In dramatic, urgent language, K-12 schools across the country – both public and private – professed solidarity with Black Lives Matter and vowed to dismantle white supremacy, as they scrambled to introduce anti-racist courses and remake themselves into racism-free zones.
The president of the Lower Merion School Board on Philadelphia's affluent Main Line declared to families: "We need to eradicate white supremacy and heteropatriarchy in all of our institutions."
In Maine, a coastal public school district where 3.7% of the 2,100 students are African American or Hispanic, the superintendent declared war on "the intentional barriers white people have built to harm Black people." The top administrator added: "We grieve for all of the Black lives taken by white supremacy."
Educators at the prestigious Brentwood College School in Los Angeles, have made more changes to the curriculum this year than any other in the private school's nearly five decade history. Teachers are introducing critical race theory, which views U.S. history through the prism of racial conflict, and assigning readings from Ibram X. Kendi, the academic and author who contends race-neutral policies are the bulwark of the "White ethnostate."
As part of the makeover, Brentwood School leaders have rolled out a fresh theme this year for fifth graders: "Identity and Power."
"While some view these recent shifts as indoctrination, we see them as opportunities for engagement," Brentwood's head of school, Mike Riera, wrote to families this fall, acknowledging the growing resistance from some parents. "Will we overstep in some areas? Possibly. Will we understep in others? Possibly."