Meet Kalyn Lee. 2020’s Rookie Teacher of the Year, out of Miami Carol City High School. And she is putting that honor into action, with important ideas on how Miami schools can be on the forefront of anti-racism, starting in schools. MDCPS is one of the largest counties in the country, serving over 350,000 students. The vast majority of those students are Hispanic and Black, and at Carol City High specifically is 86% Black. Regardless, anti-racism education is meant to and should be for everyone–including teachers. Kalyn has taken it upon herself to share her ideas on how MDCPS can address anti-racism education, and now that city commissioners have voted to officially put it in place, we’re sharing her thoughts below.
In her own words: “It is imperative that the district urgently consider how to address policing within school, specifically schools that reflect the population of our Trayvon Martins, Breonna Taylors and George Floyds.” She also calls on teachers and administrators to “educate on tolerance, and anti-racism when the very institution designed to implement those lessons is silent?”
Read on for Kalyn’s remedies and ideas on how to show support, to do something- starting with healing conversations, that would ultimately transform how things are currently done.
- Assemble a Black Education Town Hall. Let Black parents, students, and teachers discuss the issues they experience within the classroom and brainstorm possible solutions.
- Implement an anti-racism professional development endorsement. This may be a requirement for all faculty and administration. Since children learn values from adults, we must equip the adults to teach anti-racism.
- Teach Black history. Since 10th grade students are not required to take a history class, a racial justice curriculum can be created and implemented for all 10th grade students.
- Create equitable class size regulations and stop paying fines to exceed class size caps. Students who are vulnerable and below grade level need a much lower class-size cap, as these students require more one-on-one attention.
- Provide books and technology for students to take home. If students’ coursework is primarily online, we need to ensure that they have the resources to adequately it.
- Fund school libraries and media centers. Miami Carol City Senior High School, for example, has not had a fully functioning library that students can use for research or printing for approximately four years.
- Increase sub funds for lower-income schools. This will allow for teachers to attend teacher professional development opportunities, which can better teacher efficacy.
- Make our schools safe. During the 2019-2020 school year, Miami Carol City Senior High School requested for teachers to search for a student and failed to inform teachers that the student was in possession of a loaded firearm.
- Provide basic hygiene funds. Provide sanitation accommodations so that Black schools can consistently afford toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and soap in the bathrooms to reduce the spread of germs, infections, and diseases like COVID-19.
- Offer the same rigorous courses that exist in the schools of our counterparts. We need to offer dual-enrollment core classes that can transfer to colleges once our students graduate. If the teachers are not credentialed to teach the class, then bus students to take class on nearby college campuses so that students can have an equitable high school experience.