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Mapping the movement ahead of Leandro hearing and upcoming elections

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“There are ghosts in our schools.”

Kimberly Jones, 2023 Burroughs Welcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, opened her Mapping the Movement keynote speech with that statement.

According to Jones, many of these ghosts are people of color, often unknown, though “their experiences and sacrifices are at the very foundation of our society.” Jones added that some are even the spirits of former students whose brilliant potential was never fully realized due to systemic inequities and racialized depression.

She contrasted the remembrance of these ghosts with the glorification of historical figures, often white, that are “anything but laudable,” yet are still praised –“living, breathing agents, whose legacies act upon the conscious and conscience of my students,” she said.

There lies the responsibility and obligation that Jones feels to not avoid complex conversations about a difficult or troubling historical truth out of convenience but rather make the commitment to acknowledge and tell the ghosts’ stories with honesty and nuance.

“Who are the ghosts that accompany our kids to school? How do we make space for those voices?”

Kimberly Jones, 2023 Burroughs Welcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year

Mapping the Movement

The Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity (The Flood Center) held its latest installment of the Mapping the Movement convening on Monday, Feb. 19. Their website hosts a visual map that displays the statewide reach of the organizations that are part of the network. The physical gatherings bring together these nonprofit leaders, teachers, school administrators, and many other educational stakeholders to work on an action plan in alignment with the following priorities:

Attendees at the Feb. 2024 Mapping the Movement convening. Derick Lee/EducationNC

Bringing conversations to action

During the meeting, representatives shared the work they have done since the last Mapping the Movement convening. In relation to the health equity priority, the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for North Carolina (SEL4NC) shared about their alliance and advocacy for social and emotional learning (SEL) in education. Co-founder/co-director Dr. Beth Rice highlighted the preparations being made ahead of the fifth annual International SEL Day on Friday, March 8, 2024.

Dr. MariaRosa Rangel, director of family and community engagement at the Wake County Public School System, spoke about the support and resources provided to over 200 educators who attended the N.C. Annual Hispanic/Latino Professional Educators Summit. According to Rangel, opportunities like these have been a part of “making sure that our Hispanic/Latino teachers feel that they belong and there’s a place for them.”

Regarding retaining a diverse educator workforce, Profound Gentlemen’s membership coordinator Gavin Gabriel shared that they have expanded their support for male educators of color through both an affinity group pilot at Neuse River Middle School and a county wide partnership in Catawba.

Other efforts have included voter registration and awareness in light of the upcoming 2024 elections.

“It’s imperative to the relevance and sustainability of our teaching and leading that we honor, acknowledge, and incorporate the communities our students come from directly into their learning as teachers and educational leaders.”

Kimberly Jones, 2023 Burroughs Welcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year
Mary Mathew, Director of Advocacy at Book Harvest, seated next to Dr. Dudley Flood at the Feb. 2024 Mapping the Movement convening. Derick Lee/EducationNC

Upcoming priorities

Attendees emphasized two upcoming priorities as part of Mapping the Movement action plan: The funding and implementation of Leandro and promoting informed voter participation.

Regarding Leandro, this Thursday, Feb. 22nd, the North Carolina Supreme Court is scheduled to once again hear arguments regarding the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a sound basic education. For more information and resources regarding both the history and upcoming hearing, check out the article below. You can access all EdNC’s Leandro coverage here.

Every Child NC is set to have a Day of Action for Education Rights on Thursday, Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The 2024 elections are rapidly approaching. Early voting has already started for the primary election on March 5th. For a detailed explanation on how to vote in North Carolina’s 2024 elections, check out the article below by EdNC reporter Laura Browne. 

Derick Lee

Derick Lee is a regional storyteller for EdNC.