CP&I Newsletter #AISDAtHome

~~~~Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness ~ July 2020~~~~

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CP&I Vision

Provide ongoing, meaningful coaching and professional learning opportunities for Austin ISD staff to engage in critical self-reflection on their interaction with students and their families in a manner that considers the diverse needs of all. The goals and objectives for the office, outlined by the Austin ISD Race Equity Council, are focused on clearly communicating an equitable and responsive lens in all that we do. The Race Equity Council serves as our body of partners committed to the work and possessing the multiple perspectives to keep our focus on the vision.

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Social Construction of Race and the Malleability of the Concept

If you’ve attended any Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness (CP&I) professional learning engagements you will hear us speak to the social construction of race and the malleability of the concept. To make it plain, race is made up. Race is whatever the current political reality needs race to be. Race was created to separate humans by appearance (i.e. skin, facial structure, hair texture, eye color), to create a caste structure that relegated enslaved Africans to the bottom of the social ladder and white male property owners to the tip top.

Charles W. Mills (1997) framed the concept of the racial contract. This contract puts in place ironclad structures that prevent us from talking about race without emotion. We are bound to systemic structures that maintain a code of racial silence that constantly inflicts violence on people who look like me, and have similar lived experiences as I.

Race is something that can be made or unmade. To unmake race, Delgado & Stefancic (2012) say is to “…deprive it of much of its sting by changing the system of images, words, attitudes, unconscious feelings, scripts, and social teachings by which we convey to one another that certain people are less intelligent, reliable, hardworking, virtuous, and American than others.” Omi & Winant (1994), define race as “…a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies… the categories employed to differentiate among human groups along racial lines reveal themselves, upon serious examination, to be at best imprecise, and at worst completely arbitrary.”

The insidiousness of the social construction of race makes invisible to the teacher simple cultural clashes with students that can be remedied through relationship building and dialogue. The unfortunate reality is that teachers in schools with the most black and brown students often cannot make the time because they are teaching in C-F schools and are mandated to teach a certain curriculum, to be on a certain page on a certain day when a certain someone comes in to evaluate their job effectiveness. The institution of standardized tests impacts the space, accessibility of resources, quality of teaching, and the ability to build community in the classroom as well as connect to the larger community outside the classroom.


How does the social construction of race prevent you from engaging in AntiRacist action?

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AntiRacist Principal Vertical Team Leadership Series

Date: July 21st, 12:30-3:30

Registration: HCP session #95560

This series is for principals only

A minority of Americans are consciously aware that racism and anti-blackness have been Stamped from the Beginning in our national culture. For others, recent pandemic and policing realities have raised common interest in antiracism. Accordingly, we are a school system where most of our educators have different lived (and understood) racial experiences from our students. To address this complexity and work to ensure identity-safe schools, the CP&I Office is launching an AntiRacist Leadership series for Principal Vertical Teams.

Description: Austin ISD Principals, are you wondering how to begin leading with an AntiRacist lens? The current reality of #AISDAtHome and #BlackLivesMatter has thrust our schools into actively responding to the social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of students, staff, families and the Austin,Texas community at large. Vertical Teams are writing letters to your community and making commitments to start your journey to AntiRacist leadership. Gather up your vertical team of principals for a series of learning engagements with the Office of Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness. We will critically self-reflect on what it takes to be an Anti-Racist leader and co-create a community to build our collective capacity for culturally proficient and inclusive campus leadership. This series will be delivered as a cohort model. Your full vertical team will be required to actively participate in this session to be invited to attend the subsequent sessions in the series.

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What would freedom look like in our schools? How can abolitionist educators make the most of this moment to fight for humane, liberatory, anti-racist schooling for black youth and for all youth? The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the US education system overnight. The antiracist rebellion in the streets has shown a light on the deep racial inequality in America. Educators and activists who have nurtured radical dreams for public schools now face an unprecedented moment of change, and the challenge of trying to teach and organize online in the midst of unfolding crises. Scholar and author Bettina Love’s concept of abolitionist teaching is about adopting the radical stance of the movement that ultimately overthrew slavery, but persisted and insisted on freedom long before that victory.

Watch the video below for a conversation with Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, Dena Simmons and Brian Jones about abolitionist teaching and antiracist education

Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools
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Austin ISD Race Equity Council Updates

The Race Equity Council has arranged itself into three groups that put their AntiRacist lenses into action in distinct areas of focus.

  • The Community & Family Engagement group successfully launched its monthly Race Talks series on the morning of June 19. This Race Equity Council group is partnering with ACPTA and the Parent Engagement Support Office to open “a door for Austin ISD parents and caregivers to start a conversation about race in our community.”
  • WHAT: RaceTalks for Austin ISD Parents + Caregivers: (topic)
  • WHEN: Friday, July 10 TIME: 9-10:30am
  • WHERE: Zoom (with Spanish interpretation + ASL, other)
  • Register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUscOyqrzMpEtNHyviWgWZv6aKN5lAZPVlL
  • RaceTalks opens the door for Austin ISD parents and caregivers to have on-going conversations about race in our community. Please join this 90-minute conversation on July 10th, another monthly conversation with a different focus on race and why it matters. Spanish interpretation will be provided.
  • The Student Leadership group is working to support the fall launch of an Austin ISD Student Equity Council. As Austin ISD race equity work expands through additional campuses, this Student Council will empower students for crucial engagement in social studies, collaboration, civic engagement, and action research. Meanwhile, Crockett High and O. Henry Middle will offer Racial Equity Leadership courses for a second consecutive year.
  • Finally, the Professional Learning group has been playing an integral role in the launch of the CP&I Leadership Pathway, which held its first session on Monday, June 29. Due to remote learning limitations, Day 1 sessions have split the 150 participants into two separate sessions. Day 1 is subtitled “Archaeology of the Self”, named after a video participants reflected on in which Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz succinctly frames the inside-out work that participants engage in for two years in this pathway.
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Click here to register for the July 10th RaceTalks

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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What We're Reading

Consider this reflective question as you read the following articles:

Who is traditionally oppressed and erased by American policy and social reality? Who, in fact, has been stamped as inferior from the beginning?

SEE NO STRANGER is a practical guide to changing the world, a synthesis of wisdom, a chronicle of personal and communal history – all joined together by a story of awakening. Revolutionary love is medicine for our times. It just might be our best chance for our collective future. http://valariekaur.com

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Cultural Proficiency Partner!

Narratives of Fear: George Floyd, Protest, and Community Empowerment with Dr. Raphael Travis

The violence enacted by the criminal justice system isn’t new, so what makes this moment feel so different? Dr. Raphael Travis, CP&I partner, joins co-host Ann Kelley to break down the now global protests against the murder of George Floyd. Together they explore the role of youth empowerment, coronavirus, and narrative storytelling to fuel the biggest social movement in decades.
TU123 - Narratives of Fear: George Floyd, Protest, and Community Empowerment with Dr. Raphael Travis
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Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices in Austin ISD

Summer can be a time of deep reflection and learning for educators, especially teachers. After the spring semester 2020, there is plenty to consider, reflect on, and plan for as we think about what next school year will look like in our classrooms, schools, and/or virtual spaces.

Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices (CRRP) requires us to engage in critical self reflection individually and institutionally as we consider how we can ensure all of the children and families in our schools feel safe, welcome, and included. CRRP is rooted in connections, relationships, and creating a deep sense of belonging. As you engage in reflection this summer and plan for the approaching school year, we offer a resource that we come back to again and again.

Take a look at the Schott Foundation Restorative Practices Toolkit.


The entire toolkit is worth reading and considering. In particular, we invite you to consider and spend time journaling about the questions offered on pages 5-8. The questions invite you to think about your sphere of influence: campus, classroom, and/or community and consider these aspects (the “Four Ps):Regardless of whether your school community has committed to CRRP, answering the questions will support you as you consider how to meet the needs of the students, families and educators in your community.

If you’re interested in understanding what CRRP looks like in Austin ISD, there is an introductory BLEND course in HCP available to all Austin ISD staff. We invite you to learn more by enrolling and engaging with that course - section #86636. You will find activities designed with the Schott Foundation Toolkit mentioned above as well as many other valuable resources.

Restoratives Practices Update

In addition to the 10 campuses that the CP&I Restorative Practices Associates support through the EIR grant, we are looking forward to supporting Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices at Crockett High School through a grant from the Department of Justice school years 2019-2022.This grant is focused on violence prevention through mental health supports and restorative practices. In addition, Covington and the Alternative Learning Center will both receive mental health service support through the funding of this grant.
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Austin ISD Community Equity Summit: Our Voices, Our Stories

Thank you to all that were able to attend the Austin ISD Community Equity Summit this week hosted by the Austin ISD Office of Equity and the Office of Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness. If you missed the conversation you can watch the video below. Also, save the date for the next conversation on Sept. 15th. More information to come!

Community Equity Summit: Our Voices, Our Stories
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Past CP&I Newsletters

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