Friends & Partners,
These have been turbulent weeks in our city and across the country. Once again, our nation finds itself standing at a moral crossroad with the world watching and waiting to see which path we will take. As I follow the events unfolding across the country and read statements from other organizations condemning unjust violence against Black Americans and the racially prejudiced systems that perpetuate such atrocities, I stand with those vocalizing their fatigue and frustration with current race relations. It has been difficult to capture the words to describe all my emotions, but what I can say is that racism against Black Americans and the tragic loss of Black lives is painful and it must stop – NOW!
In my 18 years at the Georgia Partnership, I have led with a deep conviction that all students in Georgia deserve access to a high-quality education that ensures they have an excellent chance of leading a fulfilling life. In January, we released the 16th edition of our Top Ten Issues to Watch report, and as we strive to do every year, we focused heavily on the growing disparities in our public education system, the increasing number of children living in poverty and the compounding issues of equity and justice that effect their education and their future livelihood. Since the report’s release, our nation has been thrust into the international spotlight as our leaders wrestle with how best to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the boiling over of racial tensions following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
If nothing else, these tragedies have reminded us that we’ve overlooked injustices and inequities in our communities for far too long. We’ve also been reminded that we need our leaders from businesses, churches, elected offices, and nonprofits to step-up and lead beyond the rhetoric. Yes, it’s important that we engage in tough, uncomfortable conversations. But then we must move quickly to strategic action steps to guarantee equity and justice for all of us. We have quoted for decades the famous words of Gandhi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” It is time that we respond seriously to that charge. We must honestly look not just at our external behaviors, but also at what is in our hearts and minds.
Consequently, we, at the Georgia Partnership, will be approaching our work with an even greater focus on eliminating barriers and dismantling prejudiced systems that prevent Black, Brown, and impoverished children from achieving their full potential. For nearly 30 years we have been effective at putting a spotlight on important education policy issues, but now is the time for us to turn up the heat. You will see our intensified efforts in the next edition of the Top Ten Issues to Watch report, our Critical Issue Forums, our Field Notes podcasts, and our Education Policy Fellows Program.
Addressing equity and social justice issues to level the playing field for our children, families, and communities is a critical step toward providing better educational opportunities and life outcomes for students. So let’s ensure that our children are matriculating through a just and equitable birth-to-work pipeline, thus helping our communities and our country. Perhaps we can start by not just frequently pledging, but recommitting to, “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
Dr. Steve Dolinger