Open Letter to Secretary Cardona - BIPOC Student Statement by James Rhee

By James Rhee

Who are students? - WE are the ones who make up the next generation of leaders. 

For far too long, students have been called “too young, too inexperienced, too immature” to be involved in discussions regarding our educational system.

For far too long, we have sat watching our leaders make decisions for us, with us having little to no say on any changes within our school system.

For far too long, we watched our schools crumble, unable to satisfy our educational needs for millions of kids across the country.

Student leaders all across the country need your support in helping radicalize our educational system to a system that works for all of us. From BIPOC, to LGBTQ+, to non native English speakers, to the economically disadvantaged, every student deserves and needs the right to a quality and equitable education. 

We need a voice, a voice like yours - Cardona - to speak for all us youth. 

We need you to believe in the potential of every child across this NATION to become successful, as you have done in your home state of Connecticut. You know first hand of the struggles many of us face, especially as a Latino American born in a low income housing project. You know first hand of the determination, grit, and passion, every student holds, as even you said, “It’s not lost on me, the significance of being the grandson of a tobacco farmer who came here for a better life, who despite having a second grade education was able to raise his family and create that upward mobility cycle.”  

We hope that you can instill change as an advocator, a representation of every single child, regardless of their zip code, race, nationality, immigration status, religion, sexuality, or gender identity.

“Our Turn” urges you to do right by us.


About Our Turn: Our Turn, a 501(c)(3), elevates the voices of young people in the fight for educational equity. Our Turn Action Network, a 501(c)(4), deploys policy advocacy efforts for the achievement of educational justice.  

About the Raise Your Hand Campaign for Educational Justice:

Raise Your Hand is a national youth-led movement to build public support for a student-driven vision to reimagine education and achieve educational justice.