The mission of REAL is to support and strengthen our school community by working to develop an intentionally anti-racist culture.
The overarching goals of REAL are to promote learning and dialogue within the Northampton public school community about the origins and functioning of systemic racism; center the voices and experiences of BIPOC across district and school interactions, curriculum, and activities; and build the relationships and understanding needed to work together to interrupt and dismantle racism in our society and our schools.
Members of REAL include teachers, staff, students, and family members across the district who are invited to meet at a member’s home for an hour and a half twice a month. Participation is flexible; some members haven’t been to a meeting, while others are regular attendees.
The work of REAL began in 2017 thanks to generous funding from the Northampton Education Foundation. Since then, we have focused on…
- Collecting stories from folks in the district, including REAL members, about experiences of race and racism in the Northampton public schools. Sharing our experiences helps us understand each other and the landscape. It clues us into the work that is needed to create a school district that is anti-racist in practice and has genuine acceptance, respect, and love for all people as a recognizable part of its identity.
- Cultivating relationships with the Students of Color Alliance at the middle school and high school and with the NHS Student Union. The JFK SOCA has been a primary collaborator in our story collection effort.
- Collaborating with Joseph Krupczynski, an architect and designer with expertise in public exhibition/installations that inspire community conversations around identity. Joseph worked with REAL and SOCA to build a digital exhibition drawing from the stories we have collected, with the intention to help guide school community conversations about race and racism.
- Consulting on the district’s new code of conduct, particularly on the potential adoption of a restorative justice approach to resolving conflict in our schools
- With assistance from NPS supporters both inside and outside our district, putting together a directory to support NPS families in accessing what they need during the pandemic and beyond
- Advocating to end discriminatory high-stakes testing/MCAS, with its disproportionate impact on BIPOC students, ELL students, students with disabilities, and students from poor and working class families
- Building and working as part of a coalition that advocated for the passage of a resolution by the School Committee banning school resource officers (SROs) in Northampton public schools
- Consulting on a grant that resulted in the acquisition of a number of diverse books for our district’s K–5 libraries