In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Connecticut has taken the bold step of exposing the state’s inequities and identifying racism as a public health crisis. “The time is now to address this crisis,” CEA President Jeff Leake told legislators during a public hearing today.
Senate leaders and members of the Public Health Committee introduced SB 1, which includes the first-ever legislation aimed at eliminating systemic racism in our state, ensuring all residents and students, regardless of race, have equal opportunities to succeed.
“We believe that to achieve racial and social justice, we must acknowledge and identify the practices that deny rights, opportunities, and equality,” said Leake. “We praise Senate leaders and members of the Public Health Committee for taking this first important step to recognize that institutional racism is a public health crisis and demand changes to policies, programs, and practices that condone or ignore unequal treatment based upon race.”
The pandemic has further exacerbated deep economic disparities in our state, including a lack of funding for critical services that disproportionately impact people of color. COVID-19 has magnified stark racial and health disparities, especially for our Black and brown residents who are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at a much greater rate than their white peers.
“Combating racism, erasing inequities, and advancing racial justice are critical to every aspect of our society, including education, housing, medical care, law enforcement, and more,” said Leake. “In too many of our cities and towns, years of systemic racism and unconscious bias have limited opportunities for Connecticut families and students, contributing to the growing education gap, which our teachers see firsthand. We must all support efforts to achieve racial equity through proactive and preventative measures, especially in our schools, so that every child has access to equitable, high-quality education.”
CEA and its members have a deep and long-standing commitment to human rights, social justice, and equity and are committed to eradicating the institutional racism that strips so many students of opportunities. Educators do all they can to ensure that our schools are safe, caring environments that help all students reach their full potential.
Emphasizing that SB 1 An Act Equalizing Comprehensive Access to Mental, Behavioral, and Physical Health Care in Response to the Pandemic is “an important and much-needed measure to help us achieve equity and social justice in our state,” Leake testified, “We strongly urge its passage.”