“Public education is our greatest pathway to opportunity in America…”
— Former First Lady Michelle Obama
The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) stands with our nation in anger and grief over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. These three lives, needlessly ended, are the most recent manifestations of historic and systemic racism that permeates our society, our institutions and our laws perpetuating discrimination against people of color.
These events represent yet another blow to communities of color, which are disproportionately suffering and dying from the COVID-19 pandemic. Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of those employed in front-line retail, restaurants, transportation, delivery and hospitality sectors who have lost employment. Without income, they are now challenged to pay their bills, put food on their tables, and support their children’s education through distance learning while often not having the technology and support required for online learning.
We at CAPSS condemn all acts of violence, overt and covert, against Black and Latino communities. We also condemn the systems in place that promote and sustain discrimination against people of color. As an educational organization, we have a moral imperative to fight for justice for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, gender, gender identification, or intellectual ability. We also have an obligation to address within our schools any hostile environments, discriminatory attitudes and biased actions against students and families of color, knowing such actions limit their opportunities for success and cause them to distrust our schools.
Education is the strongest weapon we have to address the racial and economic disparities that have plagued our nation since its inception. Connecticut’s public school teachers must work every day to uphold ideals of equality, fairness, justice and democracy. It is essential to provide our students – every student – with the skills, knowledge and dispositions to succeed. This requires that every student is reading by grade three, because this is the most important predictor of success.
To achieve these goals, we must be vigilant in ensuring that the needs of each and every student is met. We must work tirelessly to create environments in which every student can grow and thrive emotionally, socially and academically.
As we head into a new school year, we will be challenged to help students and parents cope with upheaval, economic uncertainty and fear for their future. We must remain sensitive to the tremendous stress our students and families have experienced over the past few months.
While progress has been made in addressing the conditions, attitudes and environments that foment inequity, more has to be done to address the devastating impact of COVID-19 and civil rights abuses on economic inequality and mental health.
Historical inequities – and the resulting societal wounds laid bare in 2020 – will not be solved immediately or easily.
Governor Lamont, the state department of education, our school districts, educators and community leaders have been important collaborators with CAPSS in addressing these issues. This model of collaboration promises to help our state address and eliminate the roadblocks that perpetuate racial, social and educational disparities.
CAPSS’ October 2019 statement on schools’ role in addressing racial injustice:
Statement Regarding Issues Around Racial Intolerance
Resources to help families during Covid-19:
Dealing with Covid-19 Resources For Supporting Families