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September 2021Volume 21, No. 3
The Role of Schools in Racial Justice

Because they are central to redressing the country’s longstanding racial inequities, public schools have long been at the nexus of fraught debates over what constitutes equity. As many states considered measures this year animated by varying interpretations of critical race theory and concerns about its application to K-12 teaching, this tension came into sharper than normal focus.

The debates focused on “what” and “how”: What history do teachers teach? How do they handle hard history and contentious issues? We hope the questions of why and whether schools have a role in promoting a just society are settled: All children can learn if they receive excellent instruction and equal opportunities to learn, have the supports they need, and feel safe and a sense of belonging at school. It is what justice requires, and yet the country is not there yet. The authors in this issue address how schools can progress toward equity.

The Role of Schools in Racial Justice

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Achieving Racial Justice in PreK-12 Education

By Denise Forte and John B. King Jr.

Progress is possible. Back to normal is not good enough.

Designing for Equity

By Hal Smith

It takes a whole community to lift up policies and practices that support equity and end those that don't.

Teacher Diversity and Student Success

By Constance A. Lindsay

State policymakers should name diversity as a marker of teacher quality.

Equity and English Learners Post-Pandemic

By Julie Sugarman and Melissa Lazarín

State leaders should ramp up supports for EL students and their families.

Racial Justice through Expanded Choice

By Derrell Bradford

Decoupling where students receive education from where they live is key to undoing the system's racist roots.

Supporting Youth with the Most Need

By Hailly T.N. Korman

For many, the pandemic has been just one of a host of barriers to a high-quality education.

Engaging Students through Ethnic Studies

By Woody Exley

California, Connecticut, and Texas broaden their elective offerings.

District of Columbia Embeds Antiracist Lens in Update of Social Studies Standards

By Alexander Jue and Jessica Sutter

State board tees up a revision process and standards characterized by civic engagement and cultural responsiveness.

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Empowering Youth to Prevent Suicide

This NASBE analysis highlights state action examples, identifies multipronged approaches to youth suicide prevention, and discusses federal funding opportunities available to states to support peer-to-peer programming.
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How States Are Handling Lead in School Drinking Water

This NASBE analysis details how statewide efforts to test for lead in school drinking water vary across the country.
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The Role of Schools in Racial Justice

Authors in this issue argue schools can progress toward educational equity only if, at every challenge, state leaders are willing to make decisions that put the needs of our most vulnerable students first.

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