I write this a few days ahead of election day. By the time this blog is posted, the results will be tabulated and new officials will soon be in office and new school levy referendums might exist, but I want to offer a few thoughts about education free of knowing which political party and candidates control our government.
The newly elected will soon begin the work of governing; setting policy to direct the actions of school districts, colleges, and departments of education. They will determine how to collect and appropriate taxes for the largest activity of our public institutions – the education of students in early through post-secondary education. But no matter the outcome, one thing will remain constant in the education of our young people: race equity still matters.
Thought #1: Racially predictable disparities in student academic outcomes is a constant reality. What matters in who occupies the Governor’s mansion is less about political partisanship and more about what informs and compels them to create laws that advance our schools and colleges to “do differently” and be places of success for POCI students.
Thought #2: Our student racial and cultural diversity will continue to grow. Across the nation, POCI youth already comprise over 50% of all K-12 public school enrollments. In Minnesota, almost one third of enrollments are from POCI households, with Emerging Multilingual students the fastest growing group.
Thought #4: Resources – especially state appropriations for schools, matter. See AMSD’s state history in how we finance E-12 schools.
Thought #5: Who informs and leads matter. A racially, culturally diverse citizenry has much to offer on how the delivery of education can be relevant and effective but that wisdom is minimized when those who lead our schools, colleges and systems do not reflect that diversity.
With these thoughts, I offer this advice: now is the time, between November and January, to inform and demand that their upcoming governing practices be guided by race equity principles. As you do, you can point to the mature knowledge already being developed to inform such practices, such as MnEEP’s 5 Big Bold Goals.
And, as more school districts and colleges embrace the need to place race equity at the center of their work, visit your local schools. See example here: St Paul Public Schools Equity Center and at MinnState Equity Center
Elections won’t change the backdrop of student racial realities, but they can decide whether we will use our government to best drive what our institutions do for racially equitable ways to serve students for success.