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Letter From Panorama Education's CEO: Our Stand Against Systemic Racism

Panorama's Stand Against Systemic Racism

Panorama is a company that was founded on the idea that every student matters and that every child and adult deserves schools and a society that treat them as who they are—important, precious, and full of possibility. That is not yet the America we live in.

The America we live in is marred by a long history of racism and oppression against Black people that continues through the present. We are angered and heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd last week, yet another act of violence against a Black person in America, and yet another consequence of this long history of systemic racism in America.

This must change. As millions of people across the country stand up to protest this system of racism and oppression, we stand with them.

We say decisively: Black people matter. Black students matter. Black educators matter. Black teammates matter. Black lives matter.

We strongly denounce racism, and we commit to fighting against it. We commit to dismantling systemic racism, we commit to embodying and spreading anti-racist practices, and we commit to building systems of opportunity and possibility for students of color.

This is our responsibility to the students we serve, our promise to our teammates, and our duty as human beings.

As we attack racism, discrimination, and oppression, and work towards justice, equality, and opportunity, it is important to recognize who brings power and privilege to the fight. As an individual, I do; as a company, we do. It is our mandate and our obligation to use it. Specifically, as a company, we must focus our efforts in two areas:

  1. Education represents one of the most important levers for change in America. At worst, our education system can perpetuate oppression and injustice, withholding opportunity from children of marginalized communities, and allowing racism to continue unchecked. At best, our education system can combat racism, open up opportunities for children, and help every student take pride in their identity. We now serve 10 million students and 1,500 school districts. That puts us in a unique position to make change to our institutions through our partnership with school districts. Important areas of impact include student voice, social-emotional learning and mental health, anti-racism practices, diversity and inclusion practices, equitable MTSS and behavior practices, conversations around race and identity, recruiting and supporting teachers of color, and systemic approaches to equity. This school year will be an especially important moment for racial equity in education, as our nation’s children begin to recover from a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in American society. I'd encourage you to read this message and call to action from Dr. D’Andre Weaver, Superintendent of DeSoto ISD, one of our clients. Let me repeat his words, “A reimagined education system is our antiracist protest.”
  2. As we build our company, we have an opportunity to build an organization that values, embodies, and furthers diversity, equity, and inclusion. Panorama is one corner of the world that we control. I believe that Panorama must be a company where diversity thrives and is celebrated, a company where all team members feel included and supported, and a company with equitable opportunities for all. When we see racism and oppression toward Black Americans outside our walls, we must redouble our commitment to making Panorama a place where our Black teammates thrive. We must increase Black representation among our managers, create additional leadership development opportunities, and launch employee resource groups. We must increase equity in our practices, including around internal opportunities, performance, and career pathing. Over the past five years, we have made progress around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we also have made mistakes, and fallen short. This moment reminds us how much work we have left to do, especially in support of our Black teammates. This moment challenges us to accelerate our commitment. In March, we brought on board our first Head of DEI and we will be launching our next DEI strategy later this month.

This will be the first time in our history that we have made a formal public statement. Traditionally, I have preferred that we speak through our impact on the ground in schools (or let our schools speak on behalf of our work), and I have been skeptical of organizations that issue statements in lieu of concrete action. However, this moment demands both, and our voice is itself a tool of action. Conversely, silence is complicity.

I believe that significant change is possible. We have an opportunity to help build a radically improved education system, one where every Black student thrives. We have an opportunity to make Panorama a beacon of diversity, equity, and inclusion, where every Black teammate feels supported, included and has the opportunity to succeed. Let us use our power to do so. 

 

Aaron Feuer

CEO and Co-Founder
Panorama Education

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Many Panorama districts have reached out to us over the past week for recommended resources for their educators. Here are five external resources to support educators, students, and families in the coming weeks:

  • Chicago Public Schools has shared Say their Names, a toolkit to help foster productive conversations about race and civil disobedience.
  • Facing History and Ourselves provides a guide for teachers to help students process the trauma of George Floyd’s death and understand how events of the past have led to this moment.
  • Kiara Butler and Diversity Talks is offering a two-part virtual training to educate white people on engaging in racial equity conversations and taking action against racial inequity.
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