Inequality has long eroded belief in core American principles like fairness, freedomand justice for all for people of color, women, the generationally-poor, those who are differently-abled, members of the LGBTQ community and those of us who live at the intersections of these identities. For many of us, the work of inequality is professional and also deeply personal.
Personally, I have long brought an unapologetic commitment to and passion for speaking out against racial and gender inequality and its impact on my life. Professionally, as both an educator and a funder, I have focused this commitment and passion specifically on eliminating these social ills from the American public education system.
Public education should be the great equalizer; but like most systems, it is often perpetuating, rather than eradicating, society’s larger inequities. If in America education is the “civil rights issue of our time,” we must approach our work differently- grounding issues of achievement, access and performance in honest conversations about power, privilege, greed and supremacy.
Justice preserves human dignity. Inequality is a betrayal of this. It strips away the value we place on others and often as a result, the value they place on themselves. Inequality lies to us and tells us that it is OK for certain students to have less experienced teachers, use older books, sit in dilapidated buildings, have their cultural histories and contributions diminished or unacknowledged, or be chastised and ridiculed over use of certain bathrooms.
I believe in the transformative power of education for individuals and for a society and dream of a world in which schools are places of justice, not injustice; places where we teach to liberate, not indoctrinate or incarcerate; where we value active citizenship as much as academic achievement; where children are safe, loved and nurtured not in spite of, but because of, who they are. I do this work because I know it is needed and because I believe it is possible.