Black education matters
It has been heartening to see so many Black Lives Matter signs in Heights yards, and to see our neighbors and friends show up for justice at rallies, protests and workshops.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone. We pride ourselves on being a diverse community that supports social activism. But, are we really doing all we can as a community to support racial justice and combat systemic racism?
Would it surprise you to know that white families opt out of CH-UH schools at a rate of 85 percent—a rate significantly higher than many surrounding suburbs? Would it surprise you to know that EdChoice defunds primarily minority schools, and that CH-UH is defunded by millions of dollars every year? Would it surprise you to know that 89 percent of the vouchers in CH-UH go to white families opting out of public schools? Would it surprise you to know that over 93 percent of the students who use vouchers never attended our public schools?
So, as we decorate our lawns with messages of support for our Black neighbors, are we, as white neighbors, really doing what we can and should be doing to fight for racial justice and equity in our own community? Voters recently defeated a school levy [in spring 2020]. That levy was on the ballot solely because of EdChoice vouchers defunding the schools—vouchers which primarily support our white residents, not our Black ones.
To address systemic racism, we must support the institutions that support our Black neighbors. The public schools are at the heart of this support. The majority of children who attend CH-UH schools are Black.
As white community members, we should make sure the schools are integrated. We cannot self-segregate and expect to achieve a more equitable and just community. Separate has never been equal. Dr. King wrote about these same exact problems more than 50 years ago, in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Be part of the solution. Send your children to our excellent public schools.
Most importantly, support our public schools, and the children who attend them, by voting for the levy this November. If you believe that Black lives matter, you must also believe that CH-UH students, the majority of whom are Black, deserve to continue to have an excellent, free public education available to them. Don’t take it away.
Sheryl Banks and Eve McPherson
Sheryl Banks is a Cleveland Heights resident, and parent of a Heights High freshman. Eve McPherson is a Cleveland Heights resident, parent of a Heights High freshman and a Roxboro Middle School student, and an alumna of CH-UH schools.