Blog

By Susie Smith, Teacher, Spark Academy in Lawrence | In the transition towards active antiracism, schools have repeatedly overlooked one vital point: we are often disenfranchising the students we are trying to serve. In our conversations about antiracism, is it not crucial to hear from the students who have experience in the classrooms? Research is valuable, and teacher input is imperative, but excluding student voice in conversations about the student experience is marginalizing the very voices that need to be at the center of our thinking and planning. Yet across the country and throughout history, students are so rarely welcomed into discussions of reimagining teaching and learning.
With the vast majority of students engaged in either remote or hybrid learning, parents and caregivers are feeling the strain of balancing work responsibilities with their child’s learning at home. For far too many, this challenge is made more daunting by job loss, unstable living situations, and illness. Remote learning is new for almost everyone and, naturally, parents have a lot of questions. Is my child learning? What’s my role? How can I help? It can feel overwhelming. As important as it may seem to worry about every single aspect of your child’s education, focusing on a few key things can help manage your stress and ensure your child has a meaningful learning experience.

Sinead Chalmers’ deep commitment to improving public education brought her to the Rennie Center six years ago, where she has since made her mark on nearly every aspect of the organization’s work. Leading research, writing reports, and heading up on-the-ground projects, Sinead works tirelessly to shed light on inequities and elevate strategies to improve our education system for all students.

This school year has been far from what we once considered normal. COVID-19 has drastically shifted the way students learn and teachers teach. Most students are learning remotely at least part of the time, and when children are in school they are wearing masks and staying distant. It’s a challenging time for students, teachers, and families. But amid all these sudden changes, are there opportunities for long-term changes that would make our schools even better than before the pandemic?  To find the answer, we went to the experts: educators. Last month, we held a virtual forum to hear from those working in and with schools to learn what’s working, what's not working, and what opportunities there are to propel our education system into a future that’s brighter for all students.
With less than a week until the 2020 election, Rennie's Meghan Volcy takes a close look at the history and current state of civics education, examines the importance of giving young people the tools to engage in the democratic process, and reflects on her own journey in civic engagement.
The Rennie Center is thrilled to introduce our three newest team members: Elle Jansen, Meghan Volcy, and Sophie Zamarripa! Read more about the experience they bring to the Rennie Center and the new projects they are working on.
Guest Blog Post by the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health’s BRYT program: In the past couple of months the look and feel of education have drastically shifted for educators, students, and families. These changes have been unexpected and unwanted, and to many they still feel unresolved. Students, educators, and families are finding themselves chronically holding the unknown, while trying to make the future somewhat predictable. The unpredictability of change, the chronic holding of the unknown, and the magnitude of change have increased stress levels for everyone involved in education. We believe that when children are stressed they can't learn.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have led me to reflect on my role in our dominant white culture. I have asked myself how the organization I lead can better address the inequities that plague our society and, as righteous anger and protests erupted, why I haven’t done more. As a white man, I want to be a strong ally. I am not sure how. But to be an ally, I know I need to start by examining my own understanding of systems of oppression and how I may be complicit in them.
Equality of opportunity is, and has been, on the decline. Racial and economic segregation has intensified educational gaps between rich and poor students, and between white students and students of color. The results of these inequities are pervasive in our education system and beyond. Black and Latino individuals, and other racial and ethnic minorities, are underrepresented in leadership, underserved in schools, and confronted with large gaps in opportunity and outcomes when compared to their white peers. How can we begin dismantling the structures that reinforce these inequities? Should we rethink our approach to teaching and learning? To find those answers, we’ve teamed up with more than 40 like-minded local organizations to form Open Opportunity – Massachusetts. 
Words cannot express the anguish we feel over the senseless killing of George Floyd and countless other acts of violence against communities of color, particularly Black men, around our country. We stand in solidarity with those crying out in pain, anger, and grief over this horrific loss of life—and the deep, systemic racism that created the conditions for this injustice to occur.