Train excellent teachers | Remark
“This is culturally appropriate teaching and pedagogy … When they enter the classroom, each student has a talent of genius. Culturally, if you meet them and access things that are important to them, you will get something that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It is understanding that every person has a genius and it is up to us as teachers to help cultivate that genius.
– Courtney Linsey, Children’s Fund Schools for Freedom
Every child deserves teachers who believe in their potential and are determined to use whatever method is necessary to do their best. Teacher training programs were among the first higher education opportunities available to African Americans, and the black educators they produced were often leaders in their communities and inspirations in the lives of their students. Growing up in the segregated South, my teachers were among the caring black adults in my hometown who acted as a buffer against the hostile outside world that told black children that we weren’t important. For many black children today, the chance to have a teacher who looks like them and who is committed to cultivating their excellence is an equally essential but often rarer gift.
Courtney Linsey is an Ella Baker Trainer of the Children’s Advocacy Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools, an experienced teacher and Culturally Appropriate Summer Enrichment Program Manager at CDF Freedom Schools, pursuing her education and a Masters degree. in education. It is part of a partnership between the CDF and the Black Educators Promise Initiative of Teach for America (TFA). The new scholarship, the professional development seminar at the Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute, seeks to inspire and support more black teachers.
The scholarship uses the CDF Freedom Schools model to bring high-quality professional development to an inaugural group of ten Black educators across the South, where many black teachers are still concentrated. This will allow CDF to create a strong teacher training program which will ultimately form the basis of CDF Freedom Schools’ own teacher training institute.
Teach For America describes the need this way: “For the black community, learning has always been a gateway to liberation. Renowned educators like Septima Clark, Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Edmund Gordon have leveraged education to create opportunity, cultivate pride, and transform the trajectory of future blacks for centuries to come. And sadly, as history has shown us, these valiant efforts have met (and continue to be) intense systemic opposition. Today, black students still experience the greatest inequalities in education. And while numerous studies have shown the immense impact black teachers have on the lives of black students and all students, only 7% of teachers in US public schools are black.
CDF Freedom Schools National Director Dr Kristal Moore Clemons puts it this way:
Historian Daniel Perlstein reminds us that the original freedom schools movement was to support the ‘ability of black people to make a claim.’ This notion of ‘ability’ meant empowering people to demand an egalitarian, governed society. through justice and love. The original Freedom Schools movement included academic enrichment, cultural programs, and political and social studies. The new iteration of this work, encapsulated in our partnership with TFA, gives the CDF Freedom Schools program the possibility of sharing new educational possibilities which lead teachers to express their own desires, requests and questions. From this we hope that teachers will create spaces where students can relate the problems of their daily life to practical skills and to problems of political power which will eventually prepare them to participate in all phases of public life. e.
At a time when some in public life seek to block what can be taught to children in schools and turn it into a political advantage, this thoughtful work is more important than ever. All children deserve the opportunity to see adults like them in leadership roles in their classrooms, schools and communities. All children also deserve exposure to books and other materials presenting a wide range of cultures, races and experiences, like the excellent, carefully chosen books that have long been a part of the CDF Freedom Schools program. And all children need teachers and school leaders who care and are ready to respond to their communities, their culture and their own experiences.
When TFA asked Courtney Linsey what it meant to him to serve in the role CDF has nominated for Indomitable Leader, Mentor and Warrior of Justice Ella Baker, he replied, “When I think of her and the type of state of mind and philosophy [she had] – it was always serve first. I’m trying to fit that into my life. Serve as a seed that will always bear fruit. When I think of Ella Baker’s heart, the question “Are the children okay?” ” comes to mind. And if the kids aren’t doing well, then I can’t rest until it’s done.
We must encourage new black teachers and teachers from all walks of life who will have this mindset and are determined to help every child develop the ability to demand the future they deserve.