As Students Protest, Will It Push Leaders To Confront Inequity In Education?

Jun 8, 2020

Watching protests unfold in his hometown of DeKalb, Maurice McDavid saw a black student he taught in the eighth grade leading a march. He remembered rapping with that student in a Black History Month presentation.

“I want all of our students of color to know that their lives matter, that they have value,” he said. “And, if I can just be very honest, as I watched some of the protesting, some of that anger explode out into rioting -- I've thought about the safety of my students.”

McDavid is a black educator who taught in DeKalb, served as an assistant principal in the district, and will be starting as an elementary school principal in West Chicago next year.

He says he thinks with so many young people getting involved with this movement, it’ll have a seismic impact on how to discuss history, civil rights and activism in schools.

He spoke of his own elementary school-age kids chanting “No justice, no peace” while playing in the backyard.

McDavid was a teacher in DeKalb and will start as an elementary school principal in West Chicago next year.

“How are we going to face and root up the inequities that exist within the education system?” he said. “Because this type of energy? Right now it's focused on policing, but I think that what this is doing is it's opening up people's eyes to the fact that policing is not the only system affected by some of these inequities, by some of this injustice.”

McDavid works with the State Board of Education writing culturally responsive teaching standards. So, he says, he hopes this moment will also open the door for larger conversations about inequities and systemic racism that exist within the education system. That includes students of color being disciplined at higher rates, testing and achievement gaps and more.

He says this summer is a great time for all, but especially white teachers, to reflect on the biases they might carry into the classroom and how that might affect students of color.

And as for his fellow black educators? He says self-care is important. Many schools don't have many black teachers so, he says they often find themselves helping not just students on their roster, but caring for students of color throughout the whole school.