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We must do more to center the assets of Emerging Multilingual Leaners

"The time for educational reparations is here, and we are the people who can make it a reality for our children, their families, and their communities."

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Washington, D.C., for a convening hosted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

State-level partners and organizations from around the country, including representatives from California, Texas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, and NYC, actively participated in this critical event.

We engaged in deep dialogue about addressing significant challenges, exploring promising practices, and building recommendations for more effectively serving our growing number of multilingual learners in asset-based and culturally validating ways.

It was an honor to represent MnEEP, along with MnEEP’s Executive Director, Hon. Carlos Mariani Rosa.

WE, each of US, have a collective responsibility to more equitably serve students across the nation, and in that respect, Minnesota is no exception.

It is evident that many of our students continue to experience educational systems that treat our children and their learning as a game or battle that can be won or lost.  This is a false, single, and dangerous narrative that further perpetuates an education debt accumulated over decades, now owed and due in full to People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) communities.

The time for educational reparations is here, and we are the people who can make it a reality for our children, their families, and their communities. It is time to fulfill the educational debt to POCI students and communities.

Emerging Multilingual Learners (EMLs), like each POCI learner, possess valuable assets to offer our communities, schools, state, and nation. Yet all too often, they continue to be denied the opportunities and resources to self-actualize and become their “best selves” as learners.

This is primarily the result of historical and present-day systemic and structural racism and cultural genocide, which we know must be eradicated from of our children’s lived experiences in schools.  Racist practices, policies, and procedures hurt each of us and have no place in American education.  We must remain steadfast to the task we have each been provided as educators.

As Ruby Bridges (pictured with us at the event), once said:
“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.  You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.  Each person must live their life as a model for others. I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would also be free.”

The time to “free up” is now, Minnesota.  For, when I am free, you are free.  Seek freedom and step into “your space” with faith and knowledge that freedom rises like the tide and we must always keep our eyes on the prize —justice.

I look forward to being in the fight for justice and what love looks like in the public sphere and our education spaces, and I look forward to partnering with you and others in the journey to make this place better for our children and seven generations-worth of our children that follow.

Manuia lou aso and alofa atu – fa’afetai le Atua…
One love.

Leiataua Dr. Jon Peterson
Jon Peterson

Leiataua Dr. Jon Peterson is a Native and Indigenous educator who is working with MnEEP as a consultant to provide ongoing coordination, support, and leadership to the EML Network and the Joyce Foundation Grant Project.

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