vast array of neighborhoods and schools in the county, these parents wanted to create a place to connect with and support one another, and to discuss the unique experience of raising a black child. However, in 2018, as these parents became more aware of the disparities and different types of inequity present in APS, they decided to transition to an advocacy group.
In recent months, Black Parents of Arlington has dedicated time and resources to gather information and statistics from the APS dashboard, and to visualize the different experiences of white and black students in APS. Disparities in discipline and gifted students programs are just a few of the issues the organization is tackling. Their numbers show that 40% of black students are disciplined more than white students. Only 21% of black students are asked to join the gifted students program, compared to 46% of white students. And the numbers increase in schools with a higher white population.
Black Parents of Arlington has utilized these numbers to create a plan that would create a more equitable and welcome environment for children like theirs. They have been working with the School Board, APS’ Superintendent, HR, and the Department of Teaching and Learning to develop new programs. They hope to create cultural competency and anti-racist trainings for all staff members, to hire more teachers of color, and increase the number of mental health professionals in schools, particularly those who cater to more diverse populations with higher rates of discipline. “We believe in what Arlington can do” said Kernodle, “APS is and can be the best, but it must be the best for all students.”
Kernodle and her organization are excited for the community to join them in their fight. “Those with black children and are interested in joining can reach out to me directly. We are here for them” says Kernodle. Black Parents of Arlington also welcome those without black children who are eager to lend support. They are soon beginning to hold virtual events for allies, working with organizations like
intentionally anti-racist life, to understand more about white privilege, and to discuss ways they can use that privilege for good. And of course, Black Parents of Arlington always welcomes donations (through their PayPal account, @bpofa), which they utilize to offer funding to children who do not have the means access tutoring, especially during a pandemic and virtual learning.
For more information about Black Parents of Arlington and additional ways to get involved, visit their website. Readers can also sign up to be a part of the Facing Race in Arlington email group and view their resource list.