Black Network Leaders Challenge, Inspire, & Call Us to Action

The PIE Network team stands in support of Black leaders and Black communities, families, and students. It is time to end the systemic racism, dehumanization, and degradation that has led to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans across this country. PIE Network leaders fight for an excellent education for every student, in every community, and that fight is deeply entwined in a larger fight for freedom and racial justice to live up to our country’s highest ideals and aspirations.

It is inspiring to witness Network leaders pursue this fight for justice standing on front lines of protests, leading voter registration and turnout efforts, fighting for seats at the table (or setting new tables altogether) to shape critical policy decisions about students and schools that will disproportionately impact students of color. And we know this fight is uniquely challenging for Network leaders of color.

To Black leaders in the Network, we see you. We hear you. We support you. PIE Network is committed to supporting and amplifying your voice and your leadership.

Black leaders across the Network call on us all to examine, learn, change, and do the work to truly live up to our shared mission of justice, freedom, and a future in which every student, from every community, has the opportunities and experiences to achieve a future without limits.

Here is just a sampling of links and excerpts of their work to challenge, inspire, and call us to action.

Andréa Comer, Educators for Excellence-Connecticut: “My husband entered law enforcement for the same reason I work in education—to effect change from within.”


Atnre Alleyne, DelawareCAN: “I want to write about the need for white allies to not just ask what they need to DO but what they need to UNDO.”


Derrell Bradford, 50CAN: “Black lives matter, and black education matters, because everyone’s freedom matters. And only when black folks are safe to both learn and live will all Americans be free.”


Ebony Chisholm, Educators for Excellence-Connecticut: “While this isn’t the first time we have watched innocent black men and women murdered, and while it will not be the last, this time it unearthed something inside of me that I have never felt before: a mother’s instinct of fear and rage.”


Elisha Smith Arrillaga, The Education Trust-West: “Amid the pain and anguish of the past two weeks, I have drawn tremendous hope and inspiration from the young people of color who are leading a long-overdue national reckoning with the consequences of systemic racism in America.”


John B. King, Jr., The Education Trust: “Our obligation is to live for the generations ahead of us. That’s what it really means to be worthy of the legacy of those who came before us.


Jonah Edelman, Stand for Children: “This is the essence of our position – stop funding policing, which hurts Black students and doesn’t make schools safer, and redirect those funds to staff and programs that lift up Black students and make schools safer and more just.”


Josh Crosson, EdAllies MN: “Now is the time for allies of young people to show up—to avoid the urge to look away from the pain, and ask what we can do next.”


Karega Rausch, National Association of Charter School Authorizers: “The intensity of this moment will fade over time. As individual citizens and as authorizing leaders with tremendous power in shaping schools and lives, our central leadership question is this: What is our responsibility to create enduring change?”


Kenya Bradshaw, TNTP: “Though we cling to the American story of promise and possibility for all who work hard, we are, in truth, failing to provide the educational springboard for young people to succeed.”


Khalilah Harris, Center for American Progress: “Using federal and state funds to reinstate a broken public school system that has operated against all concepts of equity is the wrong approach.”


Kira Tookes, Association of American Educators: “The world is finally realizing that we have to require more of our leaders to end this vicious cycle of oppression, death and destruction.”

Maya Bugg, Tennessee Charter School Center: “We stand with those who work to dismantle systems of injustice and inequity, and we denounce the systemic racism that has created achievement and opportunity gaps throughout generations of communities of color.”


Maya Martin Cadogan, PAVE: “What we need in this moment is neither platitudes or pleasantries, but, rather, collective action: an acknowledgement of our shared grief and in service of our shared growth as a community.”


Nathan Hoffman, Empower Illinois: “When we have the conversations I expect we will have about police reform, I hope the same coalition will support reforms to our education system that will provide more Black students access to the same schools that White, well-connected and well-endowed families are able to send their children to.”


Paula White, Educators for Excellence-New York: “We have yet to see a just society for all. To change that amidst polarization and unrest, we must embrace honesty, reach out to Black educators to offer support, and organize and advocate for African Americans at large.”

Sarah Iddrissu, Educators for Excellence-Boston: “The truth is that educational opportunity for all cannot happen without working to eradicate systemic racism.”


Shavar Jeffries, Democrats for Education Reform: “The racism that killed George Floyd and so many others is the same racism that denies equity to Black people in virtually every domain of American life, from economic opportunity to healthcare access to the cause to which I’ve devoted most of my professional life: educational equity.”


Toya Fick, Stand for Children Oregon: “I was standing on the stage talking to colleagues when a student walked up to me and asked if I would take a selfie with him… It was not because I am a celebrity. It was because I am Black, and so was he.”


Did we miss a leader or recent piece? Let us know.

Jen Alexander

Jen Alexander

Jen Alexander is Executive Director of the PIE Network. For over 20 years, Jen has worked at the national, state, and local level to bridge gaps between education policy, politics, and practice to make sure that all children get a great public education regardless of race, zip code or family income.