The pandemic has dramatically changed how schools operate and renewed debates over what schools should do. While many teachers have gone to extraordinary lengths to engage students in remote instruction, the difficulty of the entire enterprise has laid bare the structural inequalities that define our educational system. Since then, corporate reformers and philanthropists have formed partnerships with different cities and states to "reimagine education." Yet often the "reimagining" was anything but imaginative. Instead, many have sought to use the current crises to further privatize education, minimize teachers’ autonomy in the classroom, and promote full-time computer based learning.
At the Center, we started discussing how the past might inform genuine efforts to reimagine education. Who has offered alternative visions for education? What have they imagined? What would their ideas look like now? These conversations became even more pressing as law enforcement officers throughout the country continued to murder unarmed Black people with impunity. These murders remind us of the past activists who have challenged this historical violence and the society that allowed it to flourish. This moment also recalls their sweeping ideas for social transformation, including how they reimagined education. Today's new waves of grassroots organizing and sustained protest have drawn from this rich tradition of resistance to move radical ideas for change closer to the mainstream. For this reason, we return to those reimaginers who pushed the traditional boundaries of schooling to ask: how can transformative educational visions from the past help us truly reimagine schools?
Our limited web series, The Reimaginers: Education Activists and Promises of Change, explores this question through the activist efforts of Black, Latinx, and otherwise marginalized groups who theorized and enacted creative educational change. From the pedagogy of the Black Panthers' Oakland Community School to the Young Lords' community education programs to the inclusionary and liberatory visions of activists with disabilities, we explore these histories and their resonance in the present. Please check out our episodes below.