News flash: The next generation DOESN’T suck

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Yesterday I met with a handful of 7th -9th graders from North and Apollo from the District 742 middle CmPS (Community Problem Solving) team. Haji and I are meeting with them again in January and will be doing an in depth article on their team and the project they are tackling so, I won’t go into a bunch of detail on that right now. Look for that article next month, though!

So many things that these young folks talked to me about yesterday hit me hard as we sat a “talked shop” (shop=resolving cultural tension in this area) for a couple hours. Because I used to be a middle school teacher, I understood that we could go deep in our discussions. These students did not disappoint. They had strong feelings about everything from Donald Trump to the Muslim foot washing station debate at local high schools.

I’ve seen many comments, especially on the St. Cloud Times online comments section, claiming that District 742 schools are now like inner-city schools. I talked with the kids and their teacher/advisor about this and NONE of them agreed with this statement. Some of you #unitecloud peoples know that I taught middle school in inner city Atlanta so I know what I speak of when I say that our kids are not experiencing an inner-city educational experience. We do have some similarities – admittedly, more than we used to – especially now that the poverty rate in St. Cloud is at 25%.

Tech-High-School-3One area where we are moving closer to that “inner city” school feel is our aging buildings. For crying out loud, my beautiful 90+ year old Grandma Lu went to Tech.  And, my father-in-law went to Apollo! There is no denying the sheer AGE of these buildings. Still, our recent levy to build a new high school and revamp another one did not pass. Yes, it was a lot of money, but, it takes money to educate kids. My personal take is that these kiddos are our future leaders so it is up to EVERYONE in this town to make sure they are well equipped to build their educational foundation here in our city.

The really, extremely, horribly sad thing is that, without any provoking from me, the kids in this group laid this truth out for me:

“All of us know the truth behind why the levy didn’t pass. My parents overheard people at the polls saying ‘I’m not funding a school for Somalis’ and ‘I’m not wasting my money to education Muslims'”.

Oh, how I wish I would have been in front of that person in the voting line a couple months ago. Goodness gracious, who are we, St. Cloud? Are we people who base the American right that all children have to education on their parents religion? No. A thousand times no. That’s NOT who we are. But, these kids feel that. They know that the cultural tension in this area is one of the main reasons why there is not currently any hope for them to see better school buildings in their future. How dare we put that burden on our kids to carry?

One student said to me: “You know what I want to say to the people who think Donald Trump should be our next president? I want to ask them just what century they think we are living in.”

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Yes, future business owner, teacher, web programmer, or president. You may be in middle school, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get it. And if a 9th grader can understand that, then, why, oh why, can’t adults in this area and in the rest of our country understand the dangerous and backwards path we are currently on as a nation?

Thank you, Eagle CmPS for the hope you give me for our future. You rock.

Dear Donald Trump supporters: What century do you think we're living in? - local 9th grader Click To Tweet
About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as Executive Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN and is a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University). She is a member of multiple boards, including the St Cloud School District 742 board, the United Way Community Impact Team, and the United Way's education initiative, Partner for Student Success. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children, making music and playing games.