NAACP Director of Education Innovation and Research, Dr. Ivory Toldson, Releases Statement on Secretary Miquel Cardona's Meeting with NAACP State Education Chairs.
On February 28, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona convened with NAACP State Conference education chairs to confront pressing matters facing Black communities in education. This timely meeting was especially relevant given the recent state-wide efforts challenging the crucial role of Black history and diversity, equity, and inclusion policies within our school systems. In many ways, this is a historic occasion that can put the United States on track to creating a long-overdue educational system rooted in equity and justice – something America sorely needs at this time.
NAACP Board Chairman Leon Russell and National Education Committee Chair Adora Nweze spoke passionately on this issue, emphasizing the urgent need to increase access to education and ensure that all individuals have a chance to reach their full potential. Through their timely and meaningful remarks, they set a strong precedent for the valuable mission of broadening our educational system so that no one is held back due to lack of resources or opportunity.
The NAACP state chairs requested the Secretary of Education to take action to diversify the educator workforce, address issues with SNAP funds, and collaborate between federal agencies like ED and HHS to ensure access from early through post-secondary learners. This is especially important now as systemic attacks against diverse curricula have created a barrier for Black students. Secretary Cardona expressed his enthusiasm for continuing to work with the NAACP at their recent meeting. He acknowledged the remarkable accomplishments and power of the Association to effect change, as well as validating the comments from members.
Secretary Cardona extolled the increased investment in HBCUs through the Hawkins Program and offered further suggestions for future meetings to thoroughly cover pointed topics discussed by State Chairs. Showing urgency and positivity, Secretary Cardona has set an important example for others to follow in regards to working with the NAACP.
The Secretary's unflinching commitment, as demonstrated in the meeting, was encouraging and necessary. With meaningful investments into initiatives that support upskilling opportunities, underrepresented communities will have the resources they need to not only challenge the disparities in education, but more importantly to seize the countless opportunities that come with a quality education. Only then can students of all backgrounds reach their full potential and leverage newfound knowledge on the path to success. It is the Department's unwavering obligation during this pivotal time to ensure those academic pursuits are attainable for all students.
We greatly appreciate the wise counsel and insights provided by the NAACP State Conference Education Chairs for this meeting: Kenann McKenzie - New England, Sandra LeConte – Illinois, Anne Keke - Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, James Yapias - Idaho, Nevada and Utah, Geraldine Hayes Nelson – Ohio, Tom Puryear - New Jersey, Christine Waters - New York, Kimberley Yancy - Texas, Barbara Dezmon – Maryland, Earl Watkins – Mississippi, Lawanda Wesley – California, Alexander - Oklahoma , Tamika Johnson-Wisconsin Sarah Greene – Florida, LaShanda Brown – Alabama, and Tia Mills-Louisiana. Their participation was invaluable in helping move our conference forward. We thank them for their thoughtful leadership.