January: Education Justice

Listen as a podcast!

Education not only shapes values and beliefs, but it also helps people grow and develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Education empowers people to address the urgency of our time and to act. Lack of access to quality education is one of the root causes of poverty and economic hardship which in turn drive people to choose migration as a means of seeking job opportunities and improving their lives. However, individuals belonging to marginalized groups are often denied access to adequate education, resulting in significant differences in educational success and efficacy.

Panelists: Megan Dewane, Mary Elizabeth Grimes & Sister Mary Willette, SSND – Learn more about our panelists below.
Host: Charish Badzinski

  1. Pay attention to AND engage with education at the local and state levels.
  2. Equity in education begins with educating yourself. See every child for their uniqueness. Use culture as a resource, not a weapon. Commit to providing a quality education for every child.
  3. Reach out to a school in your area and offer to volume for mentor a student who needs access to support.

21 Day Challenge for Racial Equity & Social Justice
YWCA in St. Louis has resources for you to grow and learn about racial equity & social justice. Join the 21 day challenge to taking a stand against racism.

The Asset-Based Feedback Protocol
Providing timely feedback to students is so integral to teaching that we rarely stop to think about what makes it effective or ineffective, particularly for our students of color.

Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality
Joel Spring’s history of school polices imposed on dominated groups in the United States examines the concept of deculturalization―the use of schools to strip away family languages and cultures and replace them with those of the dominant group. The focus is on the education of dominated groups forced to become citizens in territories conquered by the U.S., including Native Americans, Enslaved Africans, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Hawaiians. 

For the Sake of All
A report on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis and why it matters for everyone.

Hear from Jason Purnell, PhD, MPH, a principal researcher on the study.

Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction
This tool provides teachers an opportunity to examine their actions, beliefs, and values around teaching mathematics. The framework for deconstructing racism in mathematics offers essential characteristics of antiracist math educators and critical approaches to dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by making visible the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture (Jones and Okun 2001; dismantling Racism 2016) with respect to math. Building on the framework, teachers engage with critical praxis in order to shift their instructional beliefs and practices towards antiracist math education. By centering antiracism, we model how to be antiracist math educators with accountability.

How to Be an Anti-Racist
The House Rules Committee released amended text for the Build Back Better Act. In addition to the $150 billion in proposed housing investments that were part of the draft released on October 28, the lIbram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. 

Meet Our Panelists

Megan Dewane

Born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin, Megan Dewane received bachelor’s degrees in English and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After working in the private sector for five years, she returned to UW-Madison to fulfill her lifelong goal of becoming a teacher.  She earned her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with licenses to teach English and English as a Second Language (ESL). Megan is currently teaching at a public high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, servicing predominantly students from low income backgrounds. Reinforced by her own classroom experience, she seeks opportunities to fight for education equity for all students. 

Mary Elizabeth Grimes

Mary Elizabeth Grimes has been the president of Marian Middle School, St. Louis, Missouri, since December 2013. An effective leader with more than 20 years of experience, Mary Elizabeth has led both for-profits and nonprofits through successful growth and transition. Prior to her role at Marian, Mary Elizabeth served as State Director at the Greater Missouri Chapter of March of Dimes where she transformed the chapter into a sustainable and operationally efficient organization. 

Mary Elizabeth received her bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College and an Executive MBA from Washington University. As president, she is responsible for staff oversight, financial management, fund development, strategic planning, and operations for the school. In December 2016, she received the Incarnate Word Leadership Award for exemplary leadership and for mentoring Marian girls.

Sister Mary Willette, SSND

Sister Mary Willette has spent most of her life in Catholic schools as a student, teacher, academic dean, and administrator. In 1968, Sister Mary professed vows as a School Sister of Notre Dame, a community with the charism of education. Guided and inspired by this charism, she learned that education gives young people the opportunity to develop to their full potential and a “power” to transform the world. Following years of ministry in the traditional Catholic schools, Sister Mary began service as principal of San Miguel Middle School of Minneapolis, a school designed to educate and empower inner city youth. After serving five years as coordinator at the Generalate of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Rome, Italy, Sister Mary returned to formal education at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis where she presently serves as coordinator of volunteers.

Sister Mary received her bachelor’s degree in religious education from Mount Mary in Milwaukee, a master’s degree in theology from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and her administrative licensure from the University of Saint Mary’s in Minneapolis.

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