Are we willing to take courageous action? If we hope to disrupt poverty, according to Kathleen Budge, we must be willing to take action. We have to make ourselves vulnerable. We have to act with a sense of urgency.
Paul Forbes, Executive Director, NYC Department of Education & Natalie Zwerger, Director of NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools also believe in taking action – an action focused on equity. School suspensions are highest amongst black male students with Latino males next highest. If you look at gifted programs, most are comprised of white students, next Latino students, and least black students. Fewer than 3% of English Language Learners are in gifted programs. Mr. Forbes feels we have to disrupt existing narratives. We must confront race and power. We have to promote equity for students that do not have the experiences that we have. It is also important to empower our students as agents of social change.
Coming soon to a theater near you is the movie Just Mercy. This movie is based on the book, Just Mercy, A Story of Justice & Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. This is a description given of Bryan Stevenson: “Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.”
“The opposite of poverty is justice” is one of Stevenson's most memorable lines.”
Do we remain silent? Do we have the courage to take action? Do we “rise up”?
York Academy is named after a slave – a slave who made a difference and contributed to one of the greatest expeditions, the Lewis & Clark expedition. York Academy is an attempt to rise up and to give equity to young children. One day our hope is to provide a quality learning experience for a diverse group of children. We advocate on behalf of young children in order to make a difference.
During this Christmas season, we will hear and some of us will sing Silent Night. Jesus was born in the silence of the night. We hear nothing of his boyhood years - silence. But as Jesus begins his ministry, silence ends. He rises up. Jesus gives a voice to the poor, the blind, the lame, the outcasts... For many, Jesus was and is the greatest teacher to have walked this earth. Even as Jesus approaches death, he is not silent – “Father forgive them – for they know not what they do.” “I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise,” he says to the thief on the cross. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And just when we think all is lost, He rises up! Jesus took courageous action!
What is our response? We don’t have to be as courageous as Jesus. No one can be that perfect. We can begin by showing love and mercy as Jesus taught. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to love, and to show mercy. May our children be blessed with love and mercy and courage to do what is right and just!