Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson released a letter Monday, June 1 in response to the recent police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The message to the school community referenced the fact that 124,000 of the system’s 136,000 students identify as Black or Latino, adding her belief that educators remain essential in paving a more amenable path of righteousness for students.
Goldson’s letter follows below in its entirety:
From Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd, the sequence of recent racially-charged events has exacerbated the trauma that our communities are experiencing. This is true for our students, their families and our staff members.
I watched the video of George Floyd’s last moments with horror and disbelief as he cried for help while others watched without action. I immediately switched to the mindset of a mother and pondered how I can protect my children from the injustice they may inevitably experience because of the color of their skin. As a parent of two young men and leader of a diverse school system, I implore all of us to work together to ensure we treat one another with dignity, respect and value the diverse views we bring to create our community spaces.
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) enrolls predominantly black and brown children – more than 124,200 students of color – in the most affluent African-American county in the nation. While these events occurred in different parts of the United States to men and women who represent a cross-section of our nation, what they have in common is their race. Our PGCPS community has been inundated with videos, statements and images depicting anger, violence and calls for change. We have witnessed an outpouring of uprisings globally, nationally, regionally and locally where diverse groups have converged to affirm that they want their voices heard.
Public education occupies a unique place in our society. We cannot ignore the reality that students look to educators for clarity, understanding and empathy. However, we are not without our own challenges as a school community. We must confront and challenge our own biases when it comes to who can and does achieve. We must guard against collective complacency and act with fierce urgency in our pursuit of equity.
In PGCPS, we believe that all staff share the responsibility for a safe and supportive school environment that contributes to excellence in education.
Today, we reaffirm our understanding of the need for educators to help chart the path forward when uprisings occur. We underscore our commitment, as a school system, to equity, social justice, diversity and inclusion among our core values. As we close this school year and transition to planning for the next, we aim to ensure our students and staff have the tools they need to contribute to communities confronting institutional racism, bias and discrimination.
While we will always emphasize the importance of academic excellence, each of our students, regardless of race or ethnicity, must feel affirmed, valued and cared for within our school system in order to achieve that goal. That work starts with each of us, every day in every neighborhood for every child.