Acknowledging the Present, Working Toward a Just Future
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
There has been much to process over the past year: the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning that convulsed much of 2020, the uprising at our nation’s Capitol, the death of Daunte Wright, the death of Adam Toledo (aged 13), the death of Jaslyn Adams (aged 7), the death of Ma’Khia Bryant (aged 16), mass shootings in multiple cities across the country and the understanding that we have deeply-rooted issues of racial equity and violence that continue to plague our society and prevent our children from realizing their potential. Violence and racial injustice are not only taking lives – but leaving pain, trauma and other wreckage in their wake.
In the face of tragedy and wrongdoing, it has always been my impulse to work that much harder. But while all of us at Advance Illinois will continue to pursue high-quality and equitable education for Illinois students, to make sure that race, income, geography and citizenship status do not limit any child’s potential or growth, we also commit ourselves to working harder and in better partnership with civil rights, racial justice and community-based organizations to reimagine a public education system that is no longer business as usual.
Yesterday’s guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd represents a step toward justice, but it is also a profound reminder of how far we have to go. We are committed to standing in solidarity with all communities – Black, Latinx, Asian-American, LGBTQIA and more – as we work to address, tackle and dismantle the systemic racism and prejudices that are embedded within the fabric of our country and, sadly, within our education system.
We know that when we work together, we can move mountains. We have done so before. Let us stay the course so that all children have the opportunity to be children – to pursue their dreams free from fear, discrimination, trauma and violence and surrounded by adults, schools and communities that support, challenge and nurture them.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members” – Coretta Scott King