by Chanel Ward
U.S. Representative Jared Polis spoke to over a hundred attendees at the Auraria Campus in Denver, CO, last week, as the Luncheon Keynote Speaker for the Higher Education Diversity Summit (HEDS365).
“We truly are more affective at translating advocacy into action when we make sure that we leave no one behind,”
Congressman Jared Polis
Polis was first elected in 2000 on the Colorado State Board of Education, where, over the course of six years he served as Vice-Chairman and Chairman. He was then elected Representative for Colorado’s Second Congressional District in 2008 and serves on numerous committees, caucuses, and coalitions in addition to the founding of his own charter schools and being one of seven House Democrats chosen to serve on the No Child Left Behind Act.
“To me, the Every Student Succeeds Act was very personal, rewriting and replacing the No Child Left Behind was one of the reasons I ran for Congress, and represents the basic, Federal, Civil Rights Act Stop to ensure that all kids are served in our schools,” explained Polis.
The Summit, which has presented many great keynote speakers over the last seven years since its start in 2011, chose the topic, ‘Tipping Point: Advocacy To Action’. The morning began with Colorado State Rep. Leslie Herod of House District 7, who delivered the Morning Keynote and is the first African American LGBT candidate elected to the State Legislature. Rep. Herod’s extensive experience in social services, criminal justice, mental health, and anti-poverty issues has led her to be at the forefront of setting progressive policy and passing many pieces of legislation in her freshman year to the Governor’s desk. She currently serves on the House committees of Judiciary, Finance and Legal Services.
Polis acknowledged the great keynotes before him, including his friend in office, Rep. Herod.
“I want to focus on whatever experience I can offer in terms of advocacy into action and celebrating different aspects of identities that I’m proud of,” said Polis. “I talk about education, immigration advocacy, LGBTQ equality causes – as many of you know, I spent my life advocating for change and turning advocacy into action.”
Polis has founded two charter schools, the New America School and the Academy of Urban Learning, which educates homeless teens, or teens struggling at home in unstable environments.
“We all bring different identities to who we are, and I really start from the place of believing that diversity is a strength and if you believe diversity is a strength, the more we have of it, the better,” explained Polis. “The better the outcome will be, the better the result will be for business, for an educational project and yes, even in advocacy. We are now celebrating the intersectional nature of advocacy and making sure that we lift all people up together, from all different aspects of diversity.”
“We truly are more affective at translating advocacy into action when we make sure that we leave no one behind,” said Polis on inclusivity.
The Congressman also acknowledged his areas of concentration being education and his hands-on approach to put advocacy into action.
“To move from advocacy to action in that case meant, not just talking about we need to serve English language learners, we need to serve new immigrants, we need to have better programs in our public schools in each community; that’s advocacy,” said Polis. “To say ‘you know what? I’m going to do it!’ And I’m going to recruit teachers, find the buildings, get the charter, all the things that we need to do to be able to actually open our door. Action!”
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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