Back-to-School season is tinged with precariousness this year. While Delta variant cases surge, many schools are reopening and resuming in-person classes. Even though the Biden administration announced plans to offer COVID booster shots in September, the fact remains that conditions at institutions of learning aren’t safe or fully resourced. We asked some of our authors what they would like folks to be aware of on the education front as students and educators return to the classroom. And given our pandemic reality, we also asked them how they think schools could take this opportunity to re-envision themselves for a better, post-COVID future.
A Q&A with Leigh Patel | As someone who has a deep love of learning and teaching, places of formal education have often brought me some amount of heartbreak. We have absolutely stunning teachers because they are also learners, and students who teach as they continue to learn. However, much of education, and glaringly so in higher education, has been shaped by mythologies of who is smart, intelligent, deserving, and more recently in higher education, what to do to bring in money. I often say to my students that they have been told lies about society in their K-12 education and that they’ve come to love those lies.
The townspeople have clutched their pearls and fetched their pitchforks to raise hell against the new boogeyman du jour allegedly stomping the horizon. Do we dare speak its name? That boogeyman is . . . Critical Race Theory. White conservatives don’t want its antiracist agenda infecting children’s minds. The backlash is no different from the time when our former white supremacist in chief called for teaching “patriotic” histories.
By Leigh Patel | On Friday, June 4, the remains of two Black girls, Delisha and Katricia “Tree” Africa, were to be collected from the home of physical anthropologist Alan Mann, an emeritus professor associated with both the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. Delisha and Tree were members of the Black liberation community in Philadelphia known as the MOVE. On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police officers fired thousands of shot and grenades at 5:30 in the morning, peppering the row house where this communal organization resided.
By Leigh Patel | Jim Clyburn, Congressional representative from South Carolina and the majority whip, has an office in the Congressional Chambers, with his name title displayed clearly. However, Clyburn does not work out of that office, instead working from an unmarked office with this staff. On January 6, the day of the storming of the Capitol building, some of the domestic terrorists attempted to enter Clyburn’s office. His staff had piled furniture and were texting from inside. They were able to block the rioters from entering.
By Leigh Patel | Justice Antonin Scalia’s words during the Supreme Court’s revising of the Fisher v. University of Texas case of affirmative action have been rattling around the insides of many who work and study on college campuses. His words caused outrage, but in fact, they are representative of the widespread and erroneous belief that campuses are apolitical locations of merit and ability. His words are racist because they absolve and therefore further the bedrock of institutionalized racism on college campuses. And these words are echoed in the limited ways that higher education currently has responded to students’ accounts of racism.