Reforming School Policing to Interrupt White Supremacy: How to truly value Black Lives

Jumoke Hinton Hodge, OUSD Board of Education Director, reflects on Resolution No. 1920 – 0260

We are experiencing Uprisings in the spirit of Brianna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Yvette Henderson, Rayshard Brooks, Andreas Guardado and Oscar Grant and demanding an end to police brutality and the minimizing and destroying Black Bodies and Minds. In light of this current situation, I want to add my support to the movement within OUSD to interrupt white supremacy and the structures we support inside of OUSD that diminish black lives.

The winds of change at a national level inspire us to look at our institutions and systems that have generationally subjected Black people in America to inadequate educational opportunities, while criminalizing them in schools, classrooms, and their neighborhoods. As a result of supporting this resolution in OUSD, the Board of Education should demand there is an honest look at its own disease inside of our institution- from instruction in the classroom, curriculum, operations, hiring and retention of employees that perpetuate whiteness in our system. This resolution should include reform of our policing and security operations as well as seek reform directly inside our schools and classrooms. 

I am excited to offer what I believe to be important amendments that will speak directly to the underlying issue – interrupt white supremacy and institutional racism within our school district. We might eliminate a specialized police force that works with our education institutions, but we won’t eliminate underlying historical behaviors and practices that harm black children.

I began to think about who needs to do the work of interrupting white supremacy in Oakland Unified School District. I begin with Board of Education and Administration

  • Commitment of Every Board Member representing Oakland students, families and educators to fully participate in implicit bias training on an ongoing basis. 
  • Commitment to a Race Equity Framework  and an Examination of Institutional Racism in OUSD: Teaching, leadership, administration, and  Board of Education – develop anti-racist platform for OUSD. For example: addressing racists hate crimes on OUSD campuses, e.g., swastika’s on Skyline’s campus 

OUSD will publicly share the framework used to address race equity throughout the organization. We should Commit to an Infrastructure that is budgetarily supported on an ongoing and sustained basis to address race equity work within OUSD (i.e., a Race Equity Team), that works throughout every department of the District. 

We should measure progress and hold ourselves Accountable to doing this race equity work with quarterly reporting. The Budget Realignment should address improved engaged instruction and culturally appropriate curriculum.  This last budgetary recommendation came as a result of a conversation I had with a veteran African American male educator in Oakland who passionately asked me – “Can we actually talk about the instruction and engaged education happening in classrooms?” He was annoyed that we were only talking about behavior, further pathologizing and identifying almost every balck child in the educational system as being uneducable and traumatized. We both agree that racism is traumatizing but we also know that when there are high expectations and a dedication to teaching our children, we can interrupt historical undeserving and under-educating black students.

With that in mind, I will be offering amendments demanding improvement of instruction. We want an anti-racist school district and classrooms, then we have work to do and it begins with all of our staff. Just like in the case of addressing collective bargaining issues with the sworn officers and the School Site Officers (SSO’s) we will need to speak directly with the Oakland Education Association. 

Teaching and Learning 

  • We must redefine the work of SSO’s to support the educational process of students. We should consider the idea of campus supervisors and create an opportunity for SSO’s to be involved in the educational process of every student on their campus.We don’t want to fall into stereotypical roles of the predominant black and male workforce as just disciplinarians. We want them to be honored as culture keepers and integral part of the educational plans of students. This will require training and intentionally built teams across all staff. Again, we won’t interrupt whiteness if we don’t ensure that all teachers and educators are actively involved in receiving training on de-escalation techniques, mediation, crisis intervention, restorative justice, and anti-bias training.

It is without question that any resolution or new policy must demand an end to the use of POLICE IN SCHOOLS AS A SOLUTION TO STUDENT DISCIPLINE.

  • Lastly, we must hold our system Accountable in a different way – this can’t be a dirty word, if we are serious about naming and measuring progress to set goals and impact the teaching and learning of black students in our system. Once again, it does us no good to pathologize our students for mental health and social emotional programs – we must dedicate as much attention to instruction. Remember this uprising is in the midst of a pandemic – many students and families will return to our system with the same demands for quality education but with the added burden of economic and health issues impacting the family and community. 
  • With the passing of this resolution, we are now obligated to monitor progress of the safety plan, the improvement of the instructional practices of our educators. I welcome 40 calls and 100 emails a day ensuring that our educators, policy makers, and staff are held accountable and interrupting white supremacy at a systemic level. Let’s ensure we are reporting on a quarterly basis – tracking what’s important and what we must improve.

I’ll be bringing amendments to address the family and communities role in fulfilling this resolution. 

  • And last but not least, community responsibility – family responsibility – No blaming, real talk — lets hold each other accountable. We can’t bring drama and fights on campus. Educators must create relationships – know what’s happening in the community to support deescalation before it hits our campuses. Bottom line, we can’t have family members showing up to curse out teachers or come beat up somebody’s child. When families show up to advocate for their children – engage them –  don’t ignore them and then wonder why you get that righteous anger spilling into your hallways. Are we going to Interrupt our institutional barriers that have many families at their wits end trying to be heard? We must develop structures to hold families and communities responsible for upholding safety and security plans on campus, i.e., reducing physical altercations on campuses by families and community members. Families, parents, guardians, and other stakeholders must all be a part of designing this plan. 

Yes, we are in the midst of two pandemics: one impacts our health and the other is racially charged, both capable of destroying our community if we are not diligent and dedicated to being a school district that truly serves ALL students and fights racism. We have to demonstrate WILL and SKILL to be interrupters. keeping ever present in our mind the distribution of privilege and power within OUSD. Reimagine a world where policing is not our first response to safety but a meaningful opportunity for the community to care for itself and truly care for each other. Allow this resolution to open the door to reforming, reimagining, and restoring confidence in our public education system.

I am ever grateful for the opportunity to serve my community. I have appreciated the amazing sustained engagement over the last few weeks. I have welcomed my growing edge of the learning and diversity of perspectives I have encountered. The ancestoral wisdom of my uncle Butch, who was the first Black Sargent, Lieutenant, and Captain in the Raleigh North Carolina police force  in the late 60’s and 70’s, has guided me. Because of this I don’t prescribe to the idea of abolishment, but I’ve had the grace of elders and sistah friends engaging me; they’ve helped me to stretch. 

I am especially grateful for the young men of African American Male Achievement Department of Oakland – they too helped me to validate the fear and exhaustion of Black men and women dealing with the presence of too much policing. It’s real for so many of us.  Thank you to the many advocates and voices for change! I only ask that you call me 40 times a day and email me to make these amendments real! We can make change in our education system. 

While this Resolution is named in memory of George Floyd –  I dedicate these amendments to the living Black children of OUSD. I want to honor Ms. Gianna Floyd, daughter of George Floyd. She eloquently reminds us ‘Her daddy is changing the world!’ Happy Father’s Day in Heaven Mr. George Floyd -You have changed the world and we are responsible for being the change! 

Ase and Amen! May the Ancestors Be Pleased.

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