Wednesday / July 24

Holding America in the Cradle of Justice: Visioning for the Future

 Our hearts ache. In this moment, we are mostly sad, most of the time. 

We know that change is painful. We are going through pain, yet that pain will help us get to the other side. On that other side of pain, we must lead with courage. 

Racism begins at home, where it is taught and learned. We need trauma-informed practices to transform not only schools, but also homes and hearts. 

While we may not all be able to raise our voices against injustice by standing in the street, each of us has a role to play in changing hearts, words, choices, and actions that perpetuate injustice each day. Examining our beliefs and values and how our choices, words, and actions align with them is a first step to taking personal responsibility for our part in upholding or bringing down systemic oppression. After this painful and difficult work, it is time for action towards justice, which we see brave souls taking each day in their efforts to peacefully protest the violence that has cost the lives of too many Black Americans. 

May this be the beginning of a deeper, more relevant, more abiding justice. May justice mean an end to injustice, racism, discrimination, prejudice, and inequity. May we take responsibility for helping others heal from the long-term wounds of injustice. May we realize that we are one people and love each other with a commitment to sharing and caring, with a commitment to stand beside our brothers and sisters, be they Black or White, Hindu or Jew, straight or gay. 

No matter what race, culture, religion, ethnic group, or sexuality, may we be with each other in solidarity. Black lives matter. Police brutality must end. 

We stand with others calling for education for police, for individuals, and for communities. Courageous Conversations are needed as people begin transformative dialogues with a commitment to equity. Listening Conversations must guide us we move beyond our histories, our divisions, and our separations to deep levels of love, compassion and healing.  

True equity goes beyond words or theories to action. For lasting, transformative change, balance must be achieved and sacrifice will be required of some. System changes will be required to more equitably disperse resources, save lives, and demonstrate that we care about each and every human being– each toddler, each child, each teen, and each adult, without exception.  During this time of COVID-19, we have an opportunity in the midst of crisis to reclaim our humanity, to strengthen our planet, and to build resiliency and sustainability through our words and our actions. This will take time, leadership, and a collective will, a collective regard for others. 

We offer the same advice that Maya Angelou gave to Oprah Winfrey: 

The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God — if they call God at all,” she chuckled. “I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think. 

This statement was published by the Center for Educational Improvement on June 9, 2020. 

Join Christine Mason, Paul Liabenow, and Melissa Patschke, authors of Visioning Onward in a 90minute webinar on visioning which will address the future of education in light of the pandemic and racial equity and justice. 

Visioning for the Future of Education:  

Back to School after COVID-19 – Supporting Student and Staff Mental Health 

June 22, 4:00 p.m. EDT. Followed immediately with breakout discussion with the authors at 5:30 p.m. EDT. To register contact

Written by

Christine Mason, Dana Asby, and Ingrid Padgett from the Center for Educational Improvement.

Established in 2010, the Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) has joined with a number of leaders in mindfulness;science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM); neuroscience; and social emotional learning to advance 21st century learning in schools. CEI focuses on innovations, building exemplary schools and principals, conducting professional development, and undertaking research to create exemplary learning environments. Heart Centered Learning® is CEI’s signature approach to social emotional learning. Heart Centered Learning includes five elements (5 Cs) that lead to compassionate action—consciousness,compassion, confidence, courage, and community. Through these 5Cs, students become equipped with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, resolve conflicts nonviolently, think creatively,and overcome obstacles to succeed in the classroom and in life. The visioning that is recommended by CEI builds off of Chris Mason’s (CEI’s executive director) earlier work. From 2011 to 2017, CEI worked with a team of principal leaders to develop our conceptual design for increasing compassion in schools. In 2017, CEI piloted our approach, including an instrument for guiding schools in implementing heart centered visions with schools in Pennsylvania,Massachusetts, and West Virginia. As we worked with these pilot sites, we formalized our process for helping schools implement their visions for 21st century learning in ways that are responsive to the social-emotional needs of students. CEI is currently expanding our efforts to build compassionate schools. Chris is a coauthor of Mindfulness Practices: Cultivating Heart Centered School Communities Where Students Focus and Flourish (Mason, Rivers Murphy, & Jackson, 2018) and Mindful School Communities: The Five Cs of Nurturing Heart Centered Learning (Mason et al., in press), which serve as primers for school leaders to develop mindfulness–compassion protocol. CEI recently conducted a validation study for an instrument we have developed to help cultivate compassionate schools (Mason et al., 2018). The instrument,the School-Compassionate Culture Analytic Tool for Educators(S-CCATE), drives a process for reviewing a school’s strengths and needs to begin to consider a vision for a compassionate school. That process is being used as a part of a project with Yale University’s Program for Recovery and Community Health and its Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative, which Chris is directing.

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