SSW Fighting Oppression: SSWN Open Access 2020
Editor’s Note: In this SSWN Open Access 2020 series, we’re sharing the articles from the just-published open-access International Journal of School Social Work (published by SSWAA & where I serve as editor-in-chief) with SSWN readers and to invite authors and practitioners to interact with this original research here and over at our SSWNetwork platform. The second article is about what school social workers (SSW) can do to become leaders in their schools in fighting structural racism. In this paper, Dr. Ashley-Marie Hanna Daftary analyzes 11 interviews with educators (including but not limited to SSW) about how they can do this, and writes in her paper:
School social workers are often asked to wear many “hats” on any given day based on a school’s needs as well as the larger sociocultural context of the world (Kelly & Stone, 2009). Unfortunately, one of those “hats” often does not include leadership responsibilities (Allen-Meares, 1994; Kelly & Stone, 2009). For this reason, the first theme’s urging of social workers to take leadership roles around social justice and equity work is most arresting. Given the gap in current teacher trainings and the unique expertise school social workers have related to social justice work, it is imperative that school social workers begin to take on leadership roles, including leading equity teams and participating in the daily functioning schools (e.g., teacher team meetings, SPED meetings, discipline policies and practices, family meetings, etc.). In order to do this, school social workers must simultaneously increase their knowledge base and understanding of systems, policies, and practices in the K-12 education system that negatively impact students from historically marginalized communities.
She extends her comments further, when I asked her to talk about what she studies and why it matters, and then to offer one take-away that she hopes SSW glean from her work:
My research focuses on structural inequities and anti-oppressive practices across systems, including immigration, education, and policy-making. As social workers, we are called to promote social justice. Indeed, this is what sets us apart from other helping professions. This call should be central to all that we do. In order to engage in anti-oppressive practice, we must see the connection between the various systems that impact our students (e.g., education, immigration, child welfare, etc.) and actively engage in changing oppressive practices and policies across systems. I hope that SSW see in my research that In order to be effective and ethical school social workers, we must be anti-oppressive in our interactions and interventions, and simultaneously ensure that the policies and practices that guide our work (and the school we work in) are anti-oppressive. There is much work to be done!
Please join the conversation over at SSWNetwork about Dr. Daftary’s article and share how you’ve been able to engage in leadership activities to address structural racism this year.Prioritizing-School-Social-Workers-Responsibilities-to-Combat-Oppression-1