Adjusting to new social and educational realities
Antwan Jefferson, PhD
It’s been a while.
Since we last published a full issue of this community-based education journal, a global pandemic reached the shores of the US landing as close to home as our families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, strangers. And, the long history of racial terrorism in the US returned to national consciousness after a few decades of being covered over by more pressing political and social agendas. AND an economic crisis showed up with fervor, resulting in more unemployment than was imaginable so soon after the great recession. ANNNNND Colorado and other states in the West have seen large, destructive fires burning hundreds of thousands, even millions, of acres of natural land, buildings, homes.
For our team at DJEC, we’ve taken time to listen, to reflect, to grieve, to hope, to worry and to wonder. We invite you to do any number of these with us as you engage this issue. Here’s one way: imagine being a young child learning about your Self and your society during these times, often called unprecedented. Imagine returning to school, but not actually returning to school, or returning to a school building and learning after a few days that you cannot return to the building for the unforeseen future. Imagine hearing your alarm clock, hopping out of your bed and landing at your desk, or dining table, or a closet so that you can go to school. Sitting across from a parent or guardian who is at work, at a neighboring desk or table. Or near a sibling who also has gone to school, a different school, but in the same place. Now, try to imagine the mental and emotional strains this new reality of school creates. Many of our readers do not have to imagine this–your experiences are what give DJEC purpose (and content).
It has, indeed, been a while. And we have, indeed, missed you.
Since we last published a full issue of the Denver Journal of Education and Community (February seems so long, eons, ago), we have taken a hiatus from full issue publication. New and disorienting stay-at-home orders meant that we were not able to invite you to host conversations in your homes, with your neighbors, to talk about important topics in education. Significant disruptions to our lives meant prioritizing stability, employment, food, sanity, peace, even while things continue(d) to change.
But we weren’t just waiting around. Allan Tellis, our Chief Writer, wrote a series of articles exploring the range of consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the lives of educators, families, city and community leaders, and mental health professionals. On our website, we decided to call this series @Issue, a new feature of DJEC focused on issues that emerge in the Denver region during times when our norms are in flux. I think that you’ll find these articles informative; a bit different from our normal publication, but hopefully inspiring, informative, and compassionate.
Now that we’re back to our community-sourced work (don’t worry, each conversation was virtual or occurred in public parks, with at least the required six-feet of space between us), our team at DJEC hopes that this issue is worth every second that you spend reading (print or digital) about how students, families, educators have shifted to new realities in public schooling. Allan’s writing captures the voices of dozens of students, educators, and families throughout the Denver metro area who talked with each other about this era of change in public schooling. And, as we have done since we started DJEC, community writers respond to Allan’s article, adding their views into the particulars of the main article. We hope that this continues to represent our commitment to the centrality of community voice and the importance of multiple perspectives.
Oh, and we’re working on our next issue, ready in February. We hope that you’ll join us in creating that content, too. On our website, you’ll see that there are opportunities to participate in the dialogues during November and December. If you’re interested, all you have to do is sign up. And if neither of them works for you, or if you want to arrange and host your own, just let us know. In the meantime, happy reading.