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Dr. Bettina Love Leads Seminars on Race in Education Reform

Dr. Bettina LoveApril 19, 2024 – Author and Abolitionist Teaching Network Co-Founder Dr. Bettina Love took time this week to speak with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools students, educators, and community members and share insights into the educational system’s potential to promote Black excellence.

Love is a professor at Columbia University and is the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller “Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal”. With the ATN, she works with educators nationwide to address and correct systemic injustice in schools, and she’s highly sought after as a public speaker. She’s a fierce proponent of detailed and honest Black History education, citing that facing the difficult truths of racial conflict throughout American history is essential for the nation to keep improving with every new generation.

Crowd Shot“The reason we teach history is to teach young folk how to be more loving, how to be more caring, how to be more thoughtful, how to never repeat those mistakes,” Love said. “If all you have to do is learn about it, that’s okay, because you didn’t have to live it.”

While speaking with students at Carver High School, Love painted a vivid picture of the African American experience through the lens of hip-hop history. A child of the 80s and 90s, she had a lot to say about Black excellence in music, sports, television, and other major pop culture exports. She was an electric presence that got students excited to learn more. Carver is a majority-Black school, and the thoughtful celebration of Black contributions to American culture left many students with a sense of pride that they don’t get to see in the spotlight often enough.

Board Members“I had a student come up to me after and say ‘Ms. McManus, thank you so much for this, I am so inspired and I am so proud of who I am,’” said Superintendent Tricia McManus. “It was honestly the most incredible time with students.”

A later session with educators took a sobering look at the importance of abolitionist teaching. Love pointed to countless examples of efforts in the 20th century to reduce investment in Black public education, ranging from explicit racist actions like shuttering schools instead of integrating them following Brown vs. the Board of Education, to more psychological discrimination like the 90s “super-predator” myth that increased sentencing rates among juvenile offenders and disproportionately affected Black boys, to nearly invisible and deeply entrenched school funding policies that still deny certain resources to schools in Black neighborhoods today. Correcting these mistakes and preventing new ones is a massive national undertaking, but schools can play a vital role by lifting up Black voices and experiences in their curriculum.

Effie McMillian“The curriculum is more than just books – the curriculum tells the child who is important,” Love told educators on Tuesday afternoon. “When you can’t see yourself in the curriculum, you can’t even see yourself in the future.”

Hundreds of WS/FCS teachers, principals, senior leaders, and more were present at one of Love’s sessions, and they left with a new sense of inspiration to do better by students of all backgrounds. WS/FCS strives to prepare its students to be citizens of a global society where people of all creeds and colors can coexist and appreciate each other’s unique perspectives. If educators are mindful to promote those diverse perspectives, their students will be more likely to succeed as a result.

“They are young people still growing and developing, and they deserve a chance,” said Chief Equity Officer Effie McMillian. “The future is bright for them if we give them that chance and we truly, truly see them, hear them, and value them.”

Jake Browning
(336) 727-8213 Ext. 70545