In honor of Earth Day, we at Insight are reflecting on how environmental issues impact students, and particularly students of color. As a result of injustices such as gentrification and colonialism, students of low-income backgrounds often attend schools that neighbor waste plants, oil rigs, and many other industrial sites that contain toxins. According to the EPA's October 2019 report, America's Children and the Environment, environment-related health problems are persistent among some groups of children, especially black children from families living below the poverty line, with race and poverty playing a disproportionate role.The construction of hazardous waste sites and oil rigs in low-income areas have had a detrimental impact for students and their education. So as community members, educators, and district and school leaders, what is our role in ensuring that students still have access to an equitable and safe education despite the environmental injustices that they face?
5 Questions to Create Safe and Equitable Education
- As an education community, how can we acknowledge that environmental racism is prevalent in our community?
- How do we address harmful environmental factors as we develop our strategic plans and operational budgets?
- How do the effects of environmental injustice impact the social emotional development of our students?
- How do we explicitly tackle these injustices in our SEL instruction and support?
- When it comes to environmental racism and injustice, what is in our power to change?
It is critical for us to understand that the root cause of educational inequity and environmental inequity fall into the same systems of racism and oppression. Uncovering these root causes and acknowledging them will empower us to develop solutions around these key questions.
As an educational community, it is our responsibility to be aware of the dangers our students face as they walk to and from school, the pollutants in the area while students eat lunch outdoors, and the social emotional distress that students and faculty may face as a result of these issues. We must identify ways to protect our students and their communities from these injustices and examine what systems must be removed or changed in order to make a holistic change.
The current federal government is beginning to make strides to address the environmental impact that climate change and global warming are having on our global community. It is our responsibility to address these issues locally, so that students can access a high quality, equitable education as a result of our efforts.
Are you looking for support to teach environmental justice lessons in your classroom? Check out a few of these resources below to help guide you.
- Teaching Intersectionality and Environmental Justice in Our Classrooms
- How to Construct an Environmental Justice Lesson Plan
- Analyzing Environmental Racism Lesson Plan
- A People’s Curriculum for the Earth
Creating Racial Equity in the Classroom and Beyond
Every child deserves the chance to learn, grow, and cultivate healthy relationships with others. But racial discrimination and systemic inequities continue to disrupt our most precious mission to help students thrive. School leaders stand on the frontlines of bridging opportunity gaps for students whose station in life prevents them from their greatest successes.
When you’re deep in the trenches of creating positive impacts for teachers and students, it’s difficult to see where organizational structures fall short in the equity mission. Insight Education Group prides itself on partnering with administrators who work tirelessly to ensure every student gains access to an education that provides a springboard for a future with less hardship.
When we work together to achieve true equity and create a more perfect school system, we’ll dive deep into the data, pinpoint opportunities for progress, and reveal the obstacles that prevent positive social change. Discover how our partnership:
- Supports your educational organization in the mission to create and sustain racial equity.
- Deepens racial competence for the educators you support.
- Implements practical strategies that enable you to address inequities in the most comprehensive way.
- Enables your teachers to engage in professional development and meaningful personal growth that results in lasting change in each classroom.
- Ensures all stakeholders understand the devastating ramifications of racial injustice.
- Establishes anti-racism policies that make a transformational impact in the classroom and on the district level.