We Must Acknowledge Race in Schools

"Blueprint" Board Must Have Race Equity Expertise

A Black person is standing on a sidewalk and has hair past their shoulders and wearing a mask and a t-shirt that says "Use Your Power to Empower."

We need experienced, race-conscious education leaders at the top. While we are happy that the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act passed in 2020 and that Governor Hogan’s veto was overridden in 2021, but there is much work left to do to address the root causes of racial disparities in our schools.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was developed to ensure that hundreds of thousands of children can attend “world-class” schools that are well funded. That matters because Maryland has a state constitutional obligation to guarantee our children a “thorough and efficient” education, which has been particularly denied to Black and Brown children for generations.

In July of this year, the Maryland Alliance for Race Equity in Education (MAREE), a coalition of education advocacy, civil rights, and community-based organizations, sent a letter to the state’s Blueprint Board Nominating Committee, which will be recommending members to the state’s new Accountability and Implementation Board, charged with overseeing the Blueprint’s rollout. Board members will be in place for six years and they will have an enormous amount of power in directing how school districts are implementing the various Blueprint programs — including the ability to withhold a certain amount of funding if they deem it necessary.

MAREE’s demand is to have additional criteria for the new members of the Accountability and Implementation Board. These additional criteria would ensure that the Board has both knowledge of racial disparities in Maryland public schools and expertise in race-conscious practices so they can ensure Maryland provides an education and environment for Black and Latinx children to excel in.

What do the education leaders need who are overseeing the implementation of Maryland’s Blueprint?

  • Knowledge on how to implement antiracist education practices in school settings;
  • Vast experience working with students who are Black, Brown, and/or from families with low income;
  • Experience working in schools that have high poverty rates and populations of predominantly Black and Brown children;
  • Deep knowledge on how racial disparities in Maryland’s schools affect children;
  • Deep knowledge on the root causes of racial disparities in Maryland’s schools and how to close that achievement gap;
  • Knowledge on how to attract and retain Black teachers and Teachers of Color; and
  • Knowledge on current funding trends in schools. Schools located in the lowest wealth districts in Maryland with largest population of Black and Brown students are the most underfunded according to the state’s own report, and will have more challenges implementing the Blueprint than their better funded neighbors.

As MAREE’s letter points out, our nation is going through a modern racial justice movement. It only makes sense for our places of education to catch up. We cannot tolerate education leaders who oversee and manage public schools continue to not acknowledge race. They only serves to deepen racial disparities. By ignoring the problems, we cannot find the solutions.  

Help get the word out about MAREE’s letter to the state’s Blueprint Nominations Committee. Share this blog on social media and read MAREE’s letter here.

And check out the OpEd, “Education Advocates: Blueprint Board Must Have Members with Expertise in Race Equity,” members of the MAREE coalition recently published in Maryland Matters.

Several children are in a circle holding lifted up hands and are with an adult. They are all smiling and laughing.

(Updated August 18, 2021)