August 17, 2020
LatinoLEAD member: Paula Cole
Q: In your new role, what is the most exciting initiative you’re looking forward to building/continuing? A: I joined E4E MN as Executive Director after partnering with the organization for six years as a member and teacher leader. Generally speaking, I am excited to create opportunities for teachers to work on education advocacy and policy initiatives that would improve the education landscape in MN, particularly for our Latinx, Black, and Indigenous students. I am also thrilled to launch our first Teacher Action Team this fall. These teachers will be doing advocacy work at the state level to address the added challenges that the COVID pandemic has brought to our school districts.
Q: There’s a huge disparity for our Latinx community in Minnesota, why do you believe we need more Latinxs in education? A: Minnesota is statistically the worst state in the country for high school graduation and positive education outcomes for Latinx and indigenous students. I have been fighting to diversify the teaching profession since 2014 because research shows that students do better when they are taught by teachers who look like them. This cultural affinity is very important to build positive relationships between teachers and their students and families.
Our students of color face not only academic achievement disparities. They are the victims of low expectations by some teachers who believe that English learners are not yet capable of succeeding at school. Latinx teachers are more likely to see the potential of English learners for many of those teachers were once English learners themselves. Representation at all levels is important, and I think it is even more crucial in our classrooms.
Q: Why do you think the work of LatinoLEAD is important for our community now? A: LatinoLead is very important for our community because of its mission to advance our collective influence and success. LatinoLead is a collective of Latinx professionals with diverse backgrounds who are well poised to find culturally relevant solutions to the challenges our communities face in Minnesota. I’m always honored to be in a room with such a talented group of people working together to address education, housing, and immigration issues to name a few. As I said before, representation is important and LatinoLead is unique in its role to elevate the Latinx community.