I am excited to share that I've been asked to facilitate a keynote conversation with education writer and activist Chris Stewart at the third annual Washington State Charter Schools Association Conference on May 13. (Spoiler: I said yes.)
The entire conference looks great, with an overt focus on equity and advocacy. Sessions include titles like "Using Racial Equity Tool to Eliminate Systematic Racism," "Hot Button Issues: Student Discipline & Disproportionality," and "Supporting Teachers & Leaders of Color." Nice.
I'm particularly happy that WA Charters chose Chris Stewart as their keynote speaker, not only because they asked me to participate, but because I think it reflects and reinforces the charter sector's commitment to equity and to having honest conversations about race. Chris is a renowned speaker and writer on the subject of racial equity in public education, and he's the man behind Citizen Ed, a blog, podcast and full-blown education news and opinion page. If you're not familiar with his work, I would encourage you to start reading.
I knew him first as an inspiring voice writing and speaking on behalf of marginalized communities, exposing inequity in schools and demanding change. As I've gotten to know him over the past couple years, I've only come to appreciate more the depth of his wisdom and the strength of his vision when it comes to the fight for better schools.
Take this nugget, for instance, from an insightful post Chris wrote about social justice in education reform:
We can’t become paralyzed or disillusioned. We can’t live in our feelings forever. We can’t forget that lives and minds are at risk, and we can’t live the values we profess if we wilt in the face of setbacks.
No, we can’t join the right-wingers as they attempt to nationalize Michigan’s charter school sewer and make all of America an education casino. But, we can’t join the unionists either as they attempt to remove all accountability from public education as a way to hide unacceptable levels of failure.
And we can’t sit on the sidelines as passive bystanders feeling jilted as forces from the left and right threaten to unwind most of the educational progress we’ve made over decades.
All we can do is stay clear and focused on our permanent interests: accountable systems, high standards that are transparent, better options for kids trapped in poorly performing schools, and a focus on human rights for people who have suffered historic discrimination.
We've got a lot to talk about, and I have a lot of questions. What would you like to ask Chris Stewart? What should we make sure to talk about? Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter (@HalvyHalvorson), in an email, or really any other way you can come up with. I'm not too picky.