Fighting Back Against Threats to Public Education
Public education is an undeniable right, yet many communities are forced to fight for it. Public schools across the country face mounting attacks that undermine public trust in the institution. Whether banning books, state bills restricting school curricula, or funding police in schools at the expense of vital educational resources, divestment is crushing the public education system young people and their communities rely on.
In New York, historic budget cuts are leaving already struggling school districts stretched even thinner. Yet, this is not new. “AQE has spent decades fighting with the New York state legislature to fully fund our schools,” proclaims Jasmine Gripper, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education (AQE). Meanwhile, charter schools continue to expand in Arkansas and further deplete public school enrollment. Even worse, “these privatization schemes are leading to a re-segregation of our public schools,” says Bill Kopsky, Arkansas Public Policy Panel’s executive director.
Edward W. Hazen Foundation is committed to supporting grassroots organizers working to combat threats against public education, and who are putting young people and parents at the forefront of education reform. “Youth Rise Texas puts students in power positions. That way, we have the power to control our futures,” affirms Malaika Beg, a youth organizer with Youth Rise Texas. Our grantees work to build policies and systems that prioritize the well-being and success of students and families. Such as the Black Organizing Project (BOP), which successfully removed police from Oakland public schools and are now focused on creating a Black sanctuary. “Black Sanctuary for us would look like healthy and adequately funded communities and schools where Black families and Black students are able to thrive, free from carceral or oppressive structures,” explains Desiree Mims, communications organizer for BOP.
Given the escalating challenges our public education system faces, the Hazen Foundation called upon its network of grantees leading local education reform across the country. Moderated by our board member, Dr. Mara Tieken, our 2022 media briefing, “Fighting Back Against Threats to Public Education,” illustrates the actions our grantees across the country are taking to protect and uphold the public education system.
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