Education Law Center stands with the many individuals and organizations expressing sadness and outrage and demanding justice after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and David McAtee and the countless other instances in which racism has caused the loss of Black lives.
For nearly 50 years, we have worked to enforce the right of Black and brown children in New Jersey and across the nation to an education that prepares them for citizenship, the economy and civic life. Yet too often Black and brown children are held back by residing in communities intensely segregated by race and poverty.
While our efforts have contributed to raising the level and quality of education resources and opportunities in public schools serving communities of color, we know full well that dismantling institutional racism in the form of neighborhood disinvestment, a lack of healthcare and employment, criminal injustice and a host of structural inequalities is the only way to make certain all Black and brown children have the opportunity to learn and to lead safe, healthy and fulfilling lives.
As the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized in ordering more funding for our state’s racially isolated schools thirty years ago, “nothing short of substantial social and economic change affecting housing, employment, child care, taxation, welfare will make the difference” for our children.
We also know that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed underlying racial disparities not just in healthcare, housing, employment, and criminal justice, but also in education. When schools closed in early March, students in more affluent towns transitioned more effectively to remote learning. But children in segregated communities have come up against yet another injustice referred to as the “digital divide.” The lack of devices, internet connectivity, food and supports has hampered not just learning but also the connection between school and home. Children are suffering not just academically but also enduring health-related, emotional and social harms.
This is the moment when we must face the truth of the ugly and destructive legacy of racism in our country and what it has wrought on our streets, in our communities and in our schools. ELC stands with #BlackLivesMatter as we redouble our commitment to dismantling institutional racism once and for all and to building a just, fair and inclusive future in every aspect of American life, including the education of our children.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications