LEWISTON, Maine — Maine teachers are taking a significant step toward addressing what they’ve identified as a system of racial bias embedded in their classrooms.
Roughly 50 teachers, school social workers, librarians and other educators in the inaugural Maine Collective of Radical Educators, or MaineCORE, have teamed up to promote equity, anti-discrimination and restorative justice.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re doing this work in a silo of your own classroom, school or social work office,” said Julia Hazel, a grade-school teacher at Rowe Elementary in Portland, who organized the group with fellow educator Rose Gruszecki of the Washington County-based migrant education group Mano e Mano.
Relying on principles they learned firsthand from the New York Collective of Radical Educators, the goal is to discuss ways to eliminate bias, uncover the limitations of conventions such as standardized testing and close achievement gaps between white and nonwhite students.
Over an afternoon potluck, the network of teachers got to know each other, compared notes and set goals.
Hazel said the term “radical” implies getting to the root of the issue, and that the New York CORE educators helped her understand “the bigger-picture structures of how public education works.” The educators are at ground zero for how to implement anti-oppression and justice principles that benefit society as a whole.