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Special Newswire – June 8, 2020

A Special – and perhaps most important to date –  Newswire

EDUCATION AS A VEHICLE FOR CHANGE

Dear Friends –

We, too, are saddened and shocked by the murders, the racism, the disrespect, the destruction. As advocates for education opportunity and excellence, we’ve always believed that education — if not “the” — is at least “a” great equalizer.  

We’ve watched and read the many statements that continue to pour out to join with those who hurt, and to take a stand. We’ve contemplated what to do, what to say and didn’t want to just write something to say we did it, especially when so many other voices are more important, and more in need of being heard.

For 26 years CER has pushed the cause of all parents and children who desperately need a chance at a great future to the front of the line — prodding, cajoling, yelling and demanding equal access to opportunities for all that are normally reserved for the affluent.  Life-saving education opportunities help students defy the odds, graduate, go to college, land amazing jobs, and live more fulfilling lives.

As CER Director David Hardy, founder of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia often argues that without such opportunities in his native Philadelphia, most African-American boys are lucky to make it out of high school.

Donald Hense, another CER Director, founded the Friendship Public Charter School network precisely to equalize opportunity and elevate the change of low income students of color and he succeeded.  We learn regularly from Donald, David, Kevin Chavous and hundreds of our friends and mentors who work every day to eradicate racism.  

But this alone has not made our society more inclusive nor made the actions towards minorities live up to the ideals put forth in our founding documents. Our efforts to build a just society must indeed match our efforts to build a country of wealth. Education is not all that is required to ensure every person is treated with dignity. 

As Jessie Woolley-Wilson of Dreambox Learning wrote, “I remain a strong believer that access to a great education for all is a civil right and an essential ingredient to cultivating learning and life success for everyone. Nevertheless, recent events demonstrate that education can only go so far in a society where POC are dehumanized, marginalized and victimized.”

Jessie and thousands like her have shared inspiring thoughts in recent days to spur action. Rather than add to the chorus, we’d prefer to share just a few of those that say it better than we could, and exemplify how we at CER believe we are best able to contribute to the cause of justice.

Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State, professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business:
“Perhaps this is like the moment in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. Or perhaps this is like that fateful Sunday in September 1963, quite personal to me, when a bomb in a Birmingham church killed four girls from my neighborhood and shook our nation to its core. Some six decades later, perhaps all of us — regardless of skin color — are, to quote Mississippi sharecropper and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

“Our country has often moved forward and been made better through peaceful protests. But our cities must stop burning. Innocent people, including many minority and immigrant business owners, are watching their livelihoods go up in smoke. There is no excuse for looting and criminality, and offenders must be stopped. But a call for calm is not enough, either. This time, we must remain vigilant and maintain our determination to make a difference….So I ask my fellow Americans: What will each of you do? My personal passion is educational opportunity, because it is a partial shield against prejudice. It is not a perfect shield, I know, but it gives people a fighting chance. In my conversations, I want to discuss why the learning gap for black kids is so stubborn and what can be done about it. What is your question about the impact of race on the lives of Americans? And what will you do to find answers?”

Michael Horn, co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation and senior strategist at Guild Education
“As a white person, I’ve been moved to sadness and anger in the days since Floyd’s murder… It’s served as a reminder of one of the reasons I work in education…Why my personal mission is to transform learning so that all individuals—regardless of their background and identity and unfettered by the biases of others—can build their passions and fulfill their human potential. So that all individuals can discover how they can best contribute positively to that world—and do just that. So that we can create the opportunity for all individuals to be inspired by others and make progress. And why I believe that we must tailor learning for each and every child so that we embrace and view each as an individual human being full of promise, not a widget in a factory-model education system….” 

Alvaro DiVicente, Headmaster, The Heights School, Potomac, MD
“During the course of the past 48 hours I have written and erased multiple letters. Ultimately, this is not the time for explanations about cultural realities, philosophical principles, or even exhortations to healing divisions. Instead, this is a time when we, as a family of families, are called to grieve, empathize, support, love, and protect.

“To grieve, because a man died unnecessarily in a brutal manner.  We must not forget to pray for the repose of the soul of George Floyd, and for the consolation of his family and friends.

“To empathize, because this is a dismally difficult time for black Americans.  No man should be defined by the color of his skin.  No man must suffer because of his race.

“To support, because our black students live with a keen awareness of the prejudice that presses in upon their childhood, boyhood, and youth.  May the message from every Heights student, faculty, and parent to our black students be: ‘I stand with you. I am here for you. What can I do to help?’

“To love, because that is the most powerful force in the world and the only one capable of cauterizing the long-festering wound of racism in our country.”

Pope Francis:
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that violence is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us pray for reconciliation and peace.”

St. Francis of Assisi
“Lord, make us instruments of Your peace.”

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In His good time He will indeed make us instruments of His peace. Until that time, we will continue to learn, to understand, and to do all in our power to provide quality education to those in our society who need it most. God bless you, your families, your schools and your kids.

 

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education. We’re always delighted to hear from our readers…suggestions, questions and even the occasional complaint!