To Donald Trump,
As parents, students and community organizations deeply invested in America’s public schools, we are mortified by your insistence on forcing children into school building in September with no articulated plan to ensure their safety. The COVID pandemic has claimed the lives of over 133,000 Americans and sadly, we are on our own. Your administration has demonstrated absolute expertise in incompetence and arrogance; every day that your administration ignores science and repeats bizarre talking points the American public is in imminent danger. With the recent outbreak, we are witnessing an undeniable surge in the numbers of hospitalized young people yet your administration pats itself on the back while Americans die. Mrs. Devos, at a time when funding for education should be doubled, so that schools can meet the needs of traumatized children upon our return you along with many governors are cutting education funding? This is madness. Our children will not be your guinea pigs, used as political fodder and marched from our homes to the morgue.
The Journey for Justice Alliance consists of Black and Brown led grassroots, membership-based community organizations in over 30 cities across the United States. We live in the neighborhoods where decades of inequity were ignored, and our schools were closed, harming the education of our children. We are exhausted, but unbowed. We demand that schools are opened safely and equitably and should commence only if the following conditions are met: 1. We demand a teacher to student ratio of 1:10.
- PPE and regular COVID testing for everyone in the school building with a steady supply of masks and hand sanitizer for every class and office.
- CDC approved sanitation grade products such as Lysol for every classroom and office.
- Union custodial staff to sanitize school buildings on a regular basis. Privatized sanitation companies such as Aramark have been a disaster in several school districts before COVID and cannot be trusted in this moment.
- A school nurse for every 100 students, in every school.
- Any school with over 70% free and reduced lunch must receive the funding to become a sustainable community school, an evidence-based school improvement model where the local community can apply school resources to address local needs.
- Elimination of all punitive standardized testing. Children must be able to engage in project-based learning, complete portfolio assessments and other growth evaluation models as opposed to being stigmatized by a model that is ineffective in gauging student knowledge and development.
- Eliminate police from public schools. Use those millions to reduce the student to counselor ratio to 50:1. In districts like Chicago, the ratio is 650:1!
- A mental health specialist for every 100 students.
- If parents opt out of sending their children to school, virtual learning in the public-school system must be provided, without penalty to the student.
We believe that the first prerequisite of effective leadership is humility. You must be able to hear more than your own voice. For America to live up to the rhetoric, it is people should not have to conflict with its elected leaders. Show some care and concern for America’s students.
Sharon Wright Jackson
CC: Mike Pence