I grew up believing I was dumb, that there was something internally wrong with me because I struggled in school. I didn’t get what the other kids were getting. It took many years to undo that harm and for me to decide to go to college.
I never thought I could go to a school like IUPUI and succeed because of the experiences I had in school. I now hold a master’s degree in social work and am working to reduce mass incarceration. From my experience as a local community organizer, I can tell you that racial injustices in our schools are a significant part of the school-to-prison pipeline.
I have two children who graduated from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and one child who used to attend IPS, but doesn’t anymore. I was concerned she wasn’t getting the same learning experiences as her white classmates, so she’s attending a public school outside of the district now.
When she was at an IPS school, I remember one teacher who told me a “C” wasn’t detrimental to her success. I disagreed. That was an indication to me that something was seriously wrong.
Children who can’t read by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, and they have an increased chance of being incarcerated later in life. When schools fail to teach our black and brown children how to read, they are increasing their chances of winding up in prison.
You can put an “A” or “B” grade on schools, but how well are they really serving our kids? I see magnet programs popping up that might serve white children well, but they aren’t getting those same results for children who look like mine.
So often, children of color are at the bottom—always an afterthought – but now is the time to change that.
Black and brown children are just as smart and capable as white children, and they deserve to be more than an afterthought. They deserve to have the best opportunities — they deserve school models that are working. I am glad to see IPS have a “racial equity mindset,” and I really hope to see this equity take place.
I can’t wait for the day when I can take my child to her neighborhood school and not have to worry about the education she is getting. By working together, people like you and me, who care about public education, can ensure more children have access to the quality education and opportunities they deserve.
Join me in the movement to ensure every Hoosier child has the same opportunities to succeed. Add your name if you believe skin color shouldn't determine success.