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Inspiring those most impacted by educational inequity to organize

  • David Lai

David Lai is making an impact through a career in policy and advocacy as a special projects manager at the Council of the Great City Schools. Like many of LEE’s Policy and Advocacy Summer Fellows, David was offered the opportunity to stay on at the Council after his Fellowship because of his invaluable work and is now supporting various projects for English Language Learners and related policy work.

"Because educational inequity disproportionately impacts less politically-mobilized populations, I see research and advocacy on their behalf as vital in the mission to achieve educational equity," said David. "This is the type of work that the Council tackles on a regular basis in service of urban education, and I am grateful to take part in that."

David believes the people impacted most by educational inequity should play the largest role in identifying and implementing solutions. However, this group often isn’t mobilized to have a voice in decisions on formal political power and resources. Because of this, education policy decisions can fail to address issues that are most important to the community and do little to foster sustainable change.

"My vision for combating educational inequity involves activating and mobilizing traditionally underserved groups that are most affected by educational inequity. This involves investing deeply in getting to know members of a community, understanding the community’s history, and engaging community members as key stakeholders to influence the fate of their education system," he says. "I currently support local stakeholders as a conduit for sharing resources and as a voice to elevate their needs."

Through involvement in research and policy, David hopes to support the sharing of ideas that will help stakeholders stay focused on creating equitable opportunities for all students. David believes that anyone who wants to combat educational inequity should invest in their own development and foster supportive networks -- which he has been able to do through LEE.

"I gained first-hand experience in education policy through LEE’s Policy and Advocacy Summer Fellowship," David said. "In addition to stressing the importance of developing skills, LEE’s emphasis on working with communities and forming coalitions helps to unravel causes of inequity and to sustain progress toward educational equity."

Find your path to impact and learn what programs and supports LEE can offer as a partner in your leadership development. Sign up for LEE’s Intro to Policy, Advocacy & Organizing: Your Path to Change Webinar on August 8th.