Time to Act: Statement from Patrick D’Amelio on Recent Racist Violence

Jun 1, 2020 | Blog

This is a time for action. Last week, a video was released showing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, being killed while in police custody.  

Mr. Floyd is just one person in a long line of Black lives lost to racist violence including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor within the last two months alone. Their families grieve, we grieve, but grieving alone is not enough. 

Racist inequity is woven into every part of our current American system – a system that includes public education. Disproportionate discipline of black and brown students in U.S. schools leads to lifetimes of excessive punishment and unnecessary incarceration. Lack of culturally responsive education experiences sets up high barriers between students of color and academic success. Lack of teacher diversity negatively impacts students of color on a daily basis. The list of racial systemic challenges goes on and on. 

The charter public school sector in Washington was set up to identify, disrupt, and transform inequity inherent in our social systems, including the school-to-prison pipeline. Schools do this by providing individualized, responsive, and anti-racist education to all children regardless of race or zip code. While we celebrate the work that many charter public schools have done to narrow opportunity gaps we also recognize that we have far to go.

Today, WA Charters is taking a small but very intentional step to support organizations that dismantle racism and address injustice across our communities. We are making a financial contribution to the Equal Justice Initiative and Black Lives Matter Seattle.

We will continue to support our schools and communities by providing resources that help schools engage students and families in conversation, deepen knowledge of historical and current racism in the U.S., further anti-racist understanding, and support necessary and swift action.

As an organization, we are adding staff capacity to support this work and to lead anti-racist action across the charter public school sector. To house immediate resources for the community, we have added and will continue to update a list of anti-racist resources to our website. 

On a personal note, I am re-committing to transforming racist mindsets and behaviors within myself. Now more than ever, I and other white and privileged people must move beyond allyship to intentional and direct action. We must sacrifice systemic privileges in order to further eradicate inequitable and violent systems of racism. 

My family is joining WA Charters in supporting the Equal Justice Initiative and Black Lives Matter, and I hope that you will consider giving to these anti-racist causes as well.

We must act, and I call on my community, my network, and my colleagues to join me.

Patrick D’Amelio, CEO, Washington State Charter Schools Association