First, we hope that you are safe and healthy. This is a stressful and frightening time for everyone, and the uncertainty of where the coronavirus pandemic is headed adds to our anxiety. Our schools are closing. Our conferences have been canceled. Our communities are under emergency alert.
This crisis threatens to amplify inequality in countless ways, and more than ever, we need to respond from a place of community, compassion, and solidarity. Through it all, Rethinking Schools remains committed to providing social justice teaching, storytelling, and resources during these uncertain times.
Now is not the time to pull away from social justice education activism, but to find new ways to express it. As schools go onto the internet — or into hibernation — we need to make sure this happens in a way that does not promote greater inequality. For many of our students, schools are not only sites of learning, but sources of nutrition and health care. We need to organize to protect and expand these services. As with other forms of wealth in our society, computer technology and internet access are not distributed equally. We need to ensure that whatever alternative means of teaching and learning school districts institute have equity at the center — that includes suspending standardized testing and expanding resources to serve the immediate needs of school communities. And as Trump denounces the “foreign virus” that has invaded our country, we have to organize against this naked xenophobia, and to defend especially the rights of children in immigrant detention centers, who are some of its most vulnerable victims.
The coronavirus crisis is horrific, and even in its early days has led to great suffering. But this crisis is not a time of retreat; it is a time to insist on, to organize for, an agenda of human rights and wealth redistribution. Has there ever been a time when the need for universal free health care was more essential — and more obvious? Or paid sick leave? Or for everyone to have guaranteed access to clean water and a safe place to live?
If you have a story to share about hope, inspiration, and organizing during the COVID-19 pandemic, please consider submitting it to Rethinking Schools.
So let’s wash our hands, and then raise them in the fight for equality and justice.
Rethinking Schools Board, Editors, and Staff