The executive director of a Pennsylvania charter school advocacy group has stepped down after posting on Facebook that protesters of the death of George Floyd “disgust me” and “all lives matter.”
Ana Meyers had apologized on Friday night for the comments, saying that "as the wife of a retired state trooper, my instinct was to defend the many good and honorable law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania."
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools said in a statement, "We have determined that new leadership is in the best interests of our member schools and the families they serve across the state. We thank Ana Meyers for her tireless efforts over the past three years to create more educational opportunities for students in Pennsylvania, especially minority and economically disadvantaged students, in public charter schools.”
In a Facebook post May 31 — which appears to have been deleted and was reported by WHYY — Meyers said, “This is not okay, friends. None of this is okay. Not the murder of an innocent person no matter the color of his skin. Not the looting. Not the attacks on the police.” She went on to write, “I guarantee that if your house is robbed you will be calling the police to protect you. Think about THAT. These protesters disgust me. All lives matter!”
Under her message, Meyers linked to an alert issued hours earlier by officials in Northampton County, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, after the first peaceful demonstrations in Center City gave way to vandalism and clashes with police. It said: “*** PHILADELPHIA CITY *** OUT OF CONTROL VIOLENT PROTESTS. STATE POLICE VEHICLE SET ON FIRE..."
On Friday, Meyers posted that her earlier remarks were “insensitive and inappropriate,” and said she had “failed to acknowledge the pain, anger and grief of the good and honorable people who were protesting his death and seeking rightful justice.”
Meyers, 48, a onetime resident of central Bucks County, in recent years has lived outside of Harrisburg, public records show.
A former political activist in the tea party movement, Meyers was a prominent voice of opposition to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has pushed charter reform as such schools have faced increased controversy in Pennsylvania and nationally. Critics say the publicly funded but independently run schools are a drain on school districts that have been squeezed by rising costs.
Yet the schools have proved popular, including with families of color. Black students made up more than 40% of the 142,000 students enrolled in Pennsylvania charters last year.
Sharif El-Mekki, former principal of Mastery Shoemaker Charter School in West Philadelphia, who leads the Center for Black Educator Development, an organization focused on growing the ranks of black teachers, said that “when people don’t interrogate their own biases, particularly their racial biases … while purportedly serving the students who are the subject of these racial biases, it’s particularly problematic.”
El-Mekki said that “educational justice is racial justice," and the former cannot exist without the latter. And as the charter school movement has been backed by white conservatives in addition to black parents seeking to exercise school choice, “the focus going forward has to be rooted in centering the experiences of black students and black communities,” he said.
He noted a relative dearth of black-led charter schools, and called for leaders of charter advocacy groups to be more responsive to the desires of black communities.