Tell Betsy DeVos That We Need to Be Honest about Institutional Racism


“Punishing black students and white students differently for the same behavior in a way that’s measurable across the entire system is literally the definition of institutional racism.” – Nicole Baker Fulgham

The facts are clear. Black students are three times more likely than white students to be expelled or suspended for the exact same behavior. Treating students differently based on the color of their skin is the literal definition of institutional racism. So why won’t our U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, call it what it is?

Nicole Baker Fulgham, founder of the Hope for Students movement, has written an open letter asking the Secretary to reconsider her position.

We’re asking you to add your name to the letter. We’ll hand-deliver it to the Department of Education and let Secretary DeVos know that people of faith want an honest conversation about institutional racism in our schools’ discipline policies.

Dear Secretary DeVos,

As a fellow person of faith and advocate for educational equity, we share a belief that all God’s children deserve a high-quality education regardless of the zip code they live in, money their parents make, or color of their skin. That’s why I’m so disappointed with your comments on 60 Minutes regarding the racial justice implications of school discipline.

Research from your own Department of Education shows African-American students are three times more likely than their white peers to be expelled or suspended, and that these disparities are not explained by more frequent or serious misbehavior by students of color.

When given the opportunity to endorse the idea that these disparities represent “institutional racism” you declined, saying rather that “all of this comes down to individual kids.”

Respectfully, punishing African-American and white students differently for the same behavior, in a way that is measurable across our entire system, is the very definition of institutional racism. If we don’t agree with this as a first-premise, or that we have a responsibility as people of faith to address it, finding the right solution will prove difficult.

Our scripture says we’re all created in the image of God and are, therefore, of equal and immeasurable worth in the eyes of our Creator. So when African-American kids in our schools are treated differently than white kids we should all be able to agree this is wrong.

I’m asking you to reconsider your position from a biblical perspective and commit to working together to ensure all students are treated equally.

Nicole Baker Fulgham
Founder, Hope for Students
President, The Expectations Project


March 16, 2018
The Expectations Project

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  1. You assume that the Secretary is a practicing Christian or has Christian principles. How do you appeal to someone when they don’t have a background in education as well as being an elitist?

  2. It is time to acknowledgment the injustice of discrimination in our educational system as well as our justice system. It is only honorable and godly to stand for what is right and admirable to fight for what is respectful in the sight of God Almighty. Let’s reevaluate our values as leaders and stand in right relationship with God on behalf of all of His children. He is sovereign and we will all have to give account to how we represented Him as it relates to His creation. We have a choice to decide whom we may serve. Choose God, He does not sleep nor slumber. We will be judged, God will not be mocked.

  3. White kids know that they will not be punished the same as our Black children and they provoke our kids to act out. It is done on purpose and promoted by white parents. The white parents (some) teach hate at home, even now in the 21st century. In this new milenium, I hoped that we, as Americans, could leave Racism in the 20th century. But no, let white America make this country great again. Thats exactly what is means. Let’s go back to Jim Crow and blatant racisum by allowing the kkk to operate openly against people of color. Any color different than Pink Skin!!!!!

  4. I Graduated in 1972 at Carol Gables Sr high in MIAMI FL, I was suspended for call a white female classmate a cracker, because she call me the N word she didn’t get suspended at all the teacher was RACIST he didn’t like BLACKS.

  5. I witness this upfront in schools!! I was a private school teacher, charter and substitute in a prominent district where I witnessed the disproportionate amount of punishments or school disciplinary actions between blacks and whites!! I am earning a Doctorate in Educational Leadership!!! I hope to eliminate institutional racism within school districts!!!

  6. I taught 1st grade in a predominantly black school in 1968. I am white and and loved those kids! I never had a problem with the black boys, only two white boys were sent to the principal frequently.

  7. It should be the same for the black student’s as it is for the white student’s there shouldn’t be a difference

  8. Thank you my sister in Christ. For standing in the gap for all believers who stand on the word of GOD. Racism should not be in the Church