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Tyrone Howard: Educators Need to Provide Radical Care for Students

UCLA Professor of Education Tyrone Howard has published the commentary, “This moment calls for radical care for all of our…

UCLA Professor of Education Tyrone Howard has published the commentary, “This moment calls for radical care for all of our children,” recently in EdSource. In it, the inaugural director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families points out the inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the knowledge that, “… we cannot go back to business as usual” in regard to the reopening of schools.

“Many of our students will need something different, something transformative, something deeply rooted in our commitment to provide students a significantly different type of school environment,” writes Howard. “Radical care is a fundamental belief that students need something different from what schools have typically offered. Many educators offer shallow platitudes about how much they care about students, yet will engage in practices that dehumanize and render them invisible.

“Others educators remain indifferent in the face of policies, attitudes and beliefs that are centered on blaming students and families for the effects of structural racism and generational poverty, which has placed many children and families into some of the most untenable situations.”

Howard describes radical care as acknowledging the resilience and genius that all students possess, particularly those who are living in poverty and experiencing homelessness. He posits that schools need to provide basic services of food, shelter, mental health supports and afterschool care, as well as preparing and equipping teachers to support the psychological, social, and emotional needs that are essential to academic success, in an inclusive and anti-racist environment. Howard also points out that school leaders need to support educators in developing their abilities to respond to students’ trauma, grieving, and other psychological difficulties caused by the pandemic by listening to students about their lives outside of school and exercising empathy.

When school personnel recognize that students possess deep funds of knowledge and a tremendous depth and breadth of cultural wealth then they can learn more about the various forces that shape their lives — including not just the challenges they face, but also their values, interests, ambitions, cultural traditions, family histories, out-of-school learning opportunities and more — they are better able to leverage those resources both in and out of the classroom,” writes Howard.

“Practices and an ethos that are rooted in hope, love and a radical care that sees all students, but in particular our most vulnerable students must be our aim.”

Howard is the founder and director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA, the faculty director of the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools, and a former Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at UCLA Ed & IS. His research examines equity, culture, race, teaching and learning, with more than 75 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports. 

Professor Howard has published several bestselling books, among them, “Why Race & Culture Matters in Schools and Black Male(d): Peril and promise in the education of African American males.” His two most recent books, “All Students Must Thrive: Transforming Schools to Combat Toxic Stressors and Cultivate Critical Wellness,” focuses on equity, race, trauma, and learning has become a must read for all educators, and “No More Teaching Without Positive Relationships,” examines the importance of relational trust between teachers and students to enhance students’ learning.

To read, “This moment calls for radical care for all of our children,” visit the EdSource website.