On behalf of the Superintendents of 81 districts in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties, the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education today released the following statement in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the centuries of systemic injustices that have led to the present national dialogue on race in America.

“As educators, we have spent the past two weeks in our communities to listen, to help and to join with countless others in speaking out against the systemic racism that remains a part of our culture.

The schools of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties have no tolerance for racist behavior in speech or in action, and we are devastated by the continued injustices against Black Americans around the country. We grieve for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others whose lives have been taken senselessly by a system that failed to protect them. These actions are the result of systemic racism that we must confront and acknowledge in our schools, our communities and in our legal system. We see the results of these systemic shortfalls every day as they impact our students when they come to us in school.

Michigan’s system of public education was designed to serve as a great equalizer, giving students of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn and succeed both in the classroom as well as after graduation. Our public schools have a proud history of inclusiveness, and while not always perfect, our educators continue to work to achieve those ideals today.

We must also recognize, however, the barriers that remain firmly in place in public education that unfortunately remain tied in many ways to race. Together, we must continue our efforts toward changing that and that starts with creating equity in the way we fund schools throughout Michigan to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, learning needs or income barriers, has the opportunities they deserve.

We are poised to create anti-racist learning environments and safe communities where equality for all is more than just a phrase. We want our students, families, teachers and staff to know we are committed to the protection and safety of all those we serve, and we will work to continue to make our schools beacons of change and safe havens for all those who enter. Our teachers, administrators, counselors and social workers stand ready to support students who are affected by these disturbing events. We also know that our roles as educators is more important than ever as we look to partner with parents and community to educate on these issues and prepare the next generation to make changes for the better.

We see the diversity in our communities as one of our inherent strengths. Diverse viewpoints and backgrounds make our classrooms and our society stronger and more engaged. We continue to be hopeful for a future in which young people of all backgrounds come together in our communities and across the country to speak out against injustice, and we commend those young people who are already doing this important work.”

The K-12 Alliance is the leading advocate for policies that support a stronger public education system in Michigan