Fund for Teachers mourns the murder of George Floyd and all who have suffered because of systemic racism, injustice, and violence; we are outraged. Our collective hearts are broken, and spirits challenged. We recognize that diversity of thought, culture, and skills are essential for our community. Fund for Teachers stands committed to our mission of supporting teachers as change makers. All of us can and must do more. We will work with our teachers, partners, board, and staff to meet this challenge.
America is in a deep crisis. We believe that in a family, a school, a foundation or in a community, each voice is unique and important to the strength of the body. It is in listening for understanding to others as they speak their hearts and minds that we can truly find our own.
We acknowledge that there are no words that can take away the pain that we are all feeling, however, words can guide us to action. We share those of the members of our Board of Directors:
– From Fund for Teachers Board of Directors –
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have brought us to a righteous boiling point, but the anguish and pain have been with us for centuries, simmering in the daily injustices we suffer. These senseless killings, and related incidents like the encounter in Central Park, upset us not only as an empathetic human, but also because they are needless, painful reminders of indignities citizens of color face daily.
Peggy Brookins, President and CEO
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Like so many Americans, I am hurting. The appalling death of George Floyd has made painfully visible the injustices Black people have experienced far too often for years and years and years. Mr. Floyd’s death is not a singular event; various versions of it-- Ahmaud Aubery, Ed Johnson, Medgar Evans, Breonna Taylor--have taken place across our nation for centuries. This brutality and injustice must stop. Each of us and all of us must speak up. But words of support or outrage are not enough. Each of us and all of us must act-- in our neighborhoods, our communities, our workplaces, our churches, and at the voting booth.
Fund for Teachers provides outstanding teachers with opportunities to learn and deepen their understanding of the world. If you are reading this, you are most likely an extraordinary teacher committed to preparing the next generation of leaders we so desperately need. Thank you.
Dan Challener, President
Jane Elliot, noted race educator, often asks her white audiences, "Stand, if you would trade places with a black person." No one in all the decades that she has been doing her trainings ever does. She then proceeds to tell the audience that this is indicative of what they already know about race, advantage, justice, access to education, housing, and equal opportunity. It's a stunning admission to swallow. What was it then about the death of George Floyd that galvanized a nation to protest racial injustice and inequity and say, "No more". I think for us it was the horror in realizing that our silence in ways big and small made us complicit in what had happened to George Floyd and countless others. Through inaction we helped maintain a culture or domination, oppression, and injustice, and made it possible for the officers in Minneapolis to feel they could act in the way that they did with impunity. That is no longer tolerable. The role of education is to bring historical truth into the classroom and to give students the understanding and experiences they need to be brave and to confront and correct injustice in the world. FFT must support the actions, language and values that support the "inalienable rights" of all and make our country worthy of respect and admiration. We must see that as our mission and we must, in our everyday actions, interrupt injustice wherever we see it. Fund for Teachers can play a crucial role in fortifying teachers with the tools they need to bring justice to their classrooms through the ways they teach, the materials they present and the mandate they empower their students with to "Be the Change". It is what we are all mandated to do in all ways that we can. We have no other choice if we are to preserve our humanity.
Dottie Engler, Director
Actions are more important than words. Statements of solidarity with Black people who've long suffered from the virulence of deep, systemic racism and unconscionable acts of violence, including murder, at the hands of law enforcement are valuable insofar as they commit the authors to greater action to create change. That's my pledge. Teachers have an obligation to to teach the truth. Fund for Teachers is committed to supporting those in the classroom who have the opportunity to address, on a daily basis, the plague of racism.
John Gulla, Executive Director
The Edward E. Ford Foundation
Fund for Teachers is an organization that invests in extraordinary teachers that impact, shape and nurture our precious future generations. Now more than ever, teachers have a momentous challenge before them to shift the trajectory of injustice and help heal the plague of systemic racism, discrimination, intolerance and marginalization. As always, teachers will rise to the challenge and Fund for Teachers will be there to support them to enable the change that is necessary for our communities.
Kate M. Kraycirik, Director
The senseless death of George Floyd underscores the importance of education. Giving our children insight into the world they live. Supporting educators that will help them become leaders, activists and advocates to ensure this stops. We should continue to ensure we provide opportunities for those making a difference and leverage our platform to amplify the message of inclusion.
Chris Santiago, CEO
MT Salon Holdings
"The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me." Those words of Frederick Douglass in 1852 addressing what the Fourth of July means to a slave could very well be the words of George Floyd today, had George Floyd still have breath to speak, had George Floyd not had the life senselessly and brutally choked out of him by a white police officer. Despite progress as to civil rights, it is clear that we, as a nation, are still failing to live up to our proclaimed, foundational belief that all men are created equal, with certain unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Until we protect and provide opportunity to all people without regard to the color of their skin, we continue to fail. Act in love; act in tolerance; engage in advocacy for reform and true justice, liberty, and equal treatment under the law.
Jennie R. Smith, Attorney
Law Office of Robert S. Hoffman, P.L.L.C.
As my heart has been broken over and over this week, I have found comfort in Arundhati Roy's recent writing. She writes that "[h]istorically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it." We all know that the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have converged on this moment, shaping the portal we now all face. What are we willing to carry, and what will we fight for?
Teachers always sit at the boundary between two worlds. They share knowledge of the old world so that the next generation can give birth to the new. This time is no different, and it yet feels so fraught with expectation. Finally, we have the opportunity to begin a great sloughing off of the things that have bound us since before our nation’s very beginning. We have always de-valued Black lives. We have always let white people order society to maintain their hold on privilege, even if it means further de-valuing the lives and voices of people of color. If we choose to drag these carcasses into the new world, we lose a chance to birth something more beautiful, more free. Teachers who have seen the world as it truly is and inquired deeply about what they know and how they came to know it are best positioned to help our children do the same. They can still act as midwives to new ways of being, still demand that we examine what world we will drag through the portal. They can still ask us whether we will fight for the liberation of all human beings, especially our Black brothers and sisters.
It's hard to believe in anything these days, but I still believe in teachers. I think Fund for Teachers still gives teachers the best ways to know the world as it is, so they can usher in what might be.
Doannie Tran, Fellow
Center for Innovation in Education
The murder of George Floyd underscores how pervasive and destructive racism against Black people is in throughout American institutions, including K-12 education. Fund for Teachers mission statement is, "Fund for Teachers strengthens instruction by investing in outstanding teachers' self-determined professional growth and development in order to support student success, enrich their own practice, and strengthen their schools and communities." I believe that one way to confront and disrupt the historical and systemic racism targeting Black students is through professional growth and development. This type of professional growth and learning is essential so that racist systems can be dismantled and all students, most specifically Black students, can achieve success.
Jonas Zuckerman, Director