Black Education In The Wake Of COVID-19 & Systemic Racism: Toward A Theory Of Change & Action

July 25, 2021

The Black Education Research Collective (BERC) is pleased to announce the release of its new report, Black Education in the Wake of COVID-19 & Systemic Racism: Toward a Theory of Change & Action.

This report presents initial findings from a larger study that aims to shed light on how COVID-19, the economic recession, and sustained levels of racial terrorism and trauma have affected the education of Black students in communities across the U.S.

The study confirmed what many already knew about the grave injustices associated with racism in all of its forms, and how the conditions in education are not getting better, but are in fact getting worse in the wake of COVID-19 and increasing acts of racial violence.

The Study

Data was collected between January-May 2021 using a national online survey and virtual focus group interviews with Black high school students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders in Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, Boston, MA, Detroit, MI, Las Vegas, NV, and New York, NY. Participants ranged from 14 to more than 70 years of age.

The majority of survey and focus group respondents were college-educated women who identified as parents, educators or both.


Findings underscored the historical and systemic nature of trauma in Black communities as a result of racism in U.S. institutions, including schools and school systems.

Participants expressed concern over the fact that schools are ill-equipped to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of their children and that COVID-19 and increasing racial violence have revealed further their lack of capacity or willingness to meet the educational needs of Black students or expectations of Black parents.

  • COVID-19 and systemic racism had a traumatic and disproportionate impact on Black students, families, and communities in the U.S.
  • Increased racial trauma and mental health issues will have major implications for teaching and learning post-pandemic.
  • Schools are ill-equipped to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of Black students.
  • Failed responses to COVID-19, police brutality, and the insurrection at The Capitol have further reduced trust in schools and public institutions.
  • Education leaders and policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels must be held accountable for meeting the educational needs of Black students.


  • Protect and defend the rights of Black students to receive an appropriate and equitable education in a safe, welcoming, and affirming learning environment.
  • Invest in counseling, psychological, and mental health services and supports to address racial trauma and its impact on Black students and educators post-pandemic.
  • Provide professional development to teachers and school leaders on how to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of Black students.
  • Modernize curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment to develop the academic ability of all students and prepare for them for civic life by teaching the truth.
  • Invest in the preparation, cultivation, and mentoring of culturally relevant educators who are called to the profession and endorsed by the families they serve.
  • Restore and rebuild community trust by engaging Black students, families, educators, researchers, and leaders as experts and equal partners in education.


As states and local school districts conduct community input and consultation sessions across the country solicit and receive input for their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plans as required by the American Rescue Plan, it is important that the needs and interests of Black students, parents, families, and communities be among those prioritized given the resounding calls and commitments to advancing racial equity and social justice in our nation’s schools and school systems.

The Report

This report is the first in a series of publications examining the impact of the deadly viruses of COVID-19 and racism within the context of educational systems and their implications for the education of Black children and youth in the U.S. Funding for this report was provided by Spencer Foundation and Nellie Mae Foundation. The study was one of 20 projects funded out of 1,396 proposals to the Spencer Foundation.


The Black Education Research Collective (BERC) is a collaborative of scholars committed to improving the nature and quality of Black education through culturally sensitive research and evaluation, research-practice partnerships, and policy analysis.

Click Here For The Report

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