Our VoiceNews & Politics

Hope in the Making, Somali Americans Run for School Board

Garat Ibrahim • Aug 30, 2010

The most recent primary election was quite extraordinary for a new group of Americans who live in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. For the last 10 or so years, school issues have been a big topic of discussion for the Somali and minority communities in Saint Cloud. Students who are refugees or are the children of refugees face unique challenges. Somali parents have had a frustrating time trying to get school officials and board members to understand those challenges, and help their children flourish in the school system.

Unfortunately, the response by school officials made it clear that they were not ready to acknowledge the demographic changes in this small city of 68,000 with minorities making up a third of the population. Sticking to the status quo has become the practice of the school district leaders.

This election cycle brought new hope for changing up the political environment. Many in the Somali community were encouraged to watch two respected people in their community step forward and run for the school board in order to help shape more inclusive educational values.

These role models are a sign of astounding progress for the refugee community and a signal that these individuals have a lot to contribute to all the residents of Saint Cloud.

Although the candidates didn’t win school board seats this time around, the number of votes they received really motivated the community at large.

For a majority of the refugees in the community, this was just the first or second time to practice their American democratic rights and for one of the candidates, Mohamed Yusuf, it was a dream in the making.

Losing the election in no way hinders the efforts of these tireless community leaders in advocating for the inclusiveness of Somali children and filling the achievement gap in Saint Cloud public schools.

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