Twin Cities principals band together to take on inequalities in education

From the cities to the suburbs, a group of Twin Cities-area principals is vowing to make educational practices in the state more equitable.

More than 150 principals are uniting to take a stand for educational justice. Inspired by late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, the group is calling itself the "Good Trouble" coalition.

"I think that people are tired," said North High Assistant Principal Steve White. "People are fed up."

"Right now our kids don't experience that fairness," added White. "Right now it is unfair, and we’re going to change that."

"We have to create a coalition of principals that is really ready to do this work," said Hmong International Academy Principal Jamil Payton. "Do Good Trouble and really break down these barriers that continue to be put in front of Black, brown and indigenous kids."

Payton needs only to look back on his own personal experiences to understand change is needed.

"My tenth grade English teacher, who I think might still be teaching, once told me and my cousin that we would end up dead or in prison," recalled Payton. "And to this day, as a 46-year-old man, that still sticks with me."

Working to dismantle what they call racist policies in the educational system, their first course of action is fighting bias in standardized testing.

"It's no shocker when you study history of our country and education that our native children and our African-American children still continue to emerge as the lowest performers," said Minneapolis North High Principal Mauri Friestleben.

Working to make a difference, Friestleben is leading the way.

"And that is what this group has done for me, it's reminded me that there are way more believers like me," explained Friestleben. "I'm not the only, and they're not the ones, and it feels really good to know we have each other."

Friestleben says the goal is to create an environment that matches the unique identities of all students. The group originally started on Facebook where it has more than 250 members.