setting up your equity framework to fail. So before I move on, what are your thoughts?
Amanda (00:57:32) – Well, I just wanted to bring up in the notes. It says that Kimberly Crenshaw is the one that kind of developed this framework for intersectionality. Yes.
Trina (00:57:44) – Thank you. Yeah.
Amanda (00:57:45) – And I yeah, I just and I think when we talked about the two buckets of schools. Right, there’s one bucket like they are very much against all of this equity talk and maybe they have an idea in their minds that like. You know, racism doesn’t even exist anymore. What are you talking about? There’s people out there that think that that systemic racism is just something that liberals made up or something. I’m not sure. But then there’s this other bucket that I think we kind of live more in, in California, where they are doing equity work, but it’s not from an intersectional place. And we’re going to keep talking about that, right?
Trina (00:58:27) – Yeah, I know. I didn’t I started. Listeners were we’re kind of sticking closely to some notes.
Trina (00:58:33) – I typed up and I spoke off the cuff there at the end and I had put in the notes. Kimberly Crenshaw, thank you. Because that was her term. Yeah. Thank you, Kimberly Crenshaw. In fact, I have her infographic from her website in my signature too.
Amanda (00:58:50) – That’s awesome.
Trina (00:58:51) – Yeah, I mean, her history is.
Trina (00:58:56) – Absolutely connected to like what we would call today the Black Lives Matter movement. But she started doing, you know, work and having critical conversations about racism long before that. But her conversation is where is the conversation of girls and women in there? Like it’s absent. And so you can say that the conversation about, you know, in feminism is missing African American conversations, too. I’m like all of these all of these social justice movements. Hold space for one and exclude others. And it’s dealing with that privilege that you have within a marginalized identity group is very hard work, right? And as a white feminist, I confronted this a lot. The women’s movement is one of the most noticeable justice movements to struggle with inclusivity because we’re 50% of the population, right? We’re not a minority group.
Trina (01:00:00) – We’re we’re everywhere. So we we for sure get inclusion in all of these other privileged and oppressed identities. And it’s just super noticeable and easy to see The problem with exclusivity and the needs for inclusivity in the women’s movement. And also it’s one of the only examples of oppression that is is universal, it’s international. Every single society struggles with oppression of girls and females, and it doesn’t matter when or where you’ve existed and you can’t. It’s difficult to say that about other groups too, so it’s often really insidious. It’s the oldest form of oppression. It’s baked into all societies with strong language in our religions and our cultural practices. And we see it in K 12. And yet women do benefit from their other privileged identities. So folks have been very critical, rightly of this and have called out feminism for their colorblindness and other exclusionary practices. But really the deal here is all social justice groups really struggle with dominant group privilege. There was a Christian privilege in the civil rights movement, male privilege and the Lgbtqia movement, even though Stonewall, right, which Stonewall was the riots that led to the current iteration of the modern LGBTQ eye movement, Stonewall was led by trans women.
Trina (01:01:27) – So privilege can take over spaces which are targeting social justice causes just like it can any other space. And guess what? That’s exactly what’s happened in K 12. Their social justice. The frameworks really only target and privilege certain identities over others and even the ones that are discussed are done so in an inauthentic way, which really like tokenize certain identities. And there are a lot of us historically marginalized identities that our kids hold. And this is why a lot of people have heard other schools and institutions adopt a more expansive term, DEI, which is diversity, equity and inclusion. And we’re going to touch upon how both the systemic issues and the standards of practices of K-12 education both create and perpetuate equity issues and how attempts being made right now to implement equity based changes are also perpetuating exacerbating systems of oppression too. When we understand that the existing problems of social justice in K-12 schools, the way in which we like deal with the oppression of our historically marginalized identities, falls into one of two camps. Either the school culture is not dealing with it or even worse, actively making the oppression worse, which is what we’re seeing in a lot of these red states.
Trina (01:02:57) – Right. Or they are dealing with it and they’re doing a really crappy job of it because they’re being exclusionary. The only way we can really address this is, is to give you guys a few different, very specific contextual examples by bringing some informants onto the podcast to start talking to you about these problems so that you can hear them contextualize in a very specific way, right? Specific examples of the intersection of race and gender, for example, specific examples about Neurodivergent, for example, like all the different ways in which our kids are oppressed in schools because of their marginalized identities. Right. But I do. And we will do that. We’re going to have people on because I can’t just keep waxing philosophical up here talking about theory without giving you guys real world examples. But I do want to spend just a minute talking about what I’m calling these exclusionary K-12 equity frameworks. Right? So there’s the example of not addressing it all. That’s bad. But if you’re in a red state and you’re thinking it’s so much better out here, I mean, I’m not saying it isn’t, but I am saying consider this.
Trina (01:04:13) – We were sold a can equity framework and I was brought in from the ground floor as a member of a focus group of teachers to talk about what we were seeing in our on our in our students. And it is just a tiny sliver of tokenizing the very few African American students that we happen to have in our district and then excluding everyone else. Right. Because I think we have less than 2% of our district population to African American and the entire framework that was introduced to us, Well, I think they also mentioned Hispanic. That was the term they use, not Latinx students who they were they noticed their. Learning opportunity outcomes, meaning they were calling them achievement gaps, which is just the worst thing ever to write and come up with plans to help them achieve as well as everyone else on standardized tests. That is not anti-oppression work. That does not honor the oppression and experiences of Latinx or African American students. And then also and and it also tokenizing them so it develops and stokes more hostility against them because they’re the only ones that get to have any work address towards them.
Trina (01:05:32) – And then it also ignores all the other oppression that is going on in our District two. So it’s completely ineffective. And so you know that I went and got my master’s degree in educational leadership, right? And I saw that exclusionary focus play out at the highest levels. Like there was no conversation about sexism and nor a lack of a gender equity focus in K-12 equity frameworks at all, which just was very revolutionary for me trying to work on sexual harassment, which is what I did my entire thesis work on was like a ton of microaggressions and it was really hard for me. So that’s just one experience of one specific issue of lack of inclusion and intersectionality being like present and held in K-12. And from my perspective, it feels like a particular blind spot in K-12 educational equity frameworks Is gender like specifically girls and women, right? It’s it’s an area that no one is talking about. And so we’re definitely having a much loved guest come on and talk about her experiences advocating for gender equity within the intersectionality of African American girls too.
Trina (01:06:59) – So that’s my that’s my commentary about the lack of, you know, inclusion in these frameworks and also their their canned their they’re being brought in by people who have a one size fits all equity approach that doesn’t honor the experiences and unique populations of people at their schools. You know, I started the Muslim Student Union at my school site because there was just a terrific problem with representation and access and also like harassment and hate speech against our Muslim students. That’s just one example of the existing frameworks that we were being given, not having any narrative or any paradigm to help the students on the ground floor.
Amanda (01:07:48) – Yeah, specifically the Muslim population. And it does, I mean, I’m sure to different to other marginalized groups. It can feel really hard like, well, what about my experience at this school? Why are the African American students getting all of these resources and and and then we’re just not being talked about like our experience. And I just wonder. Trina. You know, like school systems and, like, the goals, you know, like.
Amanda (01:08:26) – Like that. We have to jump through hoops. There’s always these hoops in the way of. Of, like, seeing all the nuances around these things that we have to jump through. And they’re just the way that schools are set up and just the way that our entire education system is set up to jump through hoops, get good grades to, you know, move on to the next grade. And teachers, you know, it’s all about the content and like teach the state standards and pass the state test, leave all this other stuff out. And yet in our classrooms, we’re hearing our students say things. That we want to be able to talk about just words, words that kids use. You can see like the the way that they’re being impacted. And I mean, I could say some of these words like fat, you know, like I hear my daughter say that all the time, you know, And I want to speak to that. Like, why is that word being used as an insult or or retarded or, you know, and our kids are saying these words.
Trina (01:09:41) – I know, I know.
Amanda (01:09:42) – Yet. And then teachers don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to, like, deal with it, and neither do the counselors or the administrators. And like, it’s just like, oh, my gosh, like, can we please just have, like, open, honest conversations about these things?
Trina (01:09:58) – I know. Are you a big one I’ve been dealing with is students using gay the term gay as a pejorative? Yeah. Oh, it doesn’t matter, Mrs. English, because he’s. He’s not gay. You don’t know that. And it’s still not okay. Like the kids need. What? What. What I’ve always been saying is the kids need global messaging, which means we tell all the kids all the time about what is acceptable to say and what isn’t like what is true hate speech. Right. And like I don’t think any African American. Getting back to one of your points you made a minute ago, I don’t think any African Americans would say, oh, we’re getting all these fantastic, um, you know, direct access to anti work.
Trina (01:10:44) – We’re getting all this help to help mitigate our oppression. They aren’t. And that’s the point is that like, they’re getting, like, platitudes. Yeah. And they’re being and when I say they’re being tokenized, they are like, if you have an equity framework and I remember we watched we do in our district, we gave us a, you know, and beginning of the year video right where we came and sat down and watched a video. And then people from the framework came in and gave us the training. And the video was nothing but a bunch of black boys in a room talking about their experiences. And they were no, there were no girls. There were no people who were, um, who were differently abled. There was no intersectionality at all. And they were heavily edited. Like I had the impression, like what these boys were actually saying was not even what was like coming across. Like they made it fit their framework. They made it fit their paradigm. Really, these equity frameworks that you buy, these canned frameworks that you buy are going to sell you on the idea that you don’t really have to do anything differently.
Trina (01:11:54) – You just package things and sell things and come up with assessments that make it look like you’re doing things. Because really addressing that oppression would turn teachers and school leaders into social justice activists. Changing the society in general, which I always say education is activism. You know, you can’t just if you’re really tuned in to what’s going on with just African American kids, that’s the only thing you’re looking at. You know, instantly that it needs to happen outside of schools, too, right? Like there’s a lot going on outside of society. And I had planned a whole conversation about the history of racism in America, but I’m not going to do that. But the point is, is that, like, even if you are being discussed about in these educational equity frameworks and most of us aren’t most of them, most of the kids aren’t, you’re not being done. So in a humanizing way, it’s not humanizing, right? Because they’re not really making sure that anything they’re doing is actually going to work because they’re not talking to us about it.
Amanda (01:12:58) – Yeah. Yeah. Well, I. This has been a very, very intense discussion about the problematic way that schools are either not approaching equity work, social justice work, or. Or I don’t know, attempting to look like they’re approaching this work. And we’re not done talking about any of this. And we really can’t wait to come back to talk about school culture and to talk about like real world stories of of teachers, maybe even students. I mean, we could interview students. We could even talk about our own student experiences because I don’t know about you, but part of the reason I’m a teacher is because of the traumatic experiences I had as a middle schooler. And I identify as Neurodivergent, and I also don’t really present as like a female. I think I’m more masculine actually. But anyways, and I’m also Mexican, even though you might not see that like I’m just a white woman, right? Like, I don’t know, I’m sharing all my my identities, but I have a lot of privilege as well, like and so, but yeah, like being able to see all of that about a person and then like figure out, okay, well, how can we change our schools to serve all of these different identities? Like that’s, that’s the real work.
Amanda (01:14:27) – And I’m like really excited about that. Like how and I have so many ideas, you know, and I do do.
Trina (01:14:36) – This is a this is a really big topic. And I’m sure if you listen to all the episodes, you’re going to notice we haven’t covered it all. You can’t cover it all. Did you hear all those marginalized identities? Like, we can’t cover them all. But what we want to do is just honor the idea that they all deserve space in the work. Right? And then I think in the future episode, I could talk about maybe the pilot that we’re working on at my site because it is an inclusive and intersectional framework. And it, it uses something called a student civic engagement model, which we’ll talk about to, I think when we talk about can character education, because it’s really a response against how can character education can be oppressive. But yeah, like we can’t we can’t address every single issue. But I, I do think that just putting it out there into the world that like.
Trina (01:15:28) – If you have a can. If you have a K-12 Education Act framework afoot. It is exclusionary. And I know that a lot of us have a lot of ego and wrapped up in the work. But if you have said we only have time to talk about this group, we can’t talk about that. If you’ve had those conversations in your meetings, you’ve started off on the wrong foot because there is a way to include everybody and to honor everybody’s oppression in that space. And if you’ve gone forth with ideas that were exclusionary, you need to dial back and start back at the beginning. You really do. And I’m going to just say particularly gender equity, but push back, you guys, you know, email me and tell me I’m wrong. I you know, I think there’s a lot of we could say about other marginalized identities, too. But yeah, when we talk about Title IX and the lack of implementation there, my argument rests there about the lack of gender equity focus in. All right.
Amanda (01:16:28) – Yeah, And you’ve taught me so much about that. And because you’ve expanded my understanding of gender equity, I feel like I’m looking at all of these problems in schools from like a whole other kind of lens and also everything I’ve learned about neurodiversity. And so I can see why people get really passionate about their oppressed group, you know, and their their the problems they’re facing. But I do think it’s so important to understand it all and to like build our schools in a way and our instruction in a way that, like you said, is humanizing for all of the groups and all of the oppression that’s been done to us through our society. And I do feel like schools can be a beautiful, like utopian, like safety bubble because our kids, they are so impressionable, you know, and like what we like do in our classrooms and what we allow space for kids like they get on board really quick especially, and they see through our fake attempts, you know, like really, really quickly and easily.
Amanda (01:17:46) – And kids are like, I feel like this generation of kids, they’re ready, you know, for like these changes. I really think they are. And a lot of them are speaking out like and it’s it makes me so proud and excited for the next generations.
Trina (01:18:03) – Yeah, for sure. And they do. They see through. All of the baloney. And, you know, just like the adults in this space is when they hear things that don’t make sense coming from up high. There was never any expectation that they should say anything because there’s no they have no opportunity to insert themselves meaningfully in the conversation. And really, why do you want to care about equity? Why do you want to address social justice problems in education? Because remember, folks, we don’t have enough intelligent, thoughtful people to staff our white collar positions. We’re hiring from outside of our country because the oppression that’s happening inside of our country is limiting the opportunities and learning opportunities to such an extent that we are reading at a 54% literacy rate in this country.
Trina (01:18:48) – Like you want real facts to back up what we were saying. There you go. Like, it’s just a pragmatic issue. If we’ve got to address the social problems so that we can be a happy, healthy, successful society that will continue to practice intelligent democracy. And this dealing with this equity stuff is part of it. And not dealing with it or not dealing with it. Right. Will lead to greater teacher shortages. Because you guys, we are in a culture war. The teachers are being just in the caught in the crosshairs. It is. I’ve been in the blue state area where I’ve said I’ve been critical of equity frameworks and the aggressions and loss of social capital have made me want to quit in other places. There is no equity framework of foot and teachers are standing up for their marginalized identity students and they are quitting. It’s exhausting and traumatic to be a teacher in America right now, folks.
Amanda (01:19:47) – It really is. And I feel like this conversation. It is just. Yeah, it’s just so important to have and I feel empowered every day because of my relationship with you, Trina. And I know you said the same thing to me. Of course. And I think that when, like, passionate teachers who understand these things come together, it is powerful. Contact us if you want to be on and join the conversation.