Public education and civil unrest

For Immediate Release
June 5, 2020

ATLANTA -- “People are tired,” said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). “They are tired of being downtrodden, overlooked, and under-resourced.  They are tired of not being provided the same opportunities to advance in life, provide for their families, and live where they want to live.  They are tired of not getting a job or advancing in the one they have simply because of pre-conceived ideas projected onto their ethnicity.

What we are witnessing is an alignment of planets of sorts.  A convergence of a pandemic, layered with extreme sudden joblessness, which has led to an abrupt lack of income needed to live one’s life. Now place all of that into a cauldron of decades of racism, both overt and institutionalized, and then, underneath, light the flame of injustice with the all to frequent tragedies parallel to that which took the life of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.  What you get is society coming to a boiling point.

GAE wholly supports the peaceful protesters who are attempting to move progress forward here in Georgia and across this nation.  GAE denounces those who hijack the opportunity to destroy, hurt and deflect from the message of hope and fairness the true protesters are trying to convey.

Georgia, as is most of the deep south, should be in a unique position to understand what is happening.   The difference is this is now a new generation of citizens who are tired.  It is reflected in the rainbow of skin tones and accents that are marching from sea to shining sea.

Public educators are also in a unique position of understanding the moment.  It is we, who by the very nature of our positions teach not only the 3 Rs, but also teach history and social studies, and hopefully tolerance for those who look different from us.

I would imagine that most of the protesters matriculated through a public k-12 school.  GAE has always conveyed that public education is the foundation of our democracy.  Even with our constant battles of funding and resources, when the rubber meets the road, we do our best to prepare generations for their time in the spotlight.

This generation’s time has come, and public educators are proud to have had some hand in preparing them for what lies ahead in demanding and enacting justice and fairness for all people.  We also hope they realize that in America, enacting change means showing up at, or for many at this time, mailing in to, the ballot box.

Lastly, GAE is throwing its support behind HB 426, a measure that would allow enhanced penalties for crimes committed against victims because of ‘race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.’  To us this is a no-brainer.  This measure should sail through the Georgia Senate without opposition when they reconvene this month; and should it not, remember the ballot box.”