On November 13th, 2019, we started Season 5 of this podcast.  Our definition of “season” has pretty much always just meant as many episodes as we can make before we need a break, and we haven’t really taken a break since last November.  This episode, the 23rd of the season is admittedly a bit of self-referential navel gazing, but I wanted to take just a bit of your time to wrap up the season before we, finally, take a break.  

It is an all-volunteer team that helps put these episodes together. From Molly, who makes our transcripts, to Courtney Epton, who has done all the visuals to promote these episodes, to Ali, Bridget, Anna, Susan and others, who provide feedback, and help me think through these topics, this podcast wouldn’t be what it is without the entire team.  And that team deserves a break.  

If you are able, we’d be eternally grateful for your financial support, by joining our Patreon, or going to the Integrated Schools website and clicking “donate.”

While we’re away, please check out past episodes, if you haven’t yet, and stay in touch on social media or by sending us an email.  

And please, VOTE!!  

LINKS

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Join our Patreon to support this work, and connect with us and other listeners to discuss these issues even further.

Let us know what you think of this episode, suggest future topics, or share your story with us – @integratedschls on twitter, IntegratedSchools on Facebook, or email us [email protected].

The Integrated Schools Podcast was created by Courtney Mykytyn and Andrew Lefkowits.

This episode was produced by Andrew Lefkowits.

Audio editing and mixing by Andrew Lefkowits.

Music by Kevin Casey.

 

Transcript

Andrew: Welcome to the Integrated Schools Podcast. I'm Andrew, a White dad from Denver, and this is “Saying Goodbye to Season 5”. I hope you’ll forgive a bit of self-referential navel-gazing.  If you've been listening from the beginning of this podcast, you'll know that we've taken a pretty loose definition to our seasons. 

We launched the show back in November of 2018 with three episodes. An introduction, a conversation with a family who had chosen an integrating school for their kids, and an interview with Margaret Hagerman, author of White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and after nine episodes, including conversations about sacrificing your kid on the altar of social justice, being the only one, and speaking with integration skeptic Chris Stewart, we were exhausted, so we decided to take a break. 

About six weeks later, we returned to start season 2. We talked about why our choice matters, how to take back the playground. We talked to Dr. Elizabeth McRae about White women and the politics of White supremacy. We talked to David Kirkland, we talked about dual language, and gifted and talented, and public schools and private money. And after eight more episodes, we, again, were in need of a break.  

We came back with season 3, a six-part series commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision called “The Stories We Tell Ourselves”. It featured scholars and parents, and it was a reflection on what the legacy of Brown means in this current context.  

Over the summer of 2019, we dropped in with a few bonus episodes, but mostly we were focused on our first narrative series, “Between We and They”. It was a five-part story of one family's choice about where to send their kids to school and the impact that had both on their family and their community. That was season 4. 

And then all the way back in November of 2019, we kicked off season 5. We talked about gentrification, helicopter parenting, faith and family, and the idea of building a movement of 3.5% of White and/or privileged families willing to take a new approach to school integration. 

And then, on December 30th, tragedy struck. 

My friend, my co-host, and the Integrated Schools founder, Courtney, was struck by a car and killed.  And to be honest, I wasn't sure how we were going to move forward. But the Integrated Schools family joined together, and with Courtney's vision guiding us, persevered. I had two interviews that Courtney and I had recorded that we hadn't yet released, and so we started there to keep season 5 going. 

We talked about reparations and school ratings. And then, Ali from Seattle co-hosted with me for an interview with Matt Barnum from Chalkbeat. It was the first interview I had done without Courtney and, with Ali's help, I saw the possibility of continuing - of moving this podcast forward. 

I talked to a couple of moms about how to think about choosing a school informed by our values, our privilege and our responsibility, and that episode, the ninth of season 5 was released on March 18th, just a few days into the lockdowns from COVID. 

We had planned to take a break and end season five mid-spring, but COVID brought up so many questions and issues that we felt we had to address them. 

I was joined by Anna, from LA as a co-host for a great conversation with Garrett Bucks, about how we work to build community, and what lessons we want our kids to learn while being so isolated. We talked to a couple of teachers about teaching remotely. We talked to Matt Gonzales about equity in the midst of COVID and Dr. Jennifer Harvey about building healthy White identity for our kids. 

And again, it seemed that it might be time to end season 5.  And then George Floyd was murdered and the country entered a new chapter in the story we tell ourselves about race. We saw a huge surge of interest at Integrated Schools and felt compelled to keep having conversations and keep sharing them. 

We shared the keynote from the National Coalition on School Diversity virtual conference. We talked to high school student activists from New York City. We revisited our conversation about the Milliken v. Bradley case with Michelle Adams. And all of a sudden it was time to start talking about going back to school, struggling with pandemic pods and equity. And so, we talked to Dr. Shayla Griffin and JPB Gerald

Since before season 5 began, we had been discussing a collaboration with Max and Mark from the School Colors Podcast, and we were finally able to put that together. And we got to hear the brilliance of Angela Glover Blackwell, and well, there's no way to take a break when you get the opportunity to interview a congressman. So, we did the Representative Bobby Scott episode. 

And finally, Molly co-hosted with me for a conversation about family and community engagement and how we can do that better with Dr. Ann Ishimaru

And while I'm sure there are things on the horizon that could feel like tectonic shifts, and while I'm sure they will impact anti-racist school integration, we think it's finally - after 22 episodes - time to end season 5 and take a little break. 

Many are surprised to learn that this is all volunteer work.  From the interviewing and the editing to the transcript and the promotion, it is quite a lot of work. So, we're going to take a break for a bit. 

We'll likely drop a bonus episode or two along the way, and we'll be working on new episodes for season 6, talking about middle school, getting back to some parent conversations, and I'm sure the world will have shifted again in ways we can't expect, and that we'll want to talk about. 

But for now. It's time to say goodbye to season 5. 

You know, if I'm being honest, I, I think one reason season 5 is still going, is that it feels a bit like a lifeline to the past. When the season started, Courtney was alive, COVID hadn't begun. The world felt a bit more stable, a bit more predictable, and letting go of that lifeline is a bit scary. 

But it's time. We'll rest, we'll rejuvenate. And we'll come back soon. 

But before we leave, uh, I know you don't come here for political punditry, but I would be remiss if I didn't use this small platform that I have to encourage you to vote. Please make a plan. Do it early and be certain that your voice is heard. 

I would also be remiss if I didn't thank a few people. The Integrated Schools team who have all stepped up to help with the podcast, helping me think through topics, providing feedback on episodes and assisting with artwork, promotion, transcripts. It's been invaluable. 

Additionally, the leadership team that has stepped up to guide Integrated Schools in Courtney's absence has inspired me deeply. Ali, Molly, Bridget, Anna, and Stephan, whose wisdom and guidance has both pushed and pulled us out of the darkness. This team has leaned into Courtney's vision and grown this organization in ways that she could have only dreamed. 

You know, Courtney believed that to live into the promise of becoming a true multi-racial democracy, requires a cultural shift and a movement of White and/or privileged parents who have done the work to examine ourselves, who have found our shared humanity, and then, lent our voices to a call for justice. 

Her dream was to build that movement, and that work is happening every day. We now have 29 local chapters around the country. Our Facebook community has grown to over 1700 people and continues to be an inspiring refuge on the internet of kind, compassionate conversation, where people are heard, giving grace, and encouraged to grow. 

Our quarterly book clubs have seen record attendance, providing space to build community and reflect. We just announced our next book club, An Indigenous People's History of the United States for Young People, and that will be happening at the beginning of December. So be sure to check the website for details. 

And all of this work continues to be driven by the volunteer labor of a beautiful collection of committed people from around the country. That said this work is not without costs. And we're incredibly grateful to everyone who supports our work through one time or recurring donations. So, as we close out this season of 22 episodes of conversations that you have hopefully found helpful, we'd like to ask for your support. 

I know that this ask sometimes comes at the end of an episode, as a bit of a throwaway and, in part, it is because I'm much more comfortable discussing school integration then asking for support. But I know from your emails, from your tweets, from your Facebook messages, that many of you find these conversations useful. And many of you have already stepped up to support this work by joining our Patreon, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. 

However, our best estimate is that maybe 1% of our regular listeners have done that. So, if you find value in these conversations, if they've pushed your thinking, if they've helped you make a different choice for your kids, if they've clarified something you felt funny about, but couldn't quite articulate, please consider supporting this work. 

Sharing it with your friends, leaving a rating or review are great ways to help spread the word. And financial support allows us to continue to grow and build this movement. So, if you're able, you'll have our eternal gratitude. Patreon.com/integratedschools

If you have ideas for what should cover in season 6, or just thoughts you'd like to share, reach out to [email protected], or hit us up on social media @integratedschools. 

Back in November of 2018, I could have never imagined where this podcast would take me. Putting together this podcast is simultaneously terrifying and gratifying. I know that every episode is likely to feel problematic somehow down the road. I know that this is a journey and that I continue to have so much to learn. And I'm also deeply humbled by those who, who helped me on that journey. 

From parents willing to share their stories, their fears, their hopes, to experts, willing to share their work, to a sitting Congressman. I, I don't take that privilege for granted. And I try every episode to honor that, and share it with you all. And so, my final thanks, as we say goodbye to season 5, is to all of you listeners. 

In these tumultuous times, knowing that you're out there willing to join us in conversation, willing to challenge notions of good and bad schools, of what it means to be a good parent, and willing to think about what the future might hold if we can do school integration in a better way, is what keeps me going. 

So. Thank you. It is truly an honor to be in this with you, as I try to know better, and do better. Now, go vote!

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