Power, white supremacy, and capitalism are used to actively neglect, oppress, and murder Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). I stand in solidarity with the organizers of Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives and support the direct action of revolution in the streets all around the world. The police in the United States were created to hunt down, arrest, and maintain control over formerly enslaved Black people. This legacy cannot be forgotten in the wake of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery (Georgia), Breonna Taylor (Kentucky), George Floyd (Minnesota), Tony McDade (Florida) and the countless other Black people that have been killed due to racist police violence and white vigilantism.
As we grapple with this legacy, I am reflecting on the presence of police in our schools. I agree with the decision of Minneapolis Public Schools to terminate their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department, and want to share the work of the Black Organizing Project, which has offered a comprehensive plan for police-free schools in Oakland, California. For those outside of Oakland, the People’s Plan and calls to action can serve as a blueprint for how to take action in your own communities. Maker Ed is focused on equity in education, so as we grapple with who is safe in the street we need to grapple with who is safe at school. The connection between the criminal justice and education system has long existed and manifests itself as the school-to-prison pipeline, which funnels BIPOC youth from classrooms into the criminal justice system at disproportionate rates compared to their white peers, oftentimes for minor infractions.
In response to this moment, Maker Ed will continue with the programming we launched in response to COVID-19. We will continue our collaboration with educators on the ground to distribute maker kits in Oakland Unified School District. We will continue with our weekly Learning in the Making LIVE! sessions, utilizing making to center the stories and lived experiences of people of color. This week, we offered an activity to support youth who are working to process the murder of George Floyd. I want to explicitly acknowledge the work of Maker Ed staff members Dora Medrano Ramos and Linda Le, who have led these efforts. We have shifted our social media content to focus on sharing the work and leadership of Black educators and makers, and we are committed to continuing this practice. We will continue to support educators to design for equity. We have some ideas about what else will come next, but we are taking a step back and listening to BIPOC communities before acting.
It is our mission at Maker Ed to harness the power of making to transform teaching and learning. Our organizational values are learning, community, agency, equity, and JOY. As we grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 and police brutality, and the disproportionate impact of these on Black communities, we have to rethink how we welcome young people back into educational institutions. Maker Ed has a responsibility to be a part of this rethinking in a way that is intentional and focused on dismantling white supremacy in education.
Maker education offers an approach to teaching and learning that attends to the real and relevant needs of learners and humans. It is an approach that positions agency and student interest at the center. What would it look like to harness the power of making to reform teaching and learning? What would it look like to use maker education to center the creativity, imagination, joy, inherent ingenuity, and excellence of Black youth?
I encourage you to learn more by following #policefreeschools, and to get active by contacting your local Superintendent and School Board demanding the end of policing in schools. Black-led, youth-centered organizations have been leading this work for decades, and right now they need your financial support to continue their mission. Below are a few Black-led organizations that you can financially support. If you know of organizations to share that are not listed here, please share in the comments.
I would like to thank my friend, teacher, and comrade Bryce Celotto for editing and advising on this statement. Find him at www.brycecelotto.com.