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Black organizations host town halls on the state of Black education in Austin ISD

Leaders spoke about ways to improve student performance, equity issues and educational disparities.

AUSTIN, Texas — Four Black, Texas-based organizations hosted State of Black Education town hall meetings in Austin ISD on Wednesday, July 27, and Saturday, Aug. 6.

The Austin Area Urban League, Black Leaders Collective, East Austin Coalition for Quality Education and Austin Branch NAACP hosted the meetings to provide families and community members with an opportunity to voice concerns and develop solutions to address the educational disparities within the Black community.

The groups focused their discussions on Austin ISD and their "lagging student performance," according to a release.

"We're seeing that children are faring the lowest in some of these statewide testing pieces," said Terry Mitchell, Black Leaders Collective founder. "They're also, you know, dropping out at higher rates. We're here to work with AISD to understand exactly what is happening and how to reverse some of these negative trajectories."

Austin ISD Interim Superintendent Anthony Mays spoke at both meetings and was joined by other AISD administrators.

The first meeting's talking points were titled "A Tale of Two Districts: District 1 Performance" and "This is How we Do it: Who Can Actually Educate Our Children?" The second one focused on barriers to learning, the mass departure of Black teachers and the need for culturally sensitive professionals.

In Saturday's meeting, they spoke about the high teacher turnover rate and high rates of disciplinary action among Black students.

Quincy Dunlap with Austin Area Urban League offered some solutions to improve student safety and testing scores.

"Diversification of afterschool service providers," said Dunlap. "There's a bunch of good service providers here in Austin that are Black-led and Black-focused. I think is important that the students see themselves represented in the extracurricular and co-curricular activities. There needs to be a diversification of teachers that stick around to teach AP courses."

Dunlap also suggested expanding the district budget for equity issues.

The meetings had both in-person and virtual options and featured a school supply drive as well as distribution.

"I think that this is the first of many to come," added Mitchell. "It gives us hope that we are moving in the right direction toward truly finding solutions to these issues."

For more information on the town hall meetings, visit the Black Leaders Collective website.

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