Posted 2020-06-26

An Important Message

In this past week four members of our Board of Directors have stepped down. The organization has come to the important conclusion that our focus must change significantly in order to fulfill our mission of being in alliance with all of the people working to dismantle oppressive systems.

This began with Akilah S. Richards and Maleka Diggs stepping down from the board to focus their energy on spaces where their work and experiences are more fully seen and supported. Their departure has made it clear that ASDE has significant work to do in order to fulfill our mission of alliance-building across the Self-Directed Education (SDE) movement, and that deschooling work around white supremacy must be a focus for this organization.

The conversation that ensued left the organization in disagreement on how to move forward. As an alliance, we have been striving to form an organization that is a place for all people within the SDE movement to come together and share ideas, resources, and activism. To those of us who remain, it has become clear that we have not done the work necessary to address systemic racism within both the organization and the movement as a whole. Therefore, we have not been a safe, supportive, and liberation-minded space for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and other marginalized people. Due to the disagreement on how to move forward, two more of our board members have gone their separate ways to work within this movement in ways that fit their vision.

This includes Peter Gray, who stepped down from the board as it became clear to him that it was time to move on and shift the leadership of this organization to new voices. He will be focusing on his writing and research that has taken a back burner to the Alliance for the past several years.

Kevin Currie-Knight has also stepped down to continue his research and work as Assistant Teaching Professor at East Carolina University.

Akilah, Maleka, Peter, and Kevin have all indicated a desire to continue working with the Alliance on the various projects and initiatives they have been a part of thus far, and we look forward to their continued contributions to the extent that they align with the renewed clarity this organization will be carrying forward.

We have lost a big part of our team, due to our mistakes and inability to recognize and confront the systemic racism within our organization, and due to disagreements on how that was showing up. Those of us who are still here stayed in order to shift the mission and practice of our organization into one that fully recognizes the need to address the systemic racism and pervasive whiteness that shows up in our organization, in conventional schools, and in some forms of Self-Directed Education.

We fully recognize and take responsibility for our mistakes and are prepared to move forward in new ways. Self-Directed Education is about trust, sovereignty, and liberation. We cannot acknowledge the issues with the school system without acknowledging the foundation of white colonialism from which it was created and the systemic racism that pervades it. We cannot speak of Self-Directed Education without acknowledging that the roots of its practice are indigenous. Self-Directed Education and racial equity are directly related, and it is past time for us to acknowledge and focus on the ways in which pervasive whiteness and systemic racism are barriers to the success of our movement.

We will be rebuilding, changing, and committing to our own deschooling in service of this movement and the liberation of all people. Our plans are in process and evolving, and we will share more about the specifics of our work as they unfold. However, our commitments now are 1) to build a board and team consisting of folks who can support the organization as we engage in deep antiracism work, and who are prepared to do that work themselves, and 2) to work within our team to identify the many ways systemic racism is showing up within our organization, and to make plans for how to address each of these areas. This can and does encompass many areas of the organization, including our own personal attitudes, our partnerships with other organizations, our organization-wide messaging, our offerings, and our representation, to name a few.

We are excited and passionate about doing this work, and know that as we engage in this we will become a stronger, better, more just Alliance that is working towards the liberation of all people.

Sincerely,

Bria Bloom, Stephen Dill, Pat Farenga, September James, Karl Keefer, Alex Khost, and Tomis Parker

-The ASDE Organizing Team