How do you lead a revolution for Black students? On the latest episode of the “8 Black Hands” podcast, educator-organizer-activist DeRay Mckesson shared his thoughts on the crucial next steps for the American education system at the start of a new presidential administration.  

Mckesson stressed that the American education system regularly fails to teach kids the basics.

“I worry that people get too far away from just making sure our kids have the core skills,” he said. “All the extra stuff is great but our kids have to be able to read.”

“One thing that happens with Black and Brown, and low income kids, people want to just ‘show them love,’ and not focus on still teaching them skills,” Mckesson continued.

But to give kids skills, educators must first believe kids can actually learn. That seems like it’s a given, but, well, let Mckesson tell you:

“When we were hiring teachers we would ask candidates if they believe all kids could learn—a shocking number of them said no.”

Once (if?) kids get the basics, brightbeam CEO Chris Stewart pointed out that there is still a ton of work to do to serve individual Black students’ needs.

“We don’t think about the full range of Black kids we have in our schools,” Stewart said. “It’s not just a white thing to have ‘nerdy interests,’ we have geeks and jocks and everything else too.”

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