Truth, Learning and Change: An Update on the Boston Busing/Desegregation Project

Posted: September 26, 2016 by Donna Bivens in Uncategorized


updateIt’s been two years since BBDP released its anniversary report Unfinished Business: Seven Questions, Seven Lessons (UB7&7). Since that time we have been using the seven lessons of that report to bridge the complex “truth” of our history(ies) and the “change” that is needed to address the patterns that continue to get in the way of real equity, access and excellence in public education and beyond. People here and nationwide have responded powerfully to UB7&7 and the utility of the questions to promote a continuous learning and inquiry stance for social justice.

Since the release of that report there have been some setbacks for our small staff, However, a small but powerful and creative leadership team has  continued to learn and to share in and from so many venues. We’ve had or participated in on going story circles and “Talkabouts”,  selective interviews, education justice organizing, workshops, training and consultations. Others who were or are part of BBDP are involved in initiatives throughout the city that are also addressing many of the issues we all named in UB7&7. The more we have done the more we have learned and that learning has brought us to reimagine our work.

The world of education justice is infinitely more complex than I  understood when I started working on BBDP.  One challenge I’ve had as the director of the project is that the more I learn,  the more I see that I don’t know! Some brilliant thought leaders in BBDP—like the late Loretta Williams—could see the big picture long before we were working on UB7&7.  Back in the spring of 2014, she wrote complex analysis of what was going on in the current public school battle and the connection to the desegregation history.  She wrote it for BBDP leadership but for whatever reason, we as a collective were not able to process it back then. UB7&7 was what we collectively understood at the time though we continue to draw on and share the wisdom of her analysis.

Recently, I believe the 21st century threats to public education are much more broadly seen, understood and communicated to and by more people. When we take in what we’ve learned since UB7&7, we stand by the seven questions of the report that must be addressed although we have made some changes to how we state them and the lessons that flow out of them. In  2017 we will be releasing a follow up report with new lessons and directions. The lesson we have decided we need to zero in own is developing our own racism and class literacy curriculum and work.

Currently and in the near future, we are and will be using the blog to support Question 2 and deepen understanding of the issues around the history, systemic racism, and class that undergird the struggles around public education.  Again, we don’t claim to be experts on education but learners, and we will share all that we learn in the process

As a preview, we will be using consultations, trainings and especially “Talkabouts”—a civic engagement process designed by Robbie McCauley—to plot out a racism and class literacy curriculum. While our emphasis is on Black and Brown communities, in keeping with the mission of Union of Minority Neighborhoods but we will be sharing and learning with people across differences working on education justice.

The city, the nation, the globe are in the midst of rapid change around issues of education justice. We take to heart Howard Zinn’s admonition that “you can’t stay neutral on a moving train” and we have taken a stand on “No on Question 2”. We will use what we are learning in the process of seeing this battle with the charter movement (not individual “qualified” charter schools) unfold to help develop our curriculum.

We will share articles about this and make links to how patterns we are seeing here are happening nationally and even globally. We will continue to make links to the history of segregation, of desegregation, of systemic racism, and class stratification that goes not just back to 1974’s desegregation process but to the very grounding and founding of this nation.

We see ourselves as part of a larger community of systemic change/movement building and welcome your feedback and insights . We invite your thoughts, your concerns, your pain, your dreams and your lived experience as we do another spiral ring of truth, learning and change.



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