For the past week, we have been confronted with the pain and anguish being experienced by communities across the country, especially our Black communities. This pain and anguish is not new. Last week, yet another Black man, George Floyd, fell victim to unjust and brutal police practices that have become all too familiar in Black communities across the country. We are also aware of the devastation being visited upon Black and Brown communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which primarily stems from institutional racism and economic injustice. As is often the case, there is a lot of focus on the plight of Black and Brown communities until the next “special” episode occurs. Unfortunately, the oppressive and precarious lives of Black people and communities are not a reality show conjured up by the sensitive, weak, or lazy, but by the lived experiences of Black people who are still being oppressed through systems, policies, and inaction.

As an organization that was founded with a social justice mission to provide a great start in life for children who were less likely to have equal and equitable opportunities in their early years, HighScope stands with #BlackLivesMatter. The HighScope Educational Research Foundation is well known for the Perry Preschool Study that first established the lasting human and financial value of early childhood education. This landmark study in 1962, following 123 Black children born in poverty, is the shoulder we stand on, and the basis of HighScope’s vision to change the trajectory of the world, one child at a time.
We stand in solidarity with the Black community, which includes countless numbers of children, families, educators, community leaders, and programs. HighScope is committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, language, or zip code has the best opportunity to live and to be healthy and successful. Every Black child deserves the opportunity to live and to be healthy and successful.

As a society, we are raising the future police force, and this means that we have to ensure that these public servants are prepared to see the value of each individual’s life and contribution regardless of their race. Our children are our future, and it is up to us to ensure they are judged not just by their knowledge of their ABCs, but by “the content of their character,” as stated so eloquently by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are raising the future generation and must make certain that we are not repeating the wrongs of our fathers and mothers by raising future oppressors. The early years do matter. What we decide to do today matters. Every breath we take today matters.

As part of our 50-year anniversary celebration, we hosted a national conversation with Stacey Abrams on May 13th focused on elevating the importance and value of high-quality education and its workforce. Ms. Abrams reminded us that each of us plays a role in making early education the best it can be for those who work in the field and for the children and families they serve. Those words are still echoing in our heads and hearts — “SPEAK UP, SHOW UP, and STAND UP.” Early childhood started with standing up for justice and a fair start for our children. What will it take for each of us to stand for justice and fairness now?

We stand strong with all of our communities, especially our Black communities and other marginalized groups of color. We will continue to speak up, show up, and stand up for our children, families, communities, and workforce through our commitment to equitable early learning experiences and a fair and just start in life for all of our children. Our destiny is tethered to how we treat those who need us the most.

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