As the nation grapples with the aftermath of the events in Virginia, advocates and educators are condemning the display of racism that gripped Charlottesville and left one woman dead and dozens wounded. Our schools and communities feel the impact when the country is riled by social unrest. The worst behavior from adults always frightens our children. That’s especially true when their skin color and their communities are the targets of hate.
Statements from advocates aim to influence policy and change the course of elections. On Charlottsville, they serve another powerful purpose as well. Educators need a way to show their students that the behavior they saw was not acceptable; that responsible adults across the country value them and are working to keep them safe from hate. Because they are important to our kids, we thought they would be important to you too. We’ve gathered them here.
In a recent post Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, challenges advocates to be “equally outraged when racism is far less blatant and far more potent,” pointing to leaders at every level standing silent as children of color are under-served.
The Rodel Foundation shared milestones throughout our nation’s history—both moments that dismantled inequities and those that perpetuated them—emphasizing that events in Virginia were “the worst symptom of deep, systemic and institutionalized racism.” Their call to action: “understand our history and take a hard look at what each of us can do to confront this collective challenge, whether it be by engaging in a difficult conversation or advocating for policy changes at the state or local levels.”
“What’s happening is not okay today, it wasn’t okay yesterday, and it’s not okay for tomorrow.”
ConnCAN Executive Director Jen Alexander drew from the words of Elie Wiesel: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Alexander went on to say, “Policy choices that continue to prime students of color for failure, whether intentional or accidental, are fundamentally racist and must be corrected.”
Terry Ryan, formerly with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute-Ohio, recalled these words from President Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural address in a recent blog post, “You Must Never Forget What You Saw Here Today.”
“Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.”
EdAllies shared reflections from Minnesota students, educators and advocates, and the Campaign for School Equity urged, “It’s time we have open dialogue about the reality our students of color face everyday.”
National partners have also responded in force. Stand for Children emphasized their commitment to making schools a safe, inclusive place for all students. The Education Trust shed light on the reality of white privilege by digging into the data, and America Succeeds released this statement in a blog post.
President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Greg Richmond, pledged to take an intentional look at broadening the organizations view of school quality to ensure their work is aligned with diversity and inclusion. He shared this in a recent email:
“For those of us who work in education, this was a call to reflect on how well we are living by those values and how well we are passing them along to the next generation.”
Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, penned this in a recent blog post: “Our community has an obligation to directly address the concerns and questions of our students. And we must do that with one strong voice that assures each child, in no uncertain terms, that white supremacy, hate, and violence are wrong and unacceptable.”
The American Federation for Children denounced the violence in Charlottesville and said, “At a time when the nation is divided over so many things, we remain determined to build coalitions…to ensure that every child receives equal access to a high-quality education.”
Please check back for additional reactions or resources from members and partners across the Network.