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PEER statement on police violence, systemic racism, and educational equity

June 26, 2020
by Michael Strambler, Joanna Meyer, Clare Irwin and George Coleman

The past month has been an emotional and challenging time. Like many across the country, the PEER Management Team is pained and disturbed by the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We unequivocally condemn such disturbing acts that tear at the fabric of civil society, and we stand with peaceful protesters who are demanding an end to institutional police violence that disproportionately affects black communities and harms us all. Framed against a long history of systemic racism in the United States, acts of police violence raise painful questions about our nation and its values.

Part of what is animating protests across the country is concern over unfair treatment based on race—discrimination that is interpersonal and institutional in nature. While our nation has made substantial strides towards the American ideal of liberty and justice for all, we still live in a nation of inequity, where some are born with access to vastly more resources, privilege, and opportunity than others. Some must work much harder from the very start due to no fault of their own. Another recent blog post from PEER explores how COVID-19 has laid bare, once again, the educational inequity between low-income communities and their more affluent neighbors.

The recent events, and the unrest they have sparked, have led us to reflect on how PEER’s mission relates to the current moment and our role in contributing to solutions. Our mission is to produce research that can inform early childhood education policy and practice at the local and state levels, increase access to high-quality early childhood education, and reduce disparities in educational outcomes. PEER’s work is motivated by the belief that high-quality education should be available to everyone, regardless of their background. Further, we believe that education policy and practice should be based on research evidence about how to serve historically underserved students effectively. We know our nation has an equity problem; we believe that we must use a systematic, evidence-based approach to address it.

To this end, we remain committed to working with our partners to increase educational equity by identifying, and acting on, evidence regarding what works and what doesn’t. We hope to remain your thought partners by sharing research-based resources like the ones below. And we hope our partners will continue to reach out with ideas about how we can join together to create a more equitable educational system that uses research knowledge to provide all children with the effective learning environments they deserve. In partnership, we can hasten our nation’s reality toward its principles.

Resources for adults who want to understand race and racism in America

Anti-racist Resources from Greater Good (Resource list). The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has compiled pieces that explore the potential of individuals to reduce prejudice in society and in ourselves. The compilation is available here.

Suggested Readings on Race and Reform (Resource list). The Heterodox Academy list of books, articles, and videos were selected to help individuals understand this historic moment and the possibilities for change with regard to race, racism, policing and the criminal justice system. Click here to access the list.

Resources for educators who want to address racism

Teaching about Race, Racism, and Police Violence (Online resource package). Teaching Tolerance, a project of The Southern Poverty Law Center, has continuously updated this package of online resources since it was created in 2014. Click here and scroll down for classroom resources and related professional development.

Resources to Support Children’s Emotional Well-Being Amid Anti-Black Racism, Racial Violence, and Trauma (Article). This week, Child Trends published recommendations for how caregivers can support all children, and especially those who have experienced direct or secondary racial trauma. Click here to access the article and related resources.

Resources for parents who want to talk to their children about race and racism

It’s Never Too Early to Talk to Children about Race (Article). This article from Yale News explains why it’s important that parents talk to children about race from an early age and recommends resources to support these conversations. Click here to read the article.

Talking to Kids Authentically about Race and Racism (Recorded event). PBS KIDS for Parents recently hosted a conversation with parents, educators, and experts in child development and trauma about how parents can talk with young children about racial injustice and violence against black people. Watch the recording here or click here for a collection of resources focused on talking to kids about racism.

Submitted by Joanna Meyer on June 29, 2020