Christiansburg, Va. — The New River Valley Chapter of Virginia Organizing and the Montgomery County – Radford City – Floyd County Branch of the NAACP hosted an Education Justice Forum on Saturday, March 2 at Christiansburg Public Library. More than 40 community members came together to discuss local education issues in Montgomery County.
“I was so proud that students were willing to share their thoughts and, most importantly, their experiences with education issues,” says Virginia Organizing member and Christiansburg parent, Tamara Cherry-Clarke. “They matter, they are our future, they are the leaders of tomorrow, they need us today.”
“Disparities exist at MCPS and we hope the administration is willing to finally bring that as a priority. There is a correlation between a student’s learning environment and their academic achievement,” Cherry-Clarke added.
The community forum was an initial effort on the part of both organizations to invite parents and students to lead discussions on issues of equity and inclusion in education. Participants began the day hearing from community leaders about efforts to improve local schools. Afterwards, the large group split up into four caucuses: a parent caucus, a student caucus, a caucus for MCPS employees and former educators, and a caucus for community members. Each group was tasked with reflecting on personal experiences and sharing their ideas for change.
“I was excited to see the community come together to talk about education. The students were so brave in sharing their stories, and the parents and community members were right there to support them,” says Virginia Organizing member and Blacksburg resident, Brandy Faulkner.
Virginia Organizing believes that people who are closest to an issue are also closest to its solutions, but are typically not closest to the power to make change. The group will continue to center the voices of parents and students in efforts to create education justice. Local chapter members will identify strategies for improving our schools based upon the ideas shared in the forum, and will actively work toward those improvements as a caring community of diverse stakeholders.
To interview a spokesperson about this event, contact Andrae Hash at email@example.com or (540) 320-7204.