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Lexington Commission for Racial Justice and Equality discuss how to dismantle barriers in education

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 17, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Lexington Commission for Racial Justice and Equality’s Education and Economic Opportunity Subcommittee met Friday morning to continue discussing recommendations to eradicate systematic racism in Fayette County.

The commission has less than two months to present recommendations to city leaders.

Recommendations are being discussed and polished currently, with the meeting encompassing multiple topics.

Education was the dominating conversation during Friday’s meeting. Committee members addressed topics of access to early childhood education, the efficiency of standardized testing and bridging the state’s achievement gap long-term.

The question of how to recruit more educators who identify as minorities was also brought up. The University of Kentucky’s College of Education’s Dr. Jennifer Grisham-Brown offered the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators year as an item of concern.

“That test right there has prevented countless numbers of minority students from being able to be teachers, and it’s abhorrent to me,” said Grisham-Brown.

The Praxis Core test evaluates individuals for entry into teacher education programs. After graduation, educators still need to pass their certification exams before stepping into a classroom.

Grisham-Brown argues the Praxis Core test is “biased” and a “gatekeeper” which keeps minority students who statistically don’t do as well as their non-ethnic counterparts from entering education careers before they can begin pursuing them.

“If they can't pass the test at the end, I don't think they should be teachers, but that's not the problem with our folks. It’s the problem of getting in in the first place,” Grisham-Brown said.

Another point of discussion was the impact a lack of representation in the educator pool can have on the student learning experience.

“If a student of color doesn't see themselves in the curriculum, you know, where can they attach to and how can they create a vision for themselves within our community?” said Erin Howard with the Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

Howard promoted the development of curriculum that showcases multicultural perspectives throughout the entirety of the school year.

The next Education and Economic Opportunities subcommittee meeting will be held Friday, July 24 at 1 p.m.