In the lead-up to the ONE by ONE Convention on January 23, we are asking members of our Community Advisory Team to talk about their involvement in ONE by ONE and why attending this event is a “must” for public education advocates. Check out these reflections from Mai Keisling, an incredible public school educator and former co-chair of the Community Advisory Team.
Register for the ONE by ONE Convention today! Seats are limited. Go to jaxpef.org/convention to get started.
Being an Asian American community leader and volunteer for a long time, I and other leaders sometimes had difficulties in finding a public forum to provide us a public space to advocate for issues on behalf of our student population in the district. Likewise, being an active community educator/volunteer on behalf of my own students, I recognized that the access for productive public venues on public education is quite limited. As an active community advocate for ESOL and immigrant students, especially the refugees, I wanted to raise awareness of their struggle in school as they adjust their difficult journey in a new life in America as I was a refugee and an ESOL student many years ago. Again, the venue for such activism was often out of reach.
However, such inaccessibility to public forum on community conversations and topics about public education that were and are still dear to my heart changed three years ago when I attended the inaugural ONE by ONE Community Convention in January 2013.
My voice as a minoritized community leader, community advocate, public school educator, parent, and concerned citizen was shared with and heard by other hundreds of community members as we discussed the most important education priorities within our community. These education priorities were then discussed among the superintendent and School Board members, and most were embraced and written into the district’s strategic plans. Now, that is powerful. My voice and our voice matter.
Since then, I have attended every annual ONE by ONE Convention. Not only myself attending this important event, my students, the Asian-American community members, and many other hard-to-reach community subgroups were purposefully invited to be a part of the conversations and sharing of challenges, successes, and ideas so that appropriate solutions can be found to help our students from all backgrounds.
The conversations are continued to be addressed throughout the year because our public school concerns happen all year round; therefore, our community discussion on those issues and solution findings should also happen all year round. Now, that is powerful. My voice, Our voice, and my Students voices matter at the ONE by ONE Convention.
Dr. Mai Dinh Keisling