When one thinks of the word Conspiracy, without a doubt thoughts of evil plots and schemes easily come to mind. History is replete with examples of conspiracies designed to pervert justice, overthrow governments, and manipulate truth. Conspiracy, from the Latin word “conspirare” meaning “to agree to plot.” On the other hand, the word Care has an opposite effect when it is mentioned. Care, or “the provision of what is necessary for someone’s health, welfare, and protection” evokes feelings of concern and compassion.
I have been an educator for nearly five decades. Over the last decade I have devoted my energies to an organization that is dedicated to the affirmative social, emotional, cultural, and academic development of boys and young men of color. This organization is the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color or affectionately known as COSEBOC. In my ten-year tenure as the founding Executive Director, I have witnessed situations where the full academic potential of boys and young men of color has been systemically diminished by policies, procedures, and practices that are not culturally sensitive or responsive. In other words, there are too many situations that seem to conspire to limit the innovative and creative talents of boys and young men of color.
On the other hand I am privileged to have witnessed firsthand, many programs, schools, and districts that have successfully changed the narrative for boys and young men of color. These are places were Care prevails. Schools such as Urban Prep in Chicago, Eagle Academy in New York, Boys Latin in Philadelphia, or Fenway High School in Boston intentionally combine personalization with high expectations and rigor for all students. These schools are determined to see every student reach their highest potential. They understand the necessity of mobilizing all stakeholders in the service of students. They understand that a synergy must exist between their schools and the surrounding communities.
The act of mobilizing a serious Conspiracy of Care will require leaders who recognize and understand the true significance of the “Whole Village” participation. Leaders who are of the transformational type realize that within the Village reside many individuals who possess skills, talents, and knowledge that can be channeled in support of all learners. This pool of community talent is what I affectionately term, the Community Faculty. The Community Faculty members can be found throughout the Village. They are the school crossing guards, the local store owner, barber, plumber, bus driver, and many others who daily share their wisdom and guidance with children and youth.
Imagine the impact that can be made when this talent pool is organized, connected, and inspired to serve the best interest and well-being of every student—particularly those who live in marginalized and under-resourced communities. The Conspiracy of Care can serve as the organizing framework as the Village prepares to raise their children. I suggest to readers of this blog that it is time to mobilize and conspire to care. It’s time to intentionally agree to plot to provide for the compassion care essential to the affirmative, social, emotional, cultural and academic for every student and especially those traditionally undervalued, underestimated, and marginalized.