When my daughter and I moved back to Minnesota from Memphis, I was excited for her to receive a high-quality education from – and with – people who look like her. In Memphis, my daughter attended a predominantly white private school and I looked forward to the opportunity to surround her with peers that shared her background, culture and experiences.
However, when I started researching our local community school options in Minneapolis, I found bad parent reviews, low test scores, and poor academic outcomes. It was clear that the schools we had access to were not high-quality, well outfitted, or able to provide the experience I wanted for my child.
My research continued and led me to Prodeo Academy. A friend – and fellow MPS alum who I went to school with – recommended the school and right away, I could see that the diversity, focus on academic excellence, and values around building pride and integrity in students would be a great fit for my daughter. Four years later, I know it was the right choice.
At Prodeo, my daughter gets to learn in a culturally affirming environment that nourishes more than her academic achievements. She is surrounded by students, teachers, and administrators that share a life experience in a way she doesn’t experience anywhere else. All of her extracurricular activities, even swimming at the local YMCA, are made up of predominantly white peers. That dynamic means something – it shifts something. When she’s at Prodeo, she doesn’t have to carry the burden of being ‘other’ and can just be her.
When I see my daughter and the mostly Black community of students and families at Prodeo, I see my culture. When we leave Prodeo, we don’t get to feel celebrated or included in the same ways. I don’t know what I would do if we couldn’t have a school that celebrates who we are, reflects our culture, and gives my daughter the academic rigor she needs.
As conversations about whether our school should exist at the Legislature and in the chambers of the State Supreme Court, I want to make it clear that my ability to choose the best school for my child is not only my right, it’s also life-changing for our family. It’s not a decision that others should be able to make for our family. My daughter deserves the school she has, and if it had to change in the way that some are proposing, I don’t think we would feel safe.