LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Across the nation, various school districts and teachers’ associations have been actively participating in the annual Black Lives Matter (BLM) “Week of Action” since Monday, February 5th, through today.
The event is endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA) and the primary focus revolves around promoting “restorative justice” and cultivating a “trans affirming” and “queer affirming” educational environment.
Notable participants include the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), Seattle Public Schools, and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
What kind of activities are involved in the Week of Action?
The scheduled activities encompass panel discussions on racial justice, encouraging students to wear BLM apparel, lessons on equity and justice in the Black community, films, coloring pages, crafting postcards for politicians, reading lists, art projects, rallies, events, guest speakers, and more. According to their website, the Week of Action spans 21 states and 6 countries.
Critics, like Tina Descovich from “Moms for Liberty,” express concerns about BLM’s guiding principles, particularly issues related to the disruption of the nuclear family and the promotion of globalism and transgender affirmation.
The official “BLM at School” website outlines their mission as addressing racial injustice in education, embodying Black joy, confronting anti-Blackness, and fostering authentic partnerships for equitable school communities nationwide.
Guiding principles and demands of the BLM at School.
With 13 guiding principles and four demands, their requests include ending zero tolerance (ending the over-policing, out-of-control suspensions and expulsions), implementing restorative justice, hiring and retaining Black teachers, mandating Black history and ethnic studies, and advocating for “counselors not cops.”
Some argue that BLM at School perpetuates the idea that schools and the country are systemically racist while others point to the organization’s pro-Palestinian advocacy. BLM and BLM at School’s affiliation with the pro-Palestinian movement raises concerns about them spreading anti-Israel propaganda.
In their October 2023 press release after the Hamas attack on Israel, BLM at Schools’ website issued the statement, “BLM@School wants to be clear in our recognition that this unfolding loss of Palestinian and Israeli lives is the direct result of decades of Israeli settler colonialism, land dispossession, occupation, blockade, apartheid, and attempted genocide of millions of Palestinians. Palestinians are reminding us that decolonization is not a metaphor or abstraction, but requires real, daily struggle.”
This year’s BLM at School’s Week of Action, an annual event every February, centers around the theme “Celebrating and Centering Collective Value.” The organization encourages participation from students, educators, families, unions, and community organizations both inside and outside schools.
What Michigan schools are involved?
In Michigan, attempts to seek confirmation of support for BLM’s Week of Action from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Michigan Education Association (MEA) were unsuccessful, as they did not respond to inquiries.
However, “Parents Defending Education” (PDE), a grassroots organization opposing classroom indoctrination, identified at least two Michigan schools publicly supporting the BLM Week of Action.
Among the supporting schools are the University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education and the Ann Arbor Academy. These institutions openly endorse the Black Lives Matter movement and appear to integrate the BLM at School curriculum into their educational programs.
The University of Michigan’s website says, “We encourage all educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations to join the annual week of action during the first week of February, which is also Black History Month, each year.”
On the Ann Arbor Academy’s website they say, “Ann Arbor Academy proudly supports the Black Lives Matter movement for social justice. We know that all lives cannot matter until Black lives do, and we have incorporated the Black Lives Matter at School curriculum in various ways throughout our school this year, and will continue to do so in years to come.”
Keeping the Week of Action quiet.
As for the schools who didn’t respond to our inquiries (including K-12 schools and universities), our contact with PDE says that they think that “Schools are not posting stuff publicly to keep attention off” and that possibly photos or videos might show up on the internet after the week is over.
Although the State of Michigan and the MEA did not respond to our inquiries, PDE pointed to a document released by the state of Michigan titled “Social Justice & Anti‐Racist Educator Resources.”
The document, available on Michigan’s MiLEAP page, includes resources that were compiled by the Rochester Education Association and curated by the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council (GEAC) which is within the Michigan Department of Education.
State of Michigan and teachers’ union supports BLM and their activities.
This document references Black Lives Matter and provides links to articles such as “Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice” and “Bias Isn’t Just a Police Problem, it’s a Preschool Problem.” It also includes a link to the Black Lives Matter at School resource toolkit.
As for the MEA, they have also expressed support for Black Lives Matter, releasing a statement in June 2020 during the George Floyd protests and racial unrest, where MEA President Paula Herbart said at the time, “We stand in solidarity with the black community, the Black Lives Matter movement, and everyone fighting against institutional racism in America. As educators, we must lift up the voices of the oppressed and work to dismantle systemic racism.”