Mayor's taskforce on 'Institutional Racism' issues final report

The Austin Mayor's task force on "Institutional Racism" has come back with recommendations.
               
Today the group presented their report to the City Council.

Recent incidents like the arrest of Breaion King and the shooting of David Joseph by Austin Police inspired Mayor Adler to form the task force last year.
               
But Adler says the problem of institutional racism goes beyond the criminal justice system.

"I suggested that we have a much broader conversation because it's not just about what happens in criminal justice or in civil justice.  But also access to capital and housing and healthcare delivery," Adler said.

During Tuesday's City Council work session, Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Burnette and Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz presented their final report on institutional racism and systemic inequities in Austin.

"There are policies and practices that this city adopted decades ago that we still live with the remnants of that," Adler said.

"There were a lot of great people, really smart people who really care and love Austin were a part of this group and we all recognize that we need to share this information with the greater community and get their feedback and input," Cruz said.

A couple of the issues the group examined in education from Kindergarten age through high school -- a mismatch of teacher demographics to the diversity of students here in the Austin area.  The report says white students only make up 37% of the student population in Central Texas while 73% of teachers are white.
               
The report says the lack of diversity in staff is detrimental to students of color -- leading to higher disciplinary rates.

"We have to ask ourselves 'why?'  Is it a policy issue, is it a behavior issue, resource issue, development issue?  Or maybe it's all of it.  But it's important we really look at the issue and really address it in a way that we can really be constructive about a solution," Cruz said.

Toward the end of council's discussion, Mayor Adler announced the passing of former Austin Mayor John Trevino Jr.  He says the discussion on race is a continuance of his work.

"If there ever was a door closed to people of color, Mayor John Trevino Jr. sought to open that door and he opened many of those doors.  And I think it is real fitting that on the moment he would pass the city council would be having this discussion at that time because this is the work and the direction of his life," Adler said.

Some council members were asking today -- "What now?  What do we do with this report?  Can we fix some of these problems?"
               
Mayor Adler says city staff will take a look at the report this week to make recommendations about what council can take action on.

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