Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Building Better Schools

For someone who writes about community issues seven days a week, I don’t get very many press releases. That’s okay. I’m perfectly capable of finding my own stories. This one, though, came to me via press release, from Matthew Vaughan-Smith. Mr. Vaughan-Smith is the president of Anti-Racist Education Alliance which was founded with the mission of:

... upholding the vision of a public school system where all Black and Brown students achieve their fullest potential and where educators of color are valued, supported, and given space to use their power. We will do this through service to our community, through advocacy, and through building relationships. (Vaughan-Smith, June 4th, 2020)

Here is the release in its entirety. I’ll add a few words of my own below.

The Anti-Racist Education Alliance, Inc. Endorses Police-Free Schools 

AREA says No to SROs (School Resource Officers)

Baltimore, MD- July 9, 2020- The Board of Directors of The Anti-Racist Education Alliance, Inc. (AREA) voted unanimously to endorse Police-Free school movements in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.  In considering this endorsement, AREA considered the grim impact of police in schools on all students with careful attention paid to the disproportionate impact on Black and Brown students.  According to NBI #01-2020, 56% of students arrested in Maryland schools were Black/African Americans.  In light of this and their own 4-point agenda, AREA was compelled to take this stance against the fueling of the School to Prison Pipeline.

Of this bold stance, President Matthew Vaughn-Smith said “For an organization that is only two months old, this is a historic move. We have committed in a strong way to racial justice in our schools.  Our Black and Brown children deserve to feel safe.”  In addressing the method that AREA will employ in their endorsement, President Vaughn-Smith stated “We will work with area grassroots organizations to end the School to Prison Pipeline.”

As a part of their stance, AREA will be hosting a series of virtual teach-ins to liberate schools. The first will be on Monday, August 10th at 6 pm. The topic is Police-Free schools. You can RSVP for this and future events on AREA’s Facebook page, @AREAlliance. Press is welcome at this event, which is free and open to the public. Educators and community who are members of AREA will be available for questions.

About The Anti-Racist Education Alliance, Inc.: The Anti-Racist Education Alliance, Inc. is a pending 501(c)(3) organization that serves the Greater Baltimore Area.  AREA’s mission and vision is to actively work to dismantle the racist systems and structures within education and the greater community, and to build structures that promote equity of access for Black, Indigenous and Students of Color.  AREA commits itself to the following 4-Point Agenda which guides it’s work for FY 2021: Creating Space for Educators of Color, Centering Student & Community Voice, Decolonizing Curriculum, and Advocating for a Restorative Culture.


Despite whatever the official intentions may have been for instituting SRO’s, the data show that the results for Black and Brown children are abysmal. We have the numbers. What remains is our responsibility to change the system and make it bettter. As I wrote in a recent piece (I Was Wrong

No matter how good, or kind, or devoted any one individual resource officer may be, the institution itself threatens the educational opportunities for Black and Brown students throughout the system. That’s what makes it an equity issue.

Want to learn more? AREA is hosting a teach-in at 6:30 pm on August 10th.

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