Educators march on Georgia’s state capitol to say, ‘Kids’ Lives Matter’

Group wants the legislature to focus more resources on underserved children throughout the state

Educators for Black Lives Matter (MailChimp)

Black Lives Matter, but so do kids’.

This is precisely why a group of educators is pushing to “dismantle systemic racism” in Georgia schools.

Last Friday, teachers of all kinds gathered to march on the golden dome of Georgia State’s capitol. Their demands seem simple; to ask the legislature to focus more resources on underserved children throughout the state.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter protests have not caused increase in COVID-19 cases: research

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brittany O’Neal, a first-grade teacher, said that she thought of the “Kids’ Lives Matter” protest about two or three weeks ago. She then posted her idea on social media to gauge support for her brainchild.

There were many who were also concerned about students of color and leaped at the opportunity to organize real solutions to change how the education system is structured.

Claudine Miles, a former Atlanta charter school administrator turned educational consultant, worked with her to form a group called Civic Georgia and developed the concept of the Educators for Black Lives march.

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Despite the legislative session in Georgia ending and it being too late for elected officials to review their proposal, they did submit a list to be considered in the future.

The following are a list of demands from the Educators for Black Lives:

  • End “zero tolerance” discipline, and implement restorative justice.
  • Actively hire more Black teachers.
  • Mandate Black History and Ethnic Studies in K-12 curriculum with a social justice lens.
  • Fund more school counselors.
  • Invest in Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum & Training.
  • Redesign the school funding formula and while including stakeholder input (participatory budget).
  • Design well-rounded assessments instead of high-stakes testing.
  • Fund wrap-around service to support community needs (ie. food banks).

Students in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The advocates hope to bring awareness of the issues outside of the General Assembly. They hope their message will convey from the school boards to Congress, The AJC reported.

“We really believe there is power here to start a movement,” Miles said.

The group is getting backed by other civil rights organizations, including Atlanta Coalition for Educational Equity, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, and the NAACP.

Attorney Gerald Griggs, a leader of the Atlanta NAACP, marched alongside protesters. 

“The country is awakening to the issues of systemic racism,” he said.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter network establishes $12M grant fund

Griggs is best known for representing one of the educators during the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, which involved teachers and principals in the Atlanta Public Schools district who allegedly cheated on state-administered standardized tests in 2009 and subsequently went on trial between 2014 and 2015.

The two-hour-long march started at 3 p.m. at the south of downtown of Rosa L. Burney Park on Windsor Street. They made stops outside the city jail, the headquarters for Atlanta Public Schools, the Georgia Department of Education, and Atlanta City Hall before they arrived at the Liberty Plaza across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

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