F.I.R.E. brings racial equity training statewide


Education Minnesota’s MEA F.I.R.E. program is launching this winter, hoping to build a movement around racial equity in education and disrupt systemic racism in education.

“It’s not about changing curriculum in our classrooms,” said Jen Kohan, Education Minnesota’s education issues specialist who is helping develop the program. “This is about adult-to-adult relationships and developing an anti-racism growth mindset.”

Structural or systemic racism is defined as the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color, according to racialequitytools.org.

F.I.R.E. stands for Facing Inequities and Racism in Education and the program is looking for educators from all backgrounds and in all job categories to participate and be trained as an ambassador, advocate or community storyteller.

Local or regional Racial Equity Advocates (REAs) will be trained to serve members as an ally and resource in developing an anti-racism growth mindset. REAs may be called upon to: Deliver professional development and facilitate community learning experiences related to racial equity; participate in conflict resolution and restorative justice efforts within school and district communities (these efforts may include colleagues, administrators, local leaders, parents, and students); serve as a supportive peer for colleagues who are working to develop an anti-racism growth mindset.

The REA training will begin this spring or summer.

Another way to get involved in the program is to become a community storyteller. Trainings for this group will start in late winter or early spring.

Communities of learners can select from a variety of storytelling approaches, and/or create a tailored plan for engaging stakeholders in conversations about race and equity in education. At each session, facilitators will coach participants through a series of engagement activities in order to support individual and group development.

Education Minnesota is also looking for parents, community members and students to be involved in the process.

“We really want to get to regional issues,” said Kohan. “We’ll bring the training to you.”

She also suggested interested members should visit the Racial Equity Community of Practice and MEA FIRE groups on ConnectED at mynea360.org to learn more.