Dr. Kishimoto at ECS in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Kishimoto at ECS in Washington, D.C.

It’s time for Education Commission of the States, when State Superintendents, legislators and other leaders descend on Washington, DC. to share strategies around pressing educational policies. There is no more awe-inspiring place to be to do this work, among the white and grey stone buildings of the national mall, all within the view of the U.S. Capitol.

My recent conversation with Dr. Leslie Rodriguez-Torres, which I am so excited to share with you this month, reminds me there is much more work for us to engage in as education leaders in the policy arena today. While we hoped we would be in the post-COVID period, we are still faced with new variants of the virus that will continue to impact our schools as we work through summer school and prepare for another school year with students and adults struggling with unfinished learning, growing mental health challenges, and teacher shortages.

To add to the uncertainty of our times, the January 6th congressional hearings, the June 24th U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Roe v Wade 1973 landmark decision, and the upcoming mid-term elections, with large number of gubernatorial and Congressional seats at stake this November, are showcasing to the world the current stress of our highly divided nation and contentious political environment.

Is our current national policy struggle a fight about conservative versus liberal values? Perhaps this is not about Red and Blue, but rather about our young nation’s growing pains as we put to test our democracy built on concepts of liberty, civil rights, and justice for all people. As our nation diversifies, and as we push closer toward equity, access, and anti-racism, we should expect the uncomfortable conversations at the table that come with questioning status quo inequities, subjugation, and generational disenfranchisement. Like the adolescent whose body experiences growing pains, our nation also is experiencing the changes that inevitably come about from continuous striving toward true justice, equal rights, and freedom for every person.

The fight for equity can be exhausting, but we cannot stop. Our next level of education policy work will require boldness, fearlessness, and difficult conversations. Let’s continue to be at the table and speak up!