Jamaal Bowman, principal of CASA Middle School said, “I am horrified and outraged by the recent racist acts committed by a teacher at MS 118 and principal at MS 224. I look forward to hearing comments from the UFT, CSA, and NYC DOE, as their silence at the moment is deafening and heartbreaking. As an educator for over 17 years, a principal for 9 years, and a black man my entire life, these recent incidents provide evidence that America’s history of overt racism and oppression continues to manifest itself as covert hatred and implicit bias in our schools.”
Jia Lee, NYC public school teacher and member of Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) added, “Teachers across the city participated in a nationally coordinated Black Lives Matter Week of Action from February 5-11. One of our central demands is to institute Black history and ethnic studies in our curriculum. Teachers, such as Mercedes Liriano, need to have the autonomy to teach culturally relevant curriculum for our students. If my union’s (the UFT) leadership would have supported this demand, teachers would be much further along in making racially conscious and just pedagogy accessible to our students.”
“While our so-called leaders play politics, every day children suffer devastating emotional injury in our classrooms and schools. Sometimes they literally die. It is time for parents, educators, students, and allies to hold our leaders accountable and demand that they denounce and destroy the infrastructure of racism within our schools,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director of The Badass Teachers Association.
Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, educator and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Too many students of color are dealing with an oppressive public education system in which they are subjected to under-resourced and segregated schools, over-crowded classrooms, disproportionate suspension rates, and curriculum and instruction that centers whiteness and upholds racist narratives. This is an educational crisis and those who remain silent are complicit.”
“As the parent of a biracial daughter, I know that when the majority of students are black and brown, but the teaching and principal force fail to reflect this demographic, these are hardly isolated situations. Teachers who, in the best interests of their students, go the extra mile to bring in more than standard scripted lessons should be supported, not stifled or shut down. Moreover, we should be looking beyond these separate incidents to the larger issues of systemic racism in our schools: students and schools of color are disproportionately crushed by “test and punish,” “drill and kill” practices that strip them of a rich curriculum, set them up for failure, and pave the way for charter schools to take over their schools,” said Janine Sopp, NYC Opt Out founding member and public school parent.
Eileen Graham, Rochester public school parent and founder of Black Student Leadership said, “What happened in the Bronx happens consistently throughout the state, including Rochester, and it is shameful. We must use our voice, influence and power to deal directly with individuals who attempt to carry on the legacy of bigotry, hatred, and disrespect, and we must continue to be intentional in our fight for black and brown children who have been historically disenfranchised. As a parent, I know that it is important to educate and empower our children through culturally enriching and diverse curriculum. The people demand that our leaders support the needs of our children.”
“As a mother who has long been involved in both education policy and community politics, I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the lack of responsible and diverse cultural and ethnic pedagogy in our public schools. It is especially disheartening in a climate where our most vulnerable children are constantly being bombarded with examples of normalized racism and an education system that is riddled with policies perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline. There is absolutely no excuse for anything other than to stand up for our children, especially students in targeted populations. It's time to reclaim our children's time and revamp our education policies and practices!” said Johanna Garcia, NYC public school parent and President of Community Education Council of District 6, Manhattan.
“Unlike our counterparts in suburbia, who can apply pressure to, or directly vote out, school board members who ignore their wishes, we parents in New York City are grievously disenfranchised by the system of mayoral control. The anti-democratic suppression of our voices as we advocate for the rights and needs of our children has gone on for far too long, with low-income communities of color left most powerless of all. If we want things to change, we need to return control of our classrooms to those with a stake in the system,” said Kemala Karmen, NYC public school parent and founding member of NYC Opt Out.
Jeanette Deutermann, parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out concludes, “Across the State, supporters of equitable and just public education applaud and stand in solidarity with the courageous teachers, students, and parents who have raised their voices to demand educational and racial justice. We expect our education leaders to do the same.”