There is no institution more critical in the fight for racial equity than education. Yet, our education system remains subject to the very ailments that perpetuate structures of inequity and exclusion. For example, in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Black students are 1.7 times more likely to be suspended than white students. Conversely, white students in CMSD are 1.9 times more likely to be enrolled in honors programs than Black students.
The problem persists on the state level. Recently, the Ohio State Board of Education passed a resolution to "condemn racism and advance equity and opportunity for Black students, Indigenous students, and students of color." The resolution acknowledges that profound racial disparities exist between students of color and their white peers in all parts of the Ohio education system, including in generously resourced schools. Additionally, the Board addresses the need for revised curriculum that is racially and culturally comprehensive, emphasizes the importance of implicit bias training, and calls upon every Ohio school district to examine the role of racism in all facets of their schools' operations- particularly in curriculum, hiring practices, staff development practices, and student discipline.
Supporters applauded the resolution as a timely and significant step to begin to dismantle systemic racism at all levels of education. Critics call the resolution "unjustified" and dispute the assertion that a systemic problem exists in Ohio's schools.
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education
President and Member-at-Large, Ohio State Board of Education
Renée T. Willis, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools, Richmond Heights Local Schools