The History of CARE
During the spring of 1997, Superintendent Dr. David Magill met with a group of concerned African American parents - Freda Outlaw, Crystal Blunt, Audrey Spence, Brenda Collins, and Morris Mosley - to discuss the concerns they had about the school experiences of African American students in the Lower Merion School District. Specifically, they were concerned that the District was not meeting the needs of the African American students and that the Black students were being disciplined at a disproportionate rate compared to their white counterparts. Additionally, they felt there was a lack of rigor for African American students, that there was an over identification of African American students in special education, an underrepresentation of African American students in gifted classes, and that not enough African American students were being encouraged to participate in school activities or encouraged to go on to college. After hearing their concerns, Dr. Magill met with a group of the District's African American educators to hear if their perspectives were similar. The staff supported the parents' concerns so Dr. Magill began meeting with the educators to continue the dialogue. By the end of the 1997 school year Dr. Magill expressed interest in continuing to meet with the parents and the educators to discuss ways to meet the needs of the students.
During the summer of 1997, a group of staff members met as a study group to research educating African American students. Many of the African American teachers knew that the strategies they used were successful, but did not have the documentation to support assumptions about the learning styles of African American students. Dr. Irene Bender, Assistant Superintendent, was assigned liaison between the parents and the professional staff during the summer. The group of African American parents and educators continued to meet in the fall of the 1997-98 school year at the home of school board member and parent, Dr. Freda Outlaw. The original study group expanded to include administrators, teachers, counselors, instructional support staff, school social worker, and parents and named itself the Committee Addressing Race in Education.
The Committee Addressing Race in Education (CARE) has been meeting monthly since 1997 and is currently composed of teachers, parents/guardians, community members and administrators. This advisory committee seriously and openly discusses how race influences the educational program in the Lower Merion School District. CARE continues to be a communication vehicle for discussing these important topics and for advising the school district in the development of plans to meet the needs of all of our children. Topics of discussion continue to focus on understanding the underlying causes of the achievement gap as well as recommending strategies for closing the gap.