How our newly elected officials can start building race equity in education now

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 #3: Who teaches, and how, matters. Minnesota’s teacher racial diversity hasn’t budged in 30 years even as POCI student growth has. See MnEEP brief and MnEEP Policy Analysis on POCI Teachers

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 visit those we work with such as; Voices for Racial Justice, or Equity Alliance MN.

Be informed by learning about AMSD and the ReImagine framework, or visit the data at the MN Dept’ of Education and at the Mn Office Of Higher Ed

See how distinct education reforms are being pursued by different education activists such as: our state teacher union Ed MN and non-profits like Ed Allies and MN Educators for Excellence

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.

 

 

Posted in 2018 Election, Our Voices

Carlos Mariani Rosa View posts by Carlos Mariani Rosa

Carlos Mariani Rosa is a distinguished leader in the nonprofit and public sector. Under his tenure, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership has increasingly strengthened its voice as a statewide authority on students of color in Minnesota.
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