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OPENing Letter Part III: What We Need

It’s not about the failings of public education, it’s about how we fail to show up for Black and brown children.

Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.


Part III: What We Need

We’re at a crossroads — some may say a breaking point — and we have a decision to make. Will we continue to show up in pieces and nibble around the edges of systemic oppression with “innovative” designs, new “reform” strategies and inappropriate school governance models? Or will we wholly commit to creating new contexts around and within schools in which poverty, racism and other social violences that we know hurt kids are deemed unacceptable and addressed with urgency?

Because this isn’t about schools. It’s about how we show up for Black and brown children.

The issue is not a failing school system but the wholly failing system of systems. We must confront what we choose to believe about people that don’t look like us, the lack of economic opportunities, environmental classism and racism, high incarceration rates and inequitable public representation and policies that deliberately segregate cities because these are the choices that are failing children en masse, not individual families or traditional school models.

If we want schools to produce different outcomes, societies need to work differently for children. Choice programs and discounted tickets out of poor neighborhoods will not help all children thrive… because they would have already. For better schools, we need transformed cities where all children are our children — including the ones we don’t see or live next to. Instead of offering a few families an escape route or herding them all into a new inequitable system, we need to build radical systems that serve all families, redistribute power and wealth equitably, and build and advance community agency. 

When we create systems that support families and policies that demonstrate care and respect for historically underserved Black and brown children, then we’ll see public schools do better — and not until.

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