Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
At a time when most parents are simply hoping to get their kids back into the classroom, Arizona’s power players have come together to dramatically shift what takes place in those classrooms.
From the wealthy corporatists of Boeing to those powerful souls at Arizona’s largest power company, Arizona Public Service, efforts are underway to ensure that the children of the muscle classes check their privilege.
That effort, developed and offered to schools by the Arizona Education Foundation, is dubbed “Our World.” The “Our World” program is described as “a ground-breaking initiative that provides training and workshops on anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion for educators, businesses, nonprofits, and higher education. Training is designed and facilitated by Arizona Teachers of the Year and higher education partners. Those partners include faculty from Arizona’s numerous public and private universities.
Our World is a response to calls for societal justice and reform around anti-racism. It was created to assist school districts and businesses with fulfilling commitments they made to adopt more equitable practices.
Our World training provides the tools needed to build culturally inclusive learning and work environments; helps individuals to recognize and combat racism on school, corporate, and nonprofit campuses; and fosters open communication about the issues of bias, race, and social justice. Ultimately, our desire is to create safe spaces where all stakeholders are involved in creating equitable and just environments.
Our World is provided free of charge to any Arizona public school because of generous support provided by Boeing and additional support from PNC.
For those of you who might not be aware, Boeing is a major defense contractor and “PNC is on the list of largest banks in the United States by assets. It is the 5th largest bank by number of branches, 6th largest by deposits, and 4th largest in number of ATMs,” according to Wikipedia.
Members of the Arizona Educational Foundation Board include:
According to the Our World webpage, the “Our World” program offers workshops for Arizona schools that “are provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of” Boeing:
Workshops can be held for entire school or district faculties or tailored for smaller groups.
Workshops are three hours in length and may be reserved as half day professional development or combined for full day trainings.
Once workshops are booked, schools or districts will be asked to complete a survey about any equity work that faculty may have participated in previously. This enables facilitators to tailor a customized experience around the specific needs of your staff.
Workshop “opportunities” include:
Building Connections with Students: An Exploration of Anti-Racism and Strategies for Adopting Inclusive Classroom Practices
This 3-hour introductory workshop for teachers and administrators provides a foundational understanding of anti-racism and the historical constructs that sometimes lead to misunderstanding. While many schools or districts may have already engaged faculty in equity, diversity, and inclusion training, anti-racism goes beyond that to delve deeper into bias, the meaning of “privilege,” and common microaggressions people often unknowingly exhibit. Participants will learn ways to immediately begin incorporating classroom and schoolwide practices that build connections with students.
Fostering an Anti-Racist Environment: Transforming Classrooms for Inclusiveness
This 3-hour intensive is a follow-up to Building Connections with Students OR for schools who have already undergone extensive equity and diversity training. How can educators affirm the cultural uniqueness of all students? Participants will learn strategies to examine current classroom practices, decolonize learning spaces, and gain insight on transforming those environments into culturally inclusive and responsive spaces. Having conversations about race and identity can be tough for teachers; this session will also model conversations and provide constructs that teachers can use to foster understanding among students.
Social Justice in the Classroom
Student-led anti-racist work can be a powerful catalyst for change and young people possess the ability to understand the difference between oppression and justice. Social Justice in the Classroom is an add-on component to Our World that provides teachers with the opportunity to integrate student-directed anti-racism work into the classroom. An Our World Fellow will work alongside teachers and students to identify a project, assign roles and action steps, develop outreach and marketing plans, and help guide students toward a finished project.
From Litchfield to Peoria, Arizona’s parents are questioning why, at a time when their nonracist children so desperately need remedial work to catch up from the losses, they suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their time is being spent making sure they are reminded that they still live in world occupied by some racists.