Excerpt from the 25th Anniversary Overcoming the Odds Awards ceremony
“You have to know the past in order to understand the present”
– Carl Sagan
What is key, however, is knowing the true history of the past in order to be true to our present. Such is the case in acknowledging that our national public school system was created by black congressmen and a black Senator over 100 years ago during Reconstruction, to provide equitable education for children of color and poor white children. Today, our legally-based education advocacy services focus on garnering support for local youth, primarily in the public school system, who are seriously struggling and at risk of failing or dropping out. During our annual Overcoming the Odds event, Student Advocacy’s Interim Executive Director, Leslie K. Brown, addresses the founding of public education in this country, and what it means to Student Advocacy to ensure that the dream of an equitable education is realized.
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Student Advocacy Promotes Racial Justice
Student Advocacy adds its voice to the protests nationwide against the racial injustice which black communities continue to suffer. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Our mission is to be an effective voice for children who face significant obstacles in school, so that they receive the resources and support they need to be successful. This mission is rooted in our belief that every child matters.
Through our efforts to protect children’s educational rights and improve educational outcomes, we know the unique, immense obstacles to success which black students face. They represent systemic, institutionalized racial barriers, which have led to the misclassification and overclassification of black children for special education services; increased and disproportionate disciplinary actions and suspension rates; reduced access to advanced classes; increased rates of retention; and lower graduation rates. Disproportionately fewer Black students go to two and four-year colleges and, unfortunately, frequently do not graduate. We are dedicated to reversing these outcomes.
The demand for change is critical. Through our Solutions Not Suspensions initiative, we advocate for change in school disciplinary practices and policies. Black children who are suspended at a disproportionate rate too often enter the school to prison pipeline.
This is a pivotal moment in our country, where organizations and individuals must come together to speak out against racism, and to address society’s inequities and disparities.
We will continue to work to eliminate the many obstacles to school success caused by systemic racial injustice. Student Advocacy stands with our community partners who are fighting to increase access to quality healthcare, end housing discrimination, improve employment opportunities, and eliminate the inequities in the justice system.