HCM Deepens Commitment to Elevating Racial Justice and Equitable Outcomes in EducationBy HCM Staff -
As COVID-19 continues to impact students, teachers, families, colleges, and universities across the country, HCM Strategists is working to provide essential thought leadership on the range of issues in the field of education.
Our expert policy staff has launched a new series to identify emerging education policy ideas and practices aimed at addressing COVID-19. Stay tuned for more in HCM’s new series addressing COVID-19 concerns in education, and use #EdAfterCOVID19 to join the conversation on social media. Read more.
The brutal murder of George Floyd, yet another Black life lost at the hands of police, rightfully brought the nation to a boiling point of outrage and unrest. This tragedy, building upon months of disparate and inequitable impacts of COVID-19 on low-income communities, and historically marginalized communities of color elevated awareness of the structural and systemic racism still present in our country. Like many others, HCM Strategists (HCM) took the time to reflect on our work and within ourselves. As a staff, we shared our grief and outrage. As an organization, we rededicated ourselves to our commitment to advance equity and social justice through education.
HCM understands the opportunities education can afford and the role it can play improving the economic and social mobility for all students and especially communities of color. We have always been committed to improving equity in education through sound public policy and practice, from early education to the workforce. As an organization, we acknowledge our country has fundamentally failed a significant portion of our nation’s students. Achievement and opportunity gaps between Black and low-income students and their white peers continue to persist after decades of efforts to close them. From access to preschool to K-12 schools providing adequate resources and rigor, to affordable postsecondary options that foster prosperity and the ability to secure high wage jobs, the educational system is stacked with systemic barriers for students of color. This only leads us to conclude that the system requires total transformation. We can no longer afford to work on reforms around the margins of a traditional education system that leaves far too many behind.
Our job at HCM is to understand and then provide solutions to fix policies and practices that are fundamentally unfair or cause disparate effects. That is why HCM has and will always work to critically evaluate education through an equity lens and amplify our voice and the ones that have been shouting for justice for decades.
At HCM, we believe that educators, public servants and policymakers have a special duty to engage in these necessary conversations. This means that all who engage in public policy have to be especially vigilant in not only trying to understand structural or systemic racism but also working as agents of change to create anti-racist institutions and systems.
What does that require? We must confront our complicated history — including institutions’ role in exacerbating racism — and take stock of the present. We must actively examine long-standing policies and practices within our organizations, institutions and systems that we take for granted as the “default” or standard way of operating. We must be committed to questioning whether particular policies serve students well or poorly.
Not explicitly calling out racism has allowed it to persist. Moving forward, HCM will not hesitate or mince words when addressing the systemic racism in education that causes continued inequities for students of color. As a firm, HCM advises and supports cross-sector leaders from education, government, philanthropy, the nonprofit sector and business community who share our mission to transform learning.
HCM will continue to push for policy solutions such as access to broadband internet and devices as a basic need in today’s world for all students. We will continue to fight to ensure that schools are held accountable for all students’ learning through high expectations and public transparency. We will work to ensure that all students have access to high-quality teachers and learning experiences. We will continue to work to advance equitable state finance policies that ensure resources are directed toward schools and colleges that serve students of color and high need populations. We will continue to advocate for states to invest in robust student financial aid programs and to provide affordable postsecondary opportunities. We will continue to shine a light on the barriers that prevent students from navigating an unnecessarily complicated system within and between postsecondary institutions that harm the most disadvantaged and prevents success. Our work will aim to generate positive outcomes in education for those in need, especially students of color who have suffered from a racist system for far too long. We will continue to work with institutions and organizations individually as they start their transformation to being anti-racist entities.
HCM has an extensive history and portfolio of equity-focused work that we will continue to build on. We acknowledge that being an anti-racist organization is an ongoing process for those of us who do the work and those of us who are starting the work. To do our part to propel equitable conversations and policies forward, we will be bolder in the work that we do across our firm.
This work is hard, and to be done well, requires much-needed, continual reflection. As we work with and on behalf of clients to elevate racial justice and equitable outcomes across the education landscape, we know it is equally as important to apply this lens inwardly. HCM’s internal focus will continue to provide the space and supports needed to have difficult conversations and to reflect on race. We will work to support each other to ensure we do what is necessary to prepare ourselves individually and collectively to do this work. We are committed to continually improving our own internal culture for equity, diversity and inclusion. We will hold one another accountable for continuing to be a part of bi-partisan solutions that measurably improve all Americans’ lives through more equitable educational outcomes.