How Communities and Political Leaders Can Support Schools

Governors, mayors, and families are on the front lines of communities coping with changes in the pandemic world. In the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, the Institute’s Education & Society and Ascend programs hosted a digital event on how issues of racial justice play out in our school systems.

Watch Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers; Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller; and Customer Service Supervisor/Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Dermalogica, Learning Program Content Consultant at Cell-Ed, and Ascend PSP Parent Advisor Waukecha Wilkerson discuss how to create lasting social change both in and outside of the classroom as the new school season begins.

Whatever the mode of instruction this school year — in-person, online, a hybrid approach — school systems urgently need more support to access the resources their students, families, and educators need. As the needs of families and youth continue to grow and compound — through the pandemic, the economic upheaval, and the structural racism and racial reckoning gripping the country — it is critical that their voices are centered in pandemic response, re-building efforts, and policy and systems change. Although governors and mayors have varying levels of direct responsibility for schools, they can use the power of their offices to address health and well-being as foundations for learning and support schools for the 2020-21 school year.

This panel looked at cross-agency collaboration, placed-based community work, alternative funding streams, and better means of engaging with students and families inside and outside the school environment (buildings and online), including the Education & Society Program’s new recommendations on these topics. Wilkerson, customer service supervisor/diversity & inclusion lead at Dermalogica, learning program content consultant at Cell-Ed, student at California State University – Sacramento, and a single mother of three, discussed her preparations for the fall semester for herself and her children.

“There’s this assumption that because I’m able to work remotely that I also should be able to take care of three children simultaneously,” Wilkerson said. “There’s several roles that I’ll be wearing this upcoming fall: I’ll be a teacher’s assistant, I’ll be a cafeteria worker, I’ll be a custodian, I’ll be a parent, I’ll be an employee, I’ll be a business owner, I’ll be a manager of a team. So there’ll be a lot of different hats that I’ll be wearing simultaneously throughout the day that I won’t be receiving any additional resources or pay for.” Read about her family’s experience coping with life in quarantine in a blog post for Ascend.

Event Information
Date: August 26, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Location: Virtual
Host: Ascend at the Aspen Institute; Education and Society Program
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