Failure to deliver for Black students must be addressed with urgency
Following President & CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey’s initial statement on today’s Grand Jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence issued the following statement about building justice and racial equity in the Kentucky public education system:
Kentucky’s public schools have failed to deliver for Black students. Our schools:
- Put Black students through disruptive “in-school removals” from classrooms far more often than white students.
- Include Black students in gifted programs and advanced classes at far lower rates than white students.
- Deliver proficiency for Black students at far lower rates.
- Support too few Black students on the path to graduation
- Equip too few of their Black graduates with skills that qualify them as ready for college or career.
- Employ far too few Black teachers, weakening learning for all students and especially weakening the supports Black learners draw from educators who share that part of their identities.
Our public institutions of higher education have also fallen far short. They:
- Enroll too few Black students.
- Ensure that too few first-year Black students persist to their second year.
- Graduate too few of the Black students who enroll.
In naming these weaknesses of our elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educations system, we want to underline that we are naming failures by the institutions. The learners bring talent, knowledge, culture, experience, energy, and potential to our classrooms, and it must be our shared work to ensure that their many gifts are nurtured and richly developed.
We also know that outside those institutions, structural factors continue to offer Black Kentuckians inadequate opportunities to flourish. Those structural factors are at work from very early on, trackable in Black children being less likely to be born with healthy birthweights and less likely to grow up in homes with adequate incomes. We affirm simultaneously that education cannot repair these failings alone and that education must be a major force in the work of creating justice.
We must rebuild each of our systems so that they support full and rich lives for Black Kentuckians and for all the rest of us. In education, that work will summon us to deep work on implicit bias, cultural responsiveness, consistent inclusion, respectful collaboration, sustained leadership, robust funding, and shared commitment to a society that empowers us all.
In June, our Board of Directors called upon state and local government leaders to develop cultural competency & implicit bias trainings for educators and future educators. As a statewide citizen-led nonprofit working to advance education progress, we committed to doing the same with our staff, board, membership, parent leaders and student leaders. We started this training process just last night.
We cannot do this work alone. Please consider joining our Equity Coalition so that you can help us do the work of committing to intensive, sustained, collaborative work in the field of education.
May Breonna Taylor’s memory bless us with the anger and strength to build a better Kentucky together.