For many years, SERC has publicly addressed institutionalized racism and its impact on our educational system. In our 2011 report, “Equity in Education: A Transformational Approach,” we wrote, “For centuries, we have avoided discussing institutionalized racism and its detrimental effects on our students of color as well as their white peers…. Conversations about race and culture are not meant to be easy, but without them we will never begin to understand the root causes of our racial disparities and challenge our current thinking.”
It is with this commitment to confronting institutionalized and structural racism that we approach the current Executive Order suspending immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the immigration raids that have taken place across the country, and the most recent deportation memos. We refer first to our nondiscrimination policy, which states that “no person shall be discriminated against or excluded from participation in any SERC programs or activities on the basis of race, color, language, religion, age, marital or civil union status, national origin, ancestry, sex/gender, intellectual disability, physical disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.” We would not truly commit to this policy of serving everyone if we accepted discrimination that would prevent certain individuals from being here in the first place. So by extension, we believe discrimination on any of these bases in any context has no place in a society in which we are working toward social justice and equity.
Connecticut reflects a rich tapestry of people from all over the world. Many of our schools, in urban, suburban, and rural communities alike, serve students speaking dozens of different languages and families practicing many faiths. It is this diversity that makes our educational system, and all the children, educators, and families in it, an enriched asset because it represents the true essence and reality of our country. As with conversations on institutionalized racism, confronting discrimination in any form is necessary to understand the causes of the persistent inequity that still exists. SERC continues to discuss these issues openly, and we are committed to actively deepening our continued support of all those in the community working toward creating safe and accepting learning environments within a safe and accepting world. We call on our state and our country to do the same.