Home Minnesota Educator President’s message: Education leaders come together in defense of safe, welcoming and effective schools

Education leaders come together in defense of safe, welcoming and effective schools

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Education Minnesota president, Denise Specht

Eight leaders in public education in Minnesota came together this month and spoke out against the campaign to roll back the work to make our schools more safe, welcoming and effective for all students.

Make no mistake, the effort to ban “critical race theory” is not about a system of legal analysis taught to law students. It’s a well-coordinated, national campaign against the efforts of public schools to increase racial and gender justice within their walls.

The campaign’s tactics are intended to intimidate individual educators and harass school boards. They could lead to laws and policies that deny our students the freedom to learn an honest history of our country.

Educators must speak up in this moment. This is what the groups said on Sept. 13:

“Nearly all Minnesotans agree every student deserves an education that encourages them to understand and value who they are and where they came from so they can reach their full potential, no matter their skin color, background, gender, or ZIP code.

Too often, we have fallen short of this goal, especially for our students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students living in poverty, and students with special physical or emotional needs. We are committed to reversing this trend with programs and policies that meet students where they are — academically, emotionally, and physically — and lift them up so every student has an excellent chance at academic success. For us, this is the definition of education equity.

We have seen progress but have no doubts that more needs to be done to make our schools safe, welcoming and effective for all students. If nothing else, demography demands we quicken our pace. More than a third of our students statewide are students of color and our state becomes more racially and culturally diverse every year.

Unfortunately, many communities throughout Minnesota are feeling the effects of a well-organized national campaign pushing an agenda that misrepresents the vital work of racial and gender equity in our schools and then mislabels it as “critical race theory.” This deceptive campaign pushes the idea that educational equity is a zero-sum proposition — that it is necessary for some students to lose opportunities to help other students succeed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Educational equity is giving all students a world-class education.

To be clear: Every student — white, Black, brown, or Indigenous — benefits from learning a deeper respect and understanding for their neighbors through an honest education in social studies, language arts, and all the other subjects taught in our schools.

As representatives of classroom educators, administrators, and school boards throughout Minnesota, we value students for who they are today and our organizations are committed to developing all of them into informed citizens, good neighbors and critical thinkers who can live in, and someday lead in, a multicultural, multiracial Minnesota. Our kids deserve nothing less.”

The statement was signed by:
Association of Metropolitan School Districts
Education Minnesota
Minnesota Administrators for Special Education
Minnesota Association of School Administrators
Minnesota Association of School Business Officials
Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals
Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association
Minnesota School Boards Association

Denise Specht
Twitter: @DeniseSpecht

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