Keep Stories of Resistance at the Forefront: Enid Lee on Talking with Students About School Closings

In the face of Chicago Board of Education plans to close 50 public schools—teachers, parents, and students have rallied to protest what Chicago Teachers’ Union president Karen Lewis describes as a “scorched earth policy.”

Teaching for Change adviser Enid Lee offers her insight on the significance of the current activism surrounding the closures. Lee recommends that when teaching young people about the school closings in Chicago and other cities, the resistance and activism to this injustice should be at the forefront of classroom discussion:

“My thought was, it’s so important for the children to focus on not only the fact that the schools have been closed, but on the resistance to schools being closed.”

“It’s the piece of the headlines in the news that can get missed, because the headline is, ’49 Schools are Closed,’ and it’s terrible. Which it is. And they mostly affect African-American communities. Equally important is what the African-American communities and others are doing about it.”

Lee also discusses the importance of digital media, such as YouTube, as a platform for connecting and collaborating across communities. “When technology and ideology are aligned for human liberation, we have a winning combination,” Lee said.

The video clips below, featuring nine-year-old Asean Johnson, offer an example of how stories of activism in the face of school closings can inspire solidarity:

Lee asserts that technology, such as these video clips, offers a way:

“in which we can… create real villages in our educational worlds because we can reach each other and the voices that would typically be lost, or not heard at all, can be heard.”
“It allows us for an evolving curriculum; an up-to-date, up-to-the-minute, hot-off-the-press evolving curriculum that we need to just take advantage of every day.”

This is the first in a series of reflections from Enid Lee on contemporary issues in education. Enid Lee is the co-editor of Teaching for Change’s publication, Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development.

Thanks to Teaching for Change intern Shelly Wen for preparing this post for the internet.