Philly school board votes unanimously to endorse Black Lives Matter week

Protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Bristol, U.K., in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Photo credit PA Images/Sipa USA
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The idea of a Black Lives Matter Week at school began with the efforts of activist teachers in Philadelphia three years ago. Now it has the endorsement of the Philadelphia Board of Education.

There was a range of discussion about whether the resolution supporting Black Lives Matter at School Week during the first week of February each year went far enough to address matters of racial equity in schools. 

Board Member Ameen Akbar said efforts to combat racism could continue beyond a single resolution.

“We want to make it longer. But this, to me, is the acknowledgment of it, that it’s super important, and Black — and race — being at the center of it to start the conversation,” Akbar said.

Board Member Maria McColgan moved to table the matter, but her motion had no support.    

“I have questions about — do we have principal and teacher input?” McColgan asked. “What impact is this resolution going to have on curriculum?”

McColgan ultimately supported the idea. 

Board Member Mallory Fix Lopez said the school board should have taken a stand earlier.

“I think we had a huge miss on this last year,” she said.

Superintendent William Hite backed the concept, noting the district was already rewriting its curriculum to be more culturally sensitive.

“The district came out early in support of this week, because we think it matches what we’re trying to do with our overall curriculum,” Hite said.

“I do agree that we have to think about this work as more significant than one week out of the year.”

The measure was approved by an 8-0 vote.

The board called the resolution a first step, saying it planned to set goals and monitor progress toward dismantling racist practices in the education system.​