The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was horrific. As a police officer kneeled on his neck, Mr. Floyd’s final words were “I can’t breathe.” We at Public Education Partners are heartbroken and outraged by his death and our thoughts are with his family and black citizens as we grieve yet another life taken senselessly through violence. While we mourn, we are reminded that there remains before us so much work to do. White supremacy is an intractable foe, upheld by centuries-old systems designed to advantage one group of people over all others. And it touches Public Education Partners’ work every day.
We know that racial bias and inequity do not stop at the schoolhouse door. Consider that across the country black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended from school as white students; that 80% of America’s teachers are white, yet research has shown that some non-black teachers were found to have lower expectations for their black students than black teachers; or that our nation’s schools are increasingly racially segregated due, in part, to growing housing and economic inequality.If we mean for our public schools to be “the great equalizer” we aspire for them to be, we cannot turn away from these and other data that tell us, unequivocally, that we are leaving black students behind. Nor can public schools solve or respond to systemic racism alone: this is, and has always been, a pervasive problem that requires a collective and intentional response.
As an organization, Public Education Partners is recommitting itself to the work of ensuring that black children thrive in our public schools and examining the ways we can – and must – do better. To Greenville’s black students, teachers, and families: you matter and we stand with you.