In response to the recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, NCTE's Presidential Team has released a letter taking a stance against racism. Below we, the Children's Literature Assembly of NCTE, provide this important letter in its entirety.
This statement was written by the leaders of the NCTE Presidential Team.
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) denounces all forms of racial violence and brutality. We grieve with the family and friends of George Floyd and with all who are suffering during these devastating times. As we seek justice, we stand in solidarity with demonstrations and protests that raise awareness of, and that call for action against, systemic racism in this country. Because we treasure our First Amendment rights, we also denounce the arrest and mistreatment of journalists, especially journalists of Color, who work tirelessly to keep the world informed about what is happening in our various communities.
Injustices and acts of brutality are real. In fact, they are revolting. Racist acts keep recurring, and systems of oppression continue to exist, proving the need for systemic and structural change. That change can begin with protests, but ultimately it must happen through action. As educators, we are poised to lead the way through our teaching.
NCTE’s vision and long-held commitment is “to apply the power of language and literacy to actively pursue justice and equity for all students and the educators who serve them.” As literacy educators, we are concerned for our students and their families. We pledge to continue our efforts to create equity inside classrooms. We celebrate theGary B., et al. v. Whitmer, et al. settlement: students in Detroit and elsewhere “have a fundamental right to education.” And we applaud the New Mexico Yazzie/Martinez decision “to provide all students with a uniform and sufficient education . . . .” Equity in classrooms for teachers of English and our students is paramount. It is through education that we believe we can make a lasting difference.
This includes educating about the right to vote. As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has advised, “ . . . if you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls.”
We cannot stop there. As literacy educators, our aim is to help students and communities to imagine a better, more humane world and to take the steps to achieve it. As advocated by NCTE’s Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning, we must be active, both collectively and individually, in “counteracting racism and other forms of bigotry in teaching materials, methods, and programs for the teaching and learning of English and the language arts.”
As the nation’s oldest organization of preK through graduate school literacy educators, NCTE has a rich history of deriving expertise and advocacy from its members’ professional research, practice, and knowledge. We are stronger by looking to one another for wisdom. Some of our NCTE members have already begun to speak on recent events, such as the Early Childhood Education Assembly, which recently released its powerful Call to Action Countering Anti-Blackness in Society & Schools. We are grateful for this work, and we know that other NCTE members are also finding ways to address these issues and to provide resources.
NCTE’s publications serve as important resources that can guide our thoughts and actions during this time, and we recommend them to you. The following materials may also be helpful:
Also, we remind members that NCTE continues to offer opportunities such as the online Member Gatherings and author-led talks as ways to ensure that we support, encourage, and uplift each other. Know that we are committed to motivating action, working for educational equity, and standing in solidarity, together.
Leah Zuidema, President
Alfredo Celedón Luján, President-Elect
Valerie Kinloch, Vice President
Franki Sibberson, Past President
Emily Kirkpatrick, Executive Director
Many organizations, newspapers, book creators, literacy scholars, teachers and bookstores have created compelling antiracist booklists for different age groups, which are widely available on social media and on websites and blogs. We encourage our members and other readers to explore and use these lists with the children in their lives.
Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay