On behalf of MarylandCAN, I want to express my heartfelt sadness and compassion for Freddie Gray and his family, for the police who have been injured and for all those who have been hurt, killed and affected by violence in Baltimore.
I moved to the city 18 years ago and have lived and worked in public education in and around Baltimore ever since. My children were born there and I have had the blessing of working as a teacher and principal with hundreds of Baltimore children.
In spite of the hard work done by so many, the reality is that as a city and state we have failed too many of our children. As a society we have created and perpetuated an underclass that is almost entirely black that has been denied a quality education, livable jobs and justice under the law for generations.
The starting point for change is to recognize that this is a much bigger issue than just education. While our schools have a vital role to play in the changes we seek, as advocates our solutions must reflect the enormity of the problem our children and their families face. White people have gradually become more conscious of the racist foundations of so many of our institutions, but we have continued to fall short of the fundamental reforms that would bring true justice to all people in our state.
I have worked my entire adult life to try and help eradicate this dynamic from public education in Baltimore and across our state. And I have been blessed to work alongside so many others who have dedicated their lives to eradicating this dynamic from our law enforcement and criminal justice systems and our broader economic systems. Yet we still have so far to go. We need to fundamentally change an environment that gives kids no hope and that continues to deny so many of our citizens the just treatment that the rest of us take for granted.
I hope for the violence–all violence–to subside. But I know that will only happen when we succeed in replacing it with true justice. If we all work together in the weeks and months and years ahead, we can give hope and real opportunities to children and families alike and make Baltimore the great city it can be.