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Commentary from the NAACP Racine Branch: RUSD's summer school changes 'not enough'

Commentary from the NAACP Racine Branch: RUSD's summer school changes 'not enough'

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The Racine NAACP has been in talks with Racine Unified School District since April 26, regarding systemic barriers that have been imposed; that we know will prevent our Black and brown and low income children from enrolling in 2021 summer school programming.

Our children need to be in summer school to re-engage them in the learning process after being off and virtual for so long, and to help offset some of the learning they lost during the pandemic.

We acknowledge what the district has agreed to provide because of our talks:

  • Four free shuttles to transport some inner city students from four designated satellite pick up points to the three designated summer school sites;
  • Waiving enrollment fees for the extended learning programs; and
  • Opening Knapp and Julian Thomas for three hours and 45 minutes for the extending learning programs only.

However, the NAACP and those that are standing in support of our efforts and our children are collectively saying: “It is not enough!”

We need for Racine Unified to prioritize the success of their Black and brown students who have been underserved for far too long. We continue to demand that Julian Thomas and Knapp schools are open for summer school too. We continue to demand that the district provides bus service for all students attending summer school and pick them up in the communities in which they live. Some children simply do not have transportation to get to one of the four designated shuttle bus pick up points either.

According to information provided to the NAACP, the district has received over $30 million in federal stimulus money and is projected to receive approximately $53 million more. The excuse has always been we do not have enough funding when it pertains to the needs of our children. The parents of children in RUSD should be asking the district along with us, what is the excuse now?

Receiving these funds was a chance for Racine Unified to do the right thing, remove all barriers in this regard, and fully invest in the summer education of its most disadvantaged students. These ESSER funds were allocated to be used for these purposes. Racine can always find funds to incarcerate black and brown children, hence the building of a new $45 million juvenile detention center, but never to properly education.

NAACP members left our meeting with RUSD disappointed, but not deterred. We were not happy, but we still have hope and will continue to advocate for our children.

The NAACP is calling on parents in Racine to rise up and stand with us, as we demand better educational opportunities and outcomes for our children. Racine Unified’s actions pertaining to this matter is an example of the institutional racism that is prevalent in the district. The District continues to produce policies, practices and outcomes that put their Black and brown students at a disadvantage as it pertains to their education, and this must change.

Black and brown children make up a majority of the RUSD’s student body, and when we fail them, we are failing the entire Racine community.

Yolanda Hodges is the education chair of the Racine Branch of the NAACP. Dwight Mosby is the president of the Racine Branch.

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