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Opinion

Elevating Voices From Our Diverse Communities

We are launching a new Opinion section to share a wide range of voices from our communities on the issues most important to our students and our work.

By Sayo Martin

September 10, 2020

Since the creation of Teach For America’s editorial team nearly three years ago, we have published more than 200 stories on a variety of topics, including food insecurity, healthcare disparities, diversity in and out of the classroom, the rural broadband gap, and so much more. Those stories have been rooted in the real and lived experiences of people across our broad network and within the communities where we work. Still, as admirable as this is, it fulfills only a part of the charge we set for ourselves. 

While we were telling important stories of our network, we also realized the need to create a space for our communities to tell their own stories more regularly. 

To create more platforms to elevate voices from our communities, over the next few weeks, we will launch an Opinion section on our website. Here, we will partner with contributing writers who share our interest in the future of education and bettering systems for kids, who have a unique and poignant personal perspective on the education landscape and intersecting issues—the barriers, opportunities, and solutions for educational equity—and who believe in diversity of thought with the goal of fostering learning and understanding. 

While all the stories featured won’t represent the organization’s views, they will represent the perspectives and experiences of our communities, some who may disagree with us. No matter how dissenting or divergent, these perspectives and experiences in all ways inform our work. In essence, this content and space will help us to learn and will become the iron that sharpens our iron. 

Our own editorial team has and will continue to unequivocally and unabashedly write about education and any issue that intersects with it, in the Stories section of our site. We do this with the understanding that Teach For America is uniquely positioned to be proximate to the issues within education, and we are humbled by the privilege and responsibility to share that experiential perspective with othersto bring those who may not have the same lens, proximity, or awareness closer to the work and to provide our stories as a tool for learning, affirmation, and elevation for those who are directly in the work.  

But we aren’t an academic journal or an independent editorial news source. Even as we strive for objectivity, how we tell our stories is intricately and intrinsically tied to our mission and theory of change. We desire to build a diverse coalition, and have used our stories to ultimately inspire others to join us in this work and help inform how to approach it. 

The creation of our new Opinion section is the first of several efforts to bring more of our network and communities into our editorial work. In addition to inviting more voices to the conversation via Opinion pieces, we are taking the below three actions: 

  1. We created a virtual Suggestion Box to make it easier to hold us accountable and share your thoughts with the editorial team anonymously. We welcome and respect both commendations and critiques, either via the Suggestion Box or to editors@teachforamerica.org
     
  2. We aim to create an editorial advisory board made up of voices both internal and external to our network and that is representative of the multidimensional and multitudinous intersectional identities within the communities we serve. A list of current active members of the editorial advisory board will be directly accessible via our website. The editorial advisory board will meet periodically to discuss the direction of our content, including consistencies or discrepancies in our perspective, style, voice, and tone, and any additional critical areas. 
     
  3. We commit to being clear, concrete, and forthcoming about any mistakes that we make in reporting, publishing, distributing, and amplifying our content. We will strive for restitution and restoration in a way that maintains respect for the individuals involved, elevates our shared humanity and moves us forward toward a place where we are all better for it.

We recognize that editorial integrity is created in application and practice. With your support and participation, we will continue to strengthen our editorial work by making the conscious choice to create open spaces that give each of us the opportunity to share our collective stories and personal perspectives. 

If you are interested in contributing to our Opinion section, please submit it to our Suggestion Box or write to us at editors@teachforamerica.org