“There is no school without us.”
– 826 New Orleans’ 2018 Student Editorial Board
At 826 National, we are deeply motivated by the question of who gets to learn to write in this country and what impact that has on the trajectory of individual lives and of our country. Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike race-based consideration in college admissions creates educational barriers for Black and Brown students, further threatening access to higher education, and along with it, our nation’s path to a more equitable future. As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said, “Deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”
Limiting access to quality education limits students’ opportunities and limits our nation. In her dissent to last week’s decision, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “Equal educational opportunity is a prerequisite to achieving racial equality in our Nation.” The question of whose voices are represented in our newspapers, boardrooms, classrooms and policy-making tables is not one we see as separate from our work. At a time when decisions at the highest levels of government are threatening the promise of education for all young people, the 826 Network’s twenty-year commitment to equipping students from historically under-represented communities with the strong writing skills and platform to share their diverse perspectives is more relevant than ever.
Given the failure of our nation’s policies, it’s imperative we remain steadfast in our commitment to close the educational access gap. We will continue to provide teacher support, innovative curricula, inclusive spaces for students, and educational research to move the national education conversation forward.
Writing has the power to open minds, unlock opportunities, and literally change our collective narrative. The 826 Network is teaching students the power and joy of writing and planting seeds for a future in which all voices have the opportunity to shape our nation. Our students’ words and aspirations are what fuel our work and inspire us every day. They are scholars, dreamers, and leaders—and given the opportunity, they’ll write us all into a better future.
CEO, 826 National