The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery by police officers are the most recent manifestations of a long and enduring legacy of violence and injustice against Black communities in this country.

Violence can take many forms, and in education, students of color experience violence when they are disproportionately criminalized, devalued, and denied equitable access to educational opportunities. Research clearly shows that nationwide, students of color attend schools with fewer resources than schools serving predominantly white students, are less likely to be taught by experienced and effective teachers and are more likely to attend schools with high levels of teacher turnover. Students of color are also under-represented in Advanced Placement and academically and intellectually gifted (AIG) courses, and Black and Indigenous students in particular are suspended at much higher rates and are punished more harshly for similar offenses than their white peers. While these broad data cannot fully depict the range of ways in which racism impacts the everyday experiences of Black and Brown students, they demonstrate a deep and urgent need for action and offer a starting point from which we can begin to address barriers to justice in our education system.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina stands in solidarity with communities of color who are not only enduring the pain and trauma associated with the manifestation of systemic oppression over the past weeks and months, but also the daily trauma that comes with being Black or Brown in America. Our organization remains deeply dedicated to actively engaging in efforts to eliminate systemic racism in our educational system and our schools.

The Forum will continue to work towards our vision that all North Carolina children shall have the opportunity to reach their full potential through equitable and meaningful public education, which requires directly confronting the deeply ingrained racial inequities that have shaped and are perpetuated through our entire system of public education. We are committed to having the hard but necessary conversations amongst our team, with our program partners, and with policymakers and we will listen, first and foremost, to students, parents, and educators of color whose voices must be centered in this process. We will speak truth to power and hold our leaders accountable for ensuring that our students of color have access to a sound basic education—a constitutional right that has been guaranteed to each and every child in North Carolina.

We are encouraged by the commitment of so many who have taken a stand in the fight against racism and white supremacy, and we know that to make meaningful change, this commitment must endure far beyond the current moment. We urge all stakeholders to engage in collective efforts to build the just and equitable world that our young people deserve.

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