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Inside Woodlawn: No Time to Waste

Educators from Portland's Woodlawn Elementary School discuss the Black Lives Matters movement, how the education system can fail teachers of color and more.

Cristin Severance (KGW)

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As the nation grapples with difficult conversations about race, equity and social justice we might all be well served to listen to the teachers at Woodlawn Elementary School.

Teachers at the Northeast Portland elementary school have plenty of experience talking about race. The school sits in a neighborhood that used to be a center of Portland’s Black community, but has gentrified rapidly in recent years, bringing more white families into the school.

KGW spent the entire 2019-2020 school year telling stories and documenting life at the school for a series called Inside Woodlawn.

The series delved into race, gentrification and supporting undocumented students – conversations the teachers at Woodlawn were used to having among themselves and with their students.

“It's very amazing that you all decided to, you know, follow us this year because this is a year that our children will be talking about in history classes,” said first grade teacher Lionel Clegg.

Reporter Cristin Severance and photojournalist Gene Cotton recently sat down with four of the educators featured in Inside Woodlawn to talk about the Black Lives Matters movement, how the education system can sometimes fail teachers of color, recent protests in Portland and how they’ll address this national conversation with their students.

Their conversations are part of a special report: “Inside Woodlawn: No Time to Waste.”