I had the privilege of visiting Oklahoma this past September and one of the highlights was visiting Greenwood Leadership Academy and meeting their founding principal, Kojo Asamoa-Caesar. I recently spotted a post on his Facebook page that expressed a message that really resonated with me and I asked Kojo if I could publish it as a blog post. It’s short and simple but its message is powerful and strong. -Erika Sanzi
Last night, in partnership with Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) and Kara Kelty, we had a small gathering of Teach For America (TFA) corps members and alumni in our home to discuss the state of education in OK and how we might best advocate on behalf of all our children. We had two elected leaders in the house – our city councilor, Vanessa Hall Harper, and School Board member and TFA alum, Amy Shelton.
We talked about elected leadership and the issues that are most important to us. Among them was adequate funding for education. Our state has cut education funding by 27% since 2008, the worst in the nation. We’ve cut $180 million from K-12 education even as our student population has grown by 51,000 students in that same time span. We’re 49th in the nation in per pupil funding and teacher pay – which makes it difficult to attract teachers and provide the best education for our babies.
We’ve seen young people across the country run for office and win and now have a seat at the decision-making table where they can make real change to benefit our generation and the next.
If we’re going to have any shot at transforming our cities, states and country, young people are going to have to get in the game. As our city councilor exhorted us last night with a quote from the elected official that most inspires her, Shirley Chisholm: “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
So run young people, run.
This piece first ran at Good School Hunting here.
Kojo Asamoa-Caesar is the founding principal at Greenwood Leadership Academy, a Partnership School in Tulsa and part of the Met Cares Foundation.
Before joining MetCares, he served as the Director of Student Engagement at Tulsa Legacy Charter School where he was responsible for establishing and maintaining a school culture that was conducive to student learning across two school buildings. Mr. Asamoa-Caesar began his career in education as a member of Teacher for America through which he served as a kindergarten and 3rd grade teacher at Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School (the predecessor to Tulsa Legacy Charter School). As an early childhood teacher, Mr. Asamoa-Caesar’s students saw significant growth in their reading scores. He was ultimately named Teacher of the Year at Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School for the 2014-2015 school year. In between his time at Tulsa Legacy, Kojo Asamoa-Caesar served as Director of Outreach and Operations for the Office of Colorado Senator Mike Johnston and was instrumental in marshaling 13 bills through the legislative process, ten of which were signed into law. Mr. Asamoa-Caesar’s passion is to build communities where everyone can achieve their highest potential. He believes education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world, and he wakes up and works hard every day to do just that.