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Spring is typically filled with rites of passage for high school students, from prom, to AP tests, to college acceptances and graduations. But for millions of students this year, all this was put on hold as educators rushed to scale teaching and learning in a remote, online environment amidst a global health crisis. Many schools around the country are grappling with how to locate and engage students who have gone radio silent, while others, like Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, have been laying the groundwork for equitable learning for a while, and are better prepared to navigate the student “visibility” crisis.
Earlier this month, the Kingmakers of Oakland released Kings in the Making, a collaborative album that features the voices of Black boys delivering a message of love and community. It’s an extraordinary use of music and digital tools that centers the perspective of Black male students in the midst of nationwide school closures.
As school districts and teachers across the country grapple with the implications of COVID-19, there is a voice noticeably missing from the conversation: the students. In our experience, their perspective is not just “nice to have.” It is absolutely essential to ensuring that we are, in fact, meeting the academic and emotional needs of our students. If we don’t hear directly from them, how can we know?