This year’s State of the Union Address was unlike any I had ever experienced before. I had just sat down in a room full of educators when I heard the word “teacher” come out of the President’s mouth, and to be precise, it was the fifth word. We were astounded. Then when he talked about other education issues–high school redesign, high quality preschool, connecting students to the best technology, making college more affordable and accessible, and high school graduation rates—we cheered, gave each other high-fives and knew that the President was with us.
While each topic resonated on a personal level with at least one educator or another in the room, for me, something bigger stood out…a call for equity.
As the President pointed out, it is 2014 and women are still paid less than their counterparts. This is hard for me to believe. I am a woman who happens to be a teacher, and who believes that being an educator is my civic duty and responsibility. Furthermore, because I believe education and equity are symbiotic, education is the one platform that can help shape, inform and paint the equity landscape.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss his thoughts on the State of the Union, and he told me that during the speech he found himself thinking, “What’s a kid from the Southside of Chicago doing in this situation?” It appeared that equity was indeed on all of our minds.
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Emily Davis is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.