Imagine being a high school student punished simply for refusing to cut the dreadlocks you’ve been growing for years. Or put yourself in the shoes of a student sweating — but still expected to learn — in a hot classroom without air conditioning or proper ventilation. Or maybe your local school is understaffed due to the nationwide teacher shortage, and there’s no one to teach special education, science, math, or foreign languages.
These are just some of the racial inequity-based realities President Joe Biden may have been thinking of when he created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.
“Our nation’s schools and communities are irrefutably strengthened by the success, scholarship, and tenacity of Black students of all ages,” Biden said in his proclamation announcing the effort. “But our nation must go further to finally root out systemic barriers in our schools.”
The 21-member commission — which was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris in late October — is housed in the U.S. Department of Education. It’s charged with advising the Biden administration on the “development, implementation, and coordination of educational programs and initiatives to improve opportunities for Black Americans.”