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Aminah Raysor, Stephanie Flores-Koulish, Ph.D.

Reparations In Education: The RIE Collective

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For my capstone project, I wrote a grant for a professional development curriculum for Black educators working in Howard County. The curriculum in anchored in the formation of a collective entitled, Reparations in Education (RIE).

How the Program was Developed: Howard County Maryland is known for making the Forbes list for best public schools, for receiving top rankings in national report cards, and as being one of the top ten best places to live in the entire country. It is home to Columbia, James Rouse’s planned community, which many describe as a nearly perfect society which welcomes residents from all walks of life. However, this wasn’t exactly the original plan for Rouse.

“Shangri-La” was the Rouse Company’s aspirational code name for the Howard County project, but Rouse didn’t exactly promise a utopia or perfect city and few would suggest Columbia is either. (Managing economic diversity, one of Rouse’s goals, for example, has been a struggle in several villages of the city, where the median home price today tops $300,000.) But rather he said he was trying to develop an alternative to “the mindlessness, the irrationality, the unnecessity of sprawl and clutter as a way of accommodating the growth of the American city (“City of Hope,”2021).

Only a few years ago, Howard County had quite the opposite reputation and was famous for its lack of diversity. “Remember not just how different Howard County was in 1966—considered one of the worst counties in Maryland” (“City of Hope,”2021). Howard County has only recently become somewhat accepting of racial diversity.

Unfortunately, the educators employed to teach this culturally diverse population are a poor reflection of this mix. Howard County has a long history of upholding white supremacist values, tolerating racism, and encouraging segregation. In one of the many letters written to the superintendent addressing racism in the Howard County public school system, a group of former students created a list of demands for HCPSS. Racial bias, most notably in the hiring process, was at the top of the list.

Summary of project: RIE collective is a “Healing Justice Practice Space (HJPS)” (Brown, 2015) for teachers working in HCPSS who are the descendants of enslaved Africans in America. Healing justice work has historically been led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (Brown, 2015). RIE curriculum is grounded in three central tenets: History, Identity, and Agency. Our goal is to positively transform the narrative and environment for Black teachers in Howard County public schools.

Timeline: The curriculum will create deadlines and schedule exact meeting dates according to member availability, but will end on Juneteenth. The initial presentation to the school community and recruitment process will take place no longer than one month after approval. RIE will meet once a month for 6 months. Meeting duration will be 1 1/2 hours. We will inform teachers’ unions, office of Diversity and Inclusion, and county Black student liaisons of our presentations.

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