Planning—What You Probably Had in Mind

Now, if you arrived at this chapter looking for a clearly defined strategic guide on planning for crisis, then you more than likely did not think about planning to deepen care and planning to learn place. Instead, and more conventionally, you were looking for a series of questions that, optimally combined, yielded the lowest level of risks for your teaching and learning community in the face of crises. The problem of starting with conventional strategic questioning, without laying the requisite abolitionist framework, is that crises, because they are unplanned and unexpected, have the tendency to cause school leaders to overprivilege strategic playbooks versus critical place-based analysis. In times of crises, particularly crises which threaten the stability and reputational well-being of our teaching and learning community, our impulse is often to begin solving short-term problems. When financial and operational survival is at risk, this approach is often deemed justified by external stakeholders, teachers, and staff, because individual consciousness arouses self-survival. It is, however, clear that an abolitionist approach is less concerned with short-term problem-solving, and more concerned with long-term thinking that pursues freedom for all oppressed folx within the community. In fact, short-term problem-solving is a symptom of hegemonic white supremacy, because it shifts our communal attention away from the work of sustainable abolition. That said, teaching and learning communities should engage in conventional strategic planning by asking critical operational and financial questions.

As an abolitionist community, every conventional strategic question put through the strategic planning inquiry-cycle, regardless of how pragmatic, should end with one of the following statements—of/for the oppressed identities in our community, of/for the subjugated and marginalized folx in our community, of/for the Black folx in our community, of/for income insecure folx in the community, and any other identitycentered closing. This is an exercise I call oppression testing. In oppression testing, every response to every strategic question is probed through the lens of oppression. The purpose of oppression testing is not to prove that the teaching and learning community is abolitionist, but, reversely, to demonstrate where the oppression within your systems, structures, and plans is pronounced. Maintaining a communal consciousness in times of crises requires us to oppression test all strategic questions not based on how it impacts an individual, but how it impacts a group of individuals and/or the entire community. It should be noted that oppression testing is not intended to be a practice of "othering," meaning it is not about treating oppressed folx as inferior, or as subgroups in the planning process; instead, oppression testing is about ensuring that every strategic plan is abolitionist in its approach by accounting for and responding to the sociopolitical, sociocultural, socioeconomic, socioemotional, and socioenvironmental needs within the teaching and learning community.

 
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