‘This work is so crucial’: Madison School District staff lead conversations about Black Lives Matter At School Week

Scott Girard:

Every Madison Metropolitan School District site had staff participating in the Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action this year.

The national movement to hold a week of support for black students ran Feb. 3-7 this year, culminating Thursday night in Madison with a sold-out staff showing of the movie “Just Mercy” and a post-show discussion.

Participating staff led lessons about the 13 Black Lives Matter Global Network principles, intersectionality and black contributions to history: restorative justice, empathy, loving engagement, diversity, globalism, queer affirming, trans affirming, collective value, intergenerational, black families, black villages, unapologetically black and black women.

Madison Teachers Inc. staff member Kerry Motoviloff, who helps leads the union’s social justice and racial equity work, said teachers customized the lessons for students in the age group they teach through an elementary and secondary curriculum provided through the national movement. She saw elementary teachers using things like picture books or having students illustrate how they knew black lives mattered, while older students had a chance to offer more feedback about how the school system was doing.

At Memorial High School, for example, the county’s Black Student Unions gathered Tuesdayin the auditorium to hear from a motivational speaker who told his “prison to Ph.D.” story and answered questions about how the students could continue activism.

“This year we’re seeing much more support for and engagement with our Black Student Unions, that’s very helpful,” Motoviloff said.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.