Voices of color

Have you seen the billboards? The ones that say: “Minnesota schools are worst in the nation for our children of color”? 

As I write this Education Issue opening note, I can’t stop thinking about those signs.

In fact, I was about to chime cheerily about the incredible amount of school choices we have in our fair state — as seen in two school profiles in this issue that are impressive by any measure — the Minnesota Waldorf School, a private campus in Roseville, and the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture, a public K–12 charter school in Vadnais Heights and Little Canada. 

Both are departures from traditional public schools and give kids amazing and alternative ways to learn. 

Meanwhile in this issue, however, we’ve got a story by a white teacher about the art of getting “woke,” which is to say waking up to the lack of equality many families in Minnesota have been facing for decades, especially in the realm of education. 

The folks who put up the thought-provoking billboards — the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children — have been pouring millions into various efforts for years to address the issue of disparity, according to the Star Tribune.

And yet, the problem persists, says the foundation and the newspaper’s most recent data from 2016–17 when “Minnesota had the lowest graduation rates of any state for black and Hispanic students, and the second-lowest for American Indian students.”

So what we can do?

Well, it’s exceedingly complicated. It’s beyond my comprehension. 

But experts say getting woke starts with awareness — of inequality and white privilege. 

So let’s start there: We really need writers of color for this magazine. 

Though we strive to feature photography and cover stars that represent our state’s diversity, that’s honestly as far as it’s gone. 

Diversity is a priority, and I believe we can make it a much bigger one, in more ways. So let’s do that right now: If you’re a talented writer of color — or if you’d like to be a go-to parent-of-color source/interviewee for upcoming articles — please write me at editor@mnparent.com and use the hashtag #voicesofcolor. If you want your kid to be on our cover, you can find out how at mnparent.com/coverkid.

If you want to write for — or be interviewed by — our sister magazine for people aged 50 and older, Minnesota Good Age, write me at editor@mngoodage.com.

Many experts believe the key to closing the proverbial education gap starts with addressing the challenges faced during early childhood. At this magazine, we’re definitely in the business of early childhood. Maybe having diverse opinions and voices in the parenting realm could be our contribution toward creating a more equitable Minnesota.

Write me! Let’s start this conversation.