D.C. Area Educators Commit to Participate in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2024

Educators nationwide are preparing for the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action from February 5–9, 2024. This movement is fueled by four core national demands: (1) End “zero tolerance” discipline and implement restorative justice, (2) Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K–12 curriculum, (3) Hire more Black teachers, and (4) Fund counselors not cops.

This year’s campaign centers on the guiding principle, Collective Value, which states,

We are guided by the fact that all Black lives, regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, economic status, ability, disability, education, location, age, immigration status, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, matter. None of us are free until we are all free.

In the Washington, D.C. area, the annual D.C. Area Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is coordinated by Teaching for Change’s D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice. Educators from more than 100 schools have signed up to participate and there are dozens of endorsing organizations.

During this 7th annual D.C. area Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, educators will teach lessons about structural racism, intersectional Black identities, and Black history. Vanessa Williams, program manager of D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, explains,

The goal of Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is to carve out the space to learn about and organize for schools that affirm and uplift all Black lives. With the 13 guiding principles and national demands as a frame, the Week of Action serves as a significant centralizing point in a greater Year of Purpose and lifetime commitment to the movement for Black lives.

Educators have planned creative classroom and schoolwide activities. For example, a Fairfax County Public Schools teacher will have her students explore the globalism guiding principle through a collaboration with social justice educators in the U.K. with whom they’ve partnered to learn more about the British Black Panthers. A DCPS administrator and their elementary school community are hosting a school-wide teach-in on the guiding principles and demands. A D.C.-based music educator will have their students of all ages reflect on a principle or demand of their choosing, then create and record an original song to be shared with the rest of the student body in a showcase. Many D.C. schools are hosting go-go artists to offer workshops on the music and its history.

Thanks to donations from publishers, teachers who share stories about their classroom activities will receive a children’s or young adult book related to the 13 principles of Black Lives Matter at School.

This year’s week of action is one of Teaching for Change’s 35th anniversary events.

To learn more about the week of action, visit:
https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/black-lives-matter-week-action

Teaching for Change has a list of teachers who welcome journalists in their classrooms for the Week of Action. Contact the people listed below to make arrangements.

Vanessa Williams
DCAESJ program manager
[email protected]
(980) 256-8586

Deborah Menkart
Teaching for Change executive director
[email protected]
(202) 294-2703

About Teaching for Change’s D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice

D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice (DCAESJ) was launched in 2017 by Teaching for Change as an initiative aimed at constructing and fostering a network of social justice educators in the D.C. metro area. It serves as a community of mutual support for educators, facilitating collaboration on curriculum, professional learning, and activism. The initiative actively challenges systems of oppression through the promotion of anti-bias, anti-racist, and multicultural education. DCAESJ engages with students, families, and fellow educators both within and beyond classrooms, striving to contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable world.

About Black Lives Matter at School

Black Lives Matter at School is a national organization dedicated to the pursuit of liberation and racial justice in education for Black youth, educators, and all youth of color. It is a Black-led and multi-ethnoracial collective consisting of educators, parents, organizers, youth, and community members who share a commitment to building a more just world, ensuring that all individuals can access their full humanity. The organization actively addresses racial justice in education through initiatives such as promoting restorative justice, advocating for mental health support, increasing the representation of Black teaching staff, eliminating police presence in schools, and mandating Black history and ethnic studies. The national Black Lives Matter at School encourages the participation of educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations in its annual week of action, which takes place during the first week of February each year.​