Congratulations on your nomination to be U.S. education secretary, Miguel Cardona. You are poised to take this position at a critical point in American history. As you know well, for generations we have lived through a system of separate and unequal education. COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated the learning loss disparities experienced by children of color. Now, with Congress failing to deliver to schools, educators, students and parents the much needed learning and PPE resources, and states cutting their 2021 budgets, things are primed to get a lot worse.
As the year ends, we are looking back at the many challenges and the fierce organizing — and equally fierce love — that our partners brought to meet them.
The story of America is the power of common people coming together around a vision of opportunity, democracy, and a better way of life for generations to come. However, from our earliest beginnings, that vision was executed with instruments of brutal and legalized oppression, heavily fueled by racial bias, which for centuries has metastasized through every system of American life: healthcare, education, employment, policing, faith, technology, and infrastructure.
A coalition of grassroots advocacy groups, including Girls for Gender Equity and the Urban Youth Collaborative, are pressing the New York State Education Department to issue statewide guidance for a moratorium on suspensions for the remainder of the school year.
It’s that time of the year again... the Schott Foundation’s third annual list of 10 Education Justice Superstars to follow on social media! Spice up your feed with knowledge and inspiration from these influential and energized advocates. They’re leading the way, pushing racial and gender equity, fair funding, community schools, grassroots organizing and other crucial issues to the fore. Be sure to give them a follow!
The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J), a grassroots education justice organization with dozens of local chapters across the country, highlighted candidate Joe Biden’s pledge to be “the best friend of public education” as they urged the President-Elect to choose a Secretary of Education committed to education justice. J4J’s open letter emphasizes the importance of the moment to undo the damage caused by years of disinvestment and privatization and to enact a positive vision of equity and education justice. Like J4J, Schott has been clear that the next Department of Education should center community voices and work to undo the effects of resource inequity and structural racism on our public education system.
The Schott Foundation applauds President-elect Biden's selection of Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond to lead the Department of Education transition team. Dr. Darling-Hammond is a highly-qualified leader who has a proven track record of success working with public schools, parents, educators and youth to provide all students a high quality education. As a professor at Stanford, founder of the Learning Policy Institute, and president of the California State Board of Education, her work has always been informed by a passion to tackle the root causes of racial and class inequities in public education.
While the sacred obligation of democracy must be honored by counting every last ballot, it’s clear that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris have won the presidential election. The results this year are historic: the first woman Vice President, the daughter of African American and Asian immigrants, and the highest voter turnout in our nation’s history.
The urgency of the moment cannot be overstated. The challenges facing the new administration are monumental. More than 200,000 Americans — disproportionately Black and Latinx — have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This public health disaster has shuttered businesses, schools, and places of worship while draining the coffers of the very state and local agencies on the front lines combating it. The open wound of racist police violence demands a proper reckoning. The impact of these and other tragedies was needlessly magnified by the failures of the federal executive branch.
Education justice is on the ballot this election. Over the past several months, Schott’s grantee partners have been working closely with their communities to mobilize and get out the vote—early and on November 3.
During this national moment of affirming that Black Lives Matter, we must acknowledge that our methods of ensuring Black children have a fair opportunity to learn have been ineffective. While we are at a critical moment of assessing and addressing the universal harms of systemic racism, we cannot leave out the impact of racism on learning outcomes for Black students. If our desire to liberate US policies and practices from systemic racism is sincere, we must also liberate our systems of learning.
When Black Americans were brought to the United States as slaves, education was discouraged. Black people were forbidden from learning to read or write, and a slave who could do so was subject to severe punishment or death. When Black people were eventually formally permitted to go to school, those schools were separated by race and remained unequal. Even decades after 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that Black and white children were legally allowed to go to school together, the tax bases of wealthier communities and discriminatory policies like redlining meant Black children were still largely relegated to schools that, once again, were separate and unequal.
Like what you've read?
Then don't miss a thing. Join the thousands of students, parents, educators, and activists who already receive our latest updates and resources!