Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition to Hold Rally for 'Safe, Equitable and Anti-Racist Reopening' of Schools

The rally will be held at noon on Friday, June 19 outside of the Board of Education building on Burnet Avenue

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The Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition (CEJC) is holding a rally from noon-1 p.m. Friday, June 19 in front of the Board of Education building at 2651 Burnet Ave. in Mt. Auburn to demand increased education about racism, increased funding for school and equity for children.

A press release about the rally said that the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black citizens at the hands of police in recent years have put systemic racism on display, and that COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on working class and BIPOC communities has shown the lack of a social safety net. 

“Amidst all of this, public education, one of the remaining hopes for racial justice, advancement, democracy and community is being targeted with budget cuts during a crisis of historic proportions,” the release reads.

Cincinnati Public Schools have undergone a $8.7 million cut in state funding this year, according to an Ohio Department of Education press release. Schools statewide have lost over $300 million.

According to its website, the CEJC is “a coalition of parents, community, faith and labor organizations, civic organizations and concerned citizens who are committed to ensuring every child has access to a public school system that provides an equitable and quality education in a positive learning environment.”

The coalition advocates for the end of public education privatization, fair funding for public schools, more teaching, less testing and “a culture of collaboration and democracy at all schools.” 

During the rally, the CEJC plans to share several demands including these three bullet points, provided in the release: 

  • Students who are being evicted or are hungry can’t learn - schools must not re-open and allow “business as usual” until the basic needs of our students, their families, and our workers are met. The lack of affordable housing, evictions and cuts to safety net services only cause further inequity.
  • The City of Cincinnati funds “SRO’s” in our schools. How can we invest in trauma informed approaches, and restorative and culturally responsive practices to proactively create safety at schools? Schools must divest from police, security, surveillance, and other punitive approaches which make students of color less safe. We can divest from policing and invest in the things we need - equitable funding for social workers, nurses, counselors, etc.
  • Schools can include education to counter anti-Black racism in our communities with changes to curriculum, staff training on anti-racism, and recruiting more teachers who reflect the communities in which they teach.

Specifically, the CEJC is also asking that enough protective products like masks and sanitizer be provided by schools and that they implement protocols to keep students and teachers safe when schools reopens.

“We must have those PPE products in our schools at all times, but the question is how is that going to be divided up to the schools, and how often will they get the PPE products to be safe in school and to be safe on the buses, and how will that be funded?” said Marche Gendrew, a CEJC coordinator.

The CEJC is also critical of Cincinnati’s tax increment financing, which it claims is diverting money away from classrooms and instead to millionaires and corporate developers.

“We need to hold the city accountable for those particular funds because they’re being diverted in all the wrong places, except for our schools,” Gendrew said. 

The CEJC calls for Sen. Rob Portman to support the HEROES Act, a second round of economic stimulus passed in the House of Representatives that would provide almost $3 trillion in relief funding for Americans. The act has not yet been voted on by the Senate.

A portion of those funds would be diverted to schools to help provide more services for students, Gendrew said.

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