Working Together to Fight Inequality
Dear Families, Educators, and Stakeholders,
As the state agency in charge of our public schools in Virginia, we have determined that it is our responsibility to maximize the potential of every student in Virginia. But for far too long, students in our communities of color and especially African-American students have faced systemic racism in our public schools and in our broader community. It is our moral duty to be an organization that fights for every child in our schools, but especially for the students where our system has failed. The death of George Floyd and the protests of this past weekend have left me reflecting on how we, as an organization, can re-double, redefine, and strengthen our efforts to eradicate racism from our public schools and to make an impact on the broader community. School is the place, if nowhere else, that we can raise a generation of students committed to each other to ensure equality and equity for every member of our society.
We have begun the process in the leadership of our agency to build cultural competency and trainings that can impact the broader education community, but that alone will not be enough. We must look at our policies, regulations, standards, resources, accountabilities, and all tools available to us to hold ourselves and our school communities accountable to ensuring that race cannot be a predictor of student success and thus, that achievement gaps are eliminated from our schools permanently.
I am committed to working with our school communities to eradicate systemic racism from Virginia’s public schools and our larger communities. School leaders play a unique role in these conversations with our children, and so we must work to seek culturally responsive practices for all of our educators. The fear and rage expressed by protestors about police brutality and racial injustices faced by African-Americans is a reminder that we all have more work to do.
I hope you will join me in standing with anyone in our agency, local divisions or those working in our communities to fight racial injustice in our society and to eradicate racism from our schools. In the coming weeks, I will engage our leadership team to re-double and recommit to our mission to ensure that we can be the beacon of hope and certainty to make a difference in the lives of our students so that this next generation can grow in a future society free of systemic racism, especially in our schools.
I know many of you are hurt and struggling with the recent events, and I recognize that this is not an isolated incident but one that shows the harsh reality of what our African-American community faces on a daily basis. Please know that I’m here to be an ally and accomplice in supporting you, listening and learning from you, but especially want to be here for you if you need anything. Please know that all of you are on my mind as we all find ways to heal.
James F. Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction