The Power of Advocacy
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world… would do this, it would change the earth.”— William Faulkner, Nobel Prize-winning author
I am proud to say that in 2023 the EdTrust team, working alongside our partners, have helped secure many equity wins for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. In an environment where unfounded fear of change and diversity has caused some to lose sight of what’s right for students, we have continued our mission to speak up for them — through the echo chambers of congress, state houses, and schoolhouses — to disrupt the status quo. Using data and promoting evidenced-based strategies to push back on false narratives, here are a few ways we have championed change in 2023:
- Countering the negative narrative that our country has too much diversity and contains too many perspectives, we released a comprehensive report, where our researchers analyzed 300 children’s books and found a severe lack of racial and ethnic representation. We also created a tool that educators, families, and book publishers can use to measure how well books in their curricula represent Black and Latino kids. Because when children can see themselves in books in positive and realistic ways, they perform better in school.
- College campuses have become a hotbed of controversy and hostility. But EdTrust provided tools and resources for campus leaders on how to address campus racial climate before it made recent national headlines. We released a digital report on how campus racial climates impact Black, Latino, and Asian students, culling first-person accounts of their experiences. We challenged institutional leaders to take concrete steps to create climates where all students feel supported and that they belong.
- EdTrust joined the chorus of parents, civil rights groups, education partners, and students to call out Scholastic for releasing an optional list of diverse book fair books, abdicating their longtime charge to curate a comprehensive, equity-driven list for all schools. In the span of two weeks, Scholastic issued a letter of explanation before advocates dialed up the pressure, prompting the company to quickly issue a letter of apology to authors and illustrators and vowing to discontinue segregating books into an optional collection next year.
- Working alongside our partners, we helped shape the Advanced Coursework Equity Act, which was reintroduced last month by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The legislation would authorize $800 million in grants to address equity gaps in enrollment and performance in advanced programs and courses. EdTrust supports this bill because we know the importance of advanced coursework and STEM education for students’ long-term success. In fact, for some time, EdTrust has championed the need for advanced coursework to be available to Black and Latino students, who are often shut out of these classes. Our recently released report, Opportunities Denied: High-Achieving Black and Latino Students Lack Access to Advanced Math makes our case even stronger and underscores the connection of student access to rigorous curriculum and increased success rates in college and career.
- We also believe in power of state advocacy to drive progress. In 2023, through our state offices and coalitions, we gave voice to student initiatives in Texas, scored a historic win for equitable funding in Michigan, secured victories for early learning programs and improve discipline policies in California, and worked to expand access to childcare subsidies in New York.
As we take a break this holiday season, let’s reflect on the changes that were brought about because we raised our voices instead of settling for the status quo. But we must also refuel and prepare for the year ahead. There is still much work to do to continue to be a united force using the power of advocacy to create a brighter, more just, and equitable future for students.