I have school-aged (or almost school-aged) nieces and nephews, a godson and a cousin. I have friends with children who are worried about the schools in their neighborhoods, with some planning to move into different school districts.

I have a friend who wanted to move her child out of her current school, only to realize she didn’t have much more confidence in other nearby options. I have a friend who wishes she could afford to send her child to private school. Another friend’s son begged his mom to pull him out his neighborhood high school, because he felt he would have a better academic future elsewhere.

No, I’m not a teacher, but I know firsthand the power of great teachers and the role they can play in helping kids like my friend’s son have the academic futures they want, need and deserve. This is why I work to ensure that Minnesota teachers’ voices are heard on issues and policies that affect their classrooms. This is why I want to make sure my nieces, nephews and friends’ children encounter teachers who expect everything from them that I know they’re capable of achieving.

No, I’m not a parent, but I am an uncle, a friend and a community member who understands the importance of a high-quality education. I understand that outside factors affect learning—it’s hard for children to learn on an empty stomach. However, I also believe there’s a lot we can address inside of schools without waiting until we fix everything that happens outside their walls.

I don’t have a silver bullet to fix education. But, I do know that if we don’t work together and candidly address the challenges in our public schools, more and more students will fall by the wayside. More and more of my friends will opt not to send their kids to their neighborhood schools.

If we truly want to make public education work and ensure that all Minnesota students attend great schools, we have to empower more voices—not drown each other out. We need to hear from teachers, students, parents, administrators and community members. Because all of us know that our public school system can work, but also that, currently, for too many—usually kids of color—it doesn’t.

To me, education advocacy means helping more people share their concerns, hopes and ideas about public schools, so that we can work together to ensure better futures for all kids.

I work in education advocacy for my nieces, nephews, godson and cousin, for my friends’ children. I work for the teachers, parents and community members who want to share their voices and ideas, and inform policies to improve all of our schools.

I work in education advocacy because I know that all children deserve great public education. I work in education advocacy because I believe we can deliver on that idea.


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