Points of Unity

New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) is a group of public school educators committed to fighting for social justice in our school system and society at large, by organizing and mobilizing teachers, developing curriculum, and working with community, parent, and student organizations. We are educators who believe that education is an integral part of social change and that we must work both inside and outside the classroom because the struggle for justice does not end when the school bell rings.

Points of Unity- Revised 2022

1. We believe in education that centers collective liberation and self-actualization for everyone.

Currently, racism, especially anti-Black racism, neoliberalism, and racial capitalism are driving forces in educational systems, policies, and practices. These forces perpetuate the systematic and historical oppression of BIPOC and other marginalized folx; they work in concert with all forms of oppression to perpetuate a school system that is antithetical to collective liberation. As educators, we have a responsibility to address systems of oppression and their manifestations as they impact our students, our profession, and public education as a whole…

2. We believe that humans are complex and beautiful and cannot be evaluated by a number. 

We oppose high stakes standardized testing, as well as punitive grading measures, because they are tools of corporatization, stratification, and social reproduction meant to rank students and teachers rather than recognize their humanity. We recognize the racist history of standardized testing in the eugenics movement. We support creative approaches to develop local, holistic assessments that provide more insight than one-size-fits-all exams and numerical grades. Rather than replacing tests with tests, we believe schools need to develop more democratic, student-centered systems of assessment and grading.

3. We believe education should center healing and address the systemic causes and impacts of harm using transformative justice practices.

Punitive disciplinary measures and policing inside and outside of schools disproportionately criminalize low-income students, BIPOC students and students with disabilities, and are not an answer to crime and other social problems. 

Accountability approaches that work toward transformative justice and foster community accountability. Educators and schools should build restorative justice practices*, honor and name the Indigenous roots of this work, and develop an understanding of the systems of oppression that many of the harms in our society come from. 

Note: We recognize that restorative justice intends to restore back and that schools are often inherently violent places, making restorative justice unattainable. We also recognize that transformative justice practices often operate outside of institutions as they currently exist and so we are using restorative justice as actions that are currently being attempted in schools. However, we envision a world where educational spaces use transformative justice practices but also know that we have a long way to get there.

* Tier 1. Community and relationship building, Tier 2. Community and relationship repair and conflict resolution, Tier 3. Reintegration after a removal or other kind of absence.

4. We believe schools should be places of global solidarity and sanctuary so that people can live in their full humanity.

We oppose state violence in any form—military recruitment at school sites, policies that encourage marginalized students to enlist, the presence of police and metal detectors in schools, the idealization of war in our curriculum, the presence of ICE in our schools, other measures that encourage increased contact with law enforcement, to name a few. These efforts are an extension of an imperialist, colonialist and racist strategy to protect and promote U.S. world dominance, and oppress BIPOC and poor peoples around the country and world.  

As educators, we should create curricula that critically examine U.S. imperialism and colonization and fight for schools as true sanctuaries.

5. We believe school funding policies should ensure equitable resources for all through transparency and accountability from community members.

The prevailing funding structure based upon property taxes discriminates against low-income communities and urban areas, which disproportionately affect BIPOC students. Approaches to educational “reform” that rely on private philanthropy, venture capital, and other non-public forms of funding along with the ciphering of public funds to charter schools are part of a broader trend of divestment from public education.  The current system of mayoral control in many urban areas gives politicians and public education leaders unchecked power to decide how taxpayers’ money is allocated in public schools. School district and individual school budgets should be determined by all stakeholders, especially parents and students. Funding high-quality and equitable public education is a public responsibility that should be shared for the benefit of the common good.

6. We believe schools should be affirming spaces for every human’s varying gender and sexual identities.  

Schools often perpetuate cisheteropatriarchy. People who identify as (or are perceived as being) women/girls, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning (LGBTQAI+ and beyond) are verbally, physically, and emotionally abused in and outside of schools in addition to being excluded and othered in curriculum and by the school community. All school community members must cultivate spaces that actively affirm LGBTQAI+ youth, families and staff. This can be done through centering queer joy and play, providing gendering affirming health resources, LGBTQAI+ forward curriculum, comprehensive sexual education, and access to gender neutral bathrooms, among others actions.  

7. We believe schools should be places of questioning and critical thinking.

The current factory model is not student-centered and devalues teacher expertise; stifles creativity due to standardized tests/curriculum and the elimination of the arts, health and movement classes; polices bodies and language; and generates burnout due to lack of school staff support and large class sizes; and more. 

We believe that all students deserve school environments that nurture creativity and inquiry, foster love, and embrace their communities. Teaching and learning should enable students to see themselves as transformative agents of change.

8. We believe schools should be part of their communities. 

Top-down bureaucracy, mayoral control, and racism lead to a lack of relationships and trust between schools, families, and the communities they serve. Thus,  schools are often distant and far removed from the lives of students. 

Schools should be loving, healing-centered spaces where all community voices are heard. There should be mutual accountability between families, community members and school workers in addressing the needs and care of the local and NYC wide community. Genuine school and community solidarity have the power to transform our society and create radical possibilities.

9. We believe all students deserve an environment where they can flourish physically, intellectually, and emotionally. 

Our education system promotes an ableist, eurocentric, English-dominant, deficit-based framework in which many students cannot thrive, and their strengths and differences are ignored or penalized. This mistreatment, miseducation, and misidentification disproportionately impacts disabled students and multilingual learners, especially those with multiple marginalizations. 

Schools must be spaces in which all students receive holistic support, which includes academic, social, emotional, language, and health services that are true to their individual needs. All students deserve the right to live fully self-determined lives.

10. We believe in the power of social justice unionism to transform our schools and ultimately our world. 

The United Federation of Teachers was founded on anti-socialist and anti-black racist views through redbaiting, and later, striking against the Black community in the 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville Strike. This history, along with the UFT’s bureaucracy and lack of transparency, has disillusioned many members and pinned its members against the students and families they serve. The UFT must recognize the impact of its actions by paying reparations to the Ocean Hill-Brownsville communities and creating more democracy among its rank and file members and accountability within its leadership. As UFT members and educational stakeholders, we should organize to transform the UFT to be a social justice and rank and file led teachers union in solidarity with students and community in order to radically improve the working and learning conditions of school staff and students.

11. In order to combat economic, social, and political systems that actively silence Black, Indigenous, People of Color, women, and gender expansive folx, NYCoRE is committed to being an intersectional, anti-oppressive organization.  We maintain a majority of women, gender expansive and BIPOC representation in our leadership and strive* to do the same in our community. 

* We know the majority of educators are White women. Striving to do this has not always meant that our spaces have majority BIPOC representation…

NYCoRE Political Goals

Goal #1: To raise consciousness of the social inequities fostered in public schools settings, and teachers potential roles in reproducing or resisting them.

Goal #2: To initiate action around educational justice issues.

Goal #3: To link educators to the broader social justice movement through social action and educational justice work.

Goal #4: To facilitate coalition building between educators, parents and students.

Goal #5: To promote liberatory educational practice and classrooms, and schools.

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