Education Advocates: Blueprint Board Must Have Members With Expertise in Race Equity

Blueprint
Photo by Elizabeth Shwe.

While our community still revels in the victory of overriding the governor’s veto of the landmark Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the fight for racial equity in our schools is far from over. With just days left in the application window for the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), it is critical that the nominating committee prioritize race equity in the selection process of the board.

As proud members of the Maryland Alliance for Racial Equity in Education (MAREE), we stand united with the countless Black and Brown education advocates who are poised to ensure that the Blueprint will meet the high expectations laid out in the legislation. The state must follow through on its promise to deliver a fully funded, world-class education for all Maryland students.

Considering the extraordinary role that the Accountability and Implementation Board will have on the implementation of the Blueprint, it’s crucial that we are intentional about the expertise and representation of every single member of the board, particularly with respect to their deep knowledge of racial disparities in Maryland schools.

Since our founding, the MAREE coalition, composed of Black and Brown education advocacy, civil rights and community-based organizations, has worked tirelessly in Annapolis to ensure that the Blueprint incorporates meaningful policy for Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and low-income families. Our coalition was deeply engaged in the countless hearings and debates that resulted in the package that we are certain, if implemented adequately, and funded equitably, will change the lives of our young children of color.

After years of broken promises, underfunding and irreparable life outcomes for students of color, students and parents are ready to see real transformation in our schools. The AIB will bear enormous responsibility for delivering that transformation.

The AIB nominating committee must ensure that board members do not simply have a background in education but also have vast experience and success in implementing multicultural, anti-racist and race equitable education practices in schools.

Our board should be rich with individuals who have experience serving in Title 1 and high-poverty schools with predominantly Black and Brown students, individuals with deep knowledge of Maryland’s racial disparities (including academic achievement, suspensions/expulsions, graduation, attendance, etc.) and the root causes behind them, and individuals with extraordinary knowledge of effective policies and practices to recruit and retain teachers of color.

Additionally, it’s critical that directly impacted voices are represented. We strongly urge that the committee include a student, parent and/or advocates group in the community, with vast experience in learning, advocating or working in schools with majority Black and Brown students.

With such high stakes for students and families in Maryland, we are also calling on the nominations committee to hold at least one statewide public meeting and ensure that impacted constituents, especially students and parents in the most underfunded and under-resourced schools, know what the AIB is, and have the opportunity to provide input on their priorities for the AIB member criteria.

Our voices, and the voices of impacted individuals, must be heard.

Our nation is undergoing a reckoning on race, and decades of inequitable school funding and race-blind policies continue to be a major barrier to ensuring that Black and Brown students have equal opportunity to succeed in school, college, their careers and beyond.

We are facing an extraordinary moment for Maryland to reverse this trend. Ensuring that the Accountability and Implementation Board has members with the right expertise is a necessary first step.

–SHARLIMAR DOUGLASS, GUSTAVO TORRES, LAURA JOHNSON, ADRIANNE DILLAHUNT AND TIFFANY MAJORS

sharlimar douglass is the chair of the Maryland Alliance for Racial Equity in Education. Gustavo Torres is executive director of CASA. Laura Johnson and Adrianne Dillahunt are the education co-chairs of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. Tiffany Majors is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League.