Our hearts break at the pain the Black community across the country is feeling right now, and the Oakland Ed Fund stands in solidarity with our Oakland community. We too are outraged at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, Tony McDade, Oscar Grant, Nia Wilson, and countless others as a result of police brutality and white supremacist attacks.
Systemic racism and injustice are the roots of this pain. These events do not reflect new behaviors and perpetuate the many inequities our Black community faces every day. A protest banner seen recently in Oakland read: Respect our Existence or Expect our Resistance.
The core of our work at the Ed Fund is Oakland youth for whom these are very painful and traumatic times. COVID-19’s devastating impacts already exacerbated the inequities in the economic and educational systems that have failed our Black students year after year.
While Oakland schools and educators have been working hard to keep students connected, and parents have done their best to meet the challenge of remote learning, nationwide the reality is that 35% of lowest-income students have done little to no remote learning since learning went on-line. As we head into summer, these young people will have gone 6 or more months without effective learning. The outlook for next school year only looks more uncertain, with education funding from the state drastically reduced, and no clear plans for support from the federal government. This turn of events presents even greater challenges.
To help Oakland’s youth, we remain committed to helping to build an equity-based education system that allows our Black students to achieve their full potentials, one that also fully respects and supports them and their families. The status quo is not acceptable, and we will continue our efforts to make things better. Systemic equity is a goal we must continue to strive for in education.
Right now, we’re reflecting on our role in helping to create an equitable educational system for Oakland’s youth that also accounts for our community’s needs, including:
- Engaging in the deep work needed to be a truly anti-racist organization;
- Increased support of educators training our next generation youth leaders;
- Listening to youth leaders as part of learning how best to support students; and
- Increased support of programs disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
To our youth, our partners, our educators, and our community, we are not bystanders. We say: we see you, we hear you, we care about you, and we are with you. Black Lives Matter!
The staff and Board of the Oakland Public Education Fund
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Photograph: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/Rex/Shutterstock