Blog

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.
This year, educators and students are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day from a distance. In this trying time, we are reminded of the important role educators play in the lives of students, not just as academic guides but as figures of stability and social and emotional support. As students struggle with social isolation, anxiety around the ongoing pandemic, and the challenges of remote learning, educator and student relationships are as important as ever. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we spoke with two educators who are finding ways to support their students’ social and emotional well-being, despite not being together in person.
The Rennie Center will be rolling out a Back-to-School Blueprint, an interactive series of research-based, online modules to help schools get ready to reopen. The Blueprint aims to help schools implement practices that will not only address the pressing issues facing our students right now, but also become building blocks for a more supportive and high-performing system in general.
As our communities adjust to school closings and social isolation, we recognize the struggles our teachers, parents, and colleagues are facing. At the Rennie Center, we are doing our small part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by working remotely and postponing all in-person events. In this time of upheaval, anxiety, and isolation, we hope we can provide some small sense of support by sharing this list of resources for those looking for information.
Teachers use curriculum materials every day and have a deep understanding of curriculum’s ability to support effective instruction. So when the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was seeking to develop and share information on high-quality curriculum options, they naturally turned to the experts: Massachusetts educators. Through the CURATE project (CUrriculum RAtings by TEachers), the Rennie Center partners with DESE to convene panels of local educators, who review and evaluate curricula.
To get a better idea of the value of the CURATE (CUrriculum RAtings by TEachers) experience for participating teachers—and for teachers and schools across the state—we asked three current CURATE panelists to answer a series of questions about their experience.

On January 23, the Rennie Center released our annual status report to an audience of nearly 300 state leaders, legislators, students, and educators. This year’s Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report examines the need for new ways of measuring student success, with a focus on three key areas: supporting the whole child, serving all students, and building multiple pathways to college and career.

Talk to students participating in Rhode Coders 2.0, an after-school program run out of the Providence Public Library, and you learn quickly that coding is just one of many skills they’re building. As a student reported, “I’ve learned that perseverance is important. If something is wrong with the code you have to test things.” Another added, “Creativity is a big part of the program.” Rhode Coders 2.0, along with a number of other programs from Boston and Providence, has been part of a two-year pilot to issue credentials known as digital badges to students who demonstrate critical competencies such as perseverance, creativity, leadership, and communication.