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SPLC’s Learning for Justice Program Responds to Backlash Against Educators Addressing Race in Schools

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice program curriculum and resources have recently sparked outrage and opposition from conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation, who want educators to cease teaching the role that racism plays in America’s past and present and offering culturally responsive lessons. 
The following statement is by Learning for Justice Director Jalaya Liles Dunn:  

“Schools are the cornerstone of our democracy. They must be a safe space where young people can receive quality instruction and engage in thoughtful discourse to help inform their world views and prepare them for their future. But the recent attempts to censor what educators can teach about race and racism threatens the quality of education all students can receive.  

“Claims that classroom lessons about race and racism are divisive and teach students to see themselves as victims or oppressors are a baseless attempt to usurp the struggle faced by Black and brown communities. And an obvious strategy to uphold the nation’s status quo where injustice continues to permeate every facet of life for marginalized populations. 

“This insensitive attack on a decades-long culturally responsive pedagogy is yet another reason why we proclaim loudly and as often as necessary that Black lives matter because far too often our lives, history and lived experiences are disregarded—and worse.    

“Anti-bias and anti-racist pedagogy are about truth-telling to ensure our country does not repeat or perpetuate the mistakes of our past. The truth can be uncomfortable at times, but it is necessary to achieve the mission of our democracy and the pursuit of justice. In the hands of highly skilled educators, the truth can be transformative and help shape future outcomes for the betterment of all people. Learning for Justice will not allow dissenters, fueled by white supremacist ideology, distract educators from their duty to provide a full and complete education to their students. 

“As an organization based in the deep South, we are all too familiar with the various forms hate and bigotry can take on. We meet this moment with resolve and a belief that justice is possible—for our communities, our schools, ourselves and our children if we persist in love and resist hate.  

“We urge school leaders at all levels to stand firm against hate, commit to truthful education and vigorously resist efforts to maintain the status quo.”