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Contact: Celia Gottlieb/ email@example.com / 845-219-0381
Next Step Hudson Valley: March for Education in support of Culturally Responsive Education
(Newburgh, NY) This Saturday, Next Step Hudson Valley (@nextstephudsonvalley) and Melanin Unchained (@melanin_unchained) took to the streets of Newburgh in support of the Culturally Responsive Sustaining (CR-S) Education Framework. They called on local school leaders to take the initiative of implementing culturally responsive practices in their districts and for New York State legislators to make amendments to legislation (A03648/S02937) by allocating more funds and resources to pursuing equitable education for all.
The Culturally Responsive Sustaining (CR-S) Education Framework was produced by the New York State Department of Education in 2018 at the direction of the New York State Board of Regents. Since its development, legislation has halted in committee, never adjoining its findings with NYS education standards and curriculum.
“A framework gives our schools something to work with, but it’s minimal, and it doesn’t mean schools are utilizing it,” notes Celia Gottlieb, Next Step’s Education Policy Advisor. “When there is no funding to teach our school administrators, teachers, and staff about new initiatives, they tend to fail. To have an effective implementation, our schools—which are already overburdened and underfunded—desperately need monetary resources, community investment, and state-led guidance.”
New York City schools are already operating under a Culturally Responsive Education (CR-SE) approach. When all of our students return to the classroom post-COVID, they will be behind on their studies. Next Step cautions that if schools across the Hudson Valley and New York State can’t make strides toward culturally responsive practices, students are only going to fall further behind.
“Having an educational framework with common principles focused on equity is the equivalent of having the four corners of a puzzle in place,” notes Founder and Creative Director of Next Step, Ali T. Muhammad. “It’s a good start—they’re [elected and appointed officials] listening to the demands of New Yorkers seeking racial and social justice by issuing this framework, but it needs to go steps further. For many of us, this begins in the classrooms— with the utilization of diverse and intersectional concepts that allow students to honestly explore who they are. One of our demands is to know what the next steps are in regard to (CR-SE) curriculum and implementation, and how we can help our communities in their realization.”
Next Step Hudson Valley is motivated by the urgent need to create, support, and fund a quality, well-rounded education for all students. They are mobilizing the power of students, parents, and community members to affect policy change in support of equitable education practices on both the state and local levels.
“It’s about reimagining how we approach teaching and the reconstruction of these modalities in favor of equity and inclusion,” says Gottlieb.
The March for Education concluded at the Newburgh Free Library, where organizers shared testimonials and advocated for more inclusive schools. They emphasized the need for participants to hold their schools accountable and contact their state representatives in support of culturally responsive education. Muhammad ushered participants to approach their school boards and administrators to adopt culturally responsive practices and inclusive policies that improve school climates.
“We were doctors, lawyers, musicians, artists, writers, and so much more,” Ahmad Free-Cohen Next Step’s March General voiced. “There needs to be a curriculum that identifies with the students we teach. As an educator, I hope to see an inclusive curriculum for all students, regardless of their background. The time is now.”
To learn more about the Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education framework click here
## About: Next Step Hudson Valley is a BIPOC and women-led organization geared towards advancing equity in New York State Schools with a guiding mission of dismantling systemic racism and discrimination within our communities.