A Millennial Opportunity

Young educators have a chance to change the world of education

By Landen Schmeichel, SNDU President

In the early hours of Nov. 9, like many Americans, I found myself asking the question, “What now?” Precincts from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had just been announced in favor of Donald J. Trump — the man who will become the 45th President of the United States. And while the plurality of Americans voted for his Democratic opponent, America will now experience another wave of reform and change to our political system — a breath of fresh air for many, and a tremor of fear for the rest.

Landen Schmeichel, SNDU President

It is morning in America. No, not mourning — the kind of morning I woke up to on Monday. As I opened my eyes, I remembered that in just four short days I had five papers due, and a busy work schedule to confront my already tired brain. Because I chose to enjoy some family time during the Thanksgiving holiday over incessant coursework, I knew I shouldn’t complain. Instead, I recalled a quote from a British statesman and said in my head: “Let’s get it done.”

Much like my schedule, America will soon be saddled with the task of ruminating over a new executive’s policies, which will likely be as eclectic as his Twitter feed. As new political legislation is ushered in, America’s current educational structure will meet revision — vast revision if certain individuals have their way. Some changes may be good; some may bring our society and classrooms detriment. While the future is dubious and we find ourselves weary from a vicious political cycle, we must commit ourselves to furthering the benevolence of public education to strengthen our society and ultimately provide peace to our world.

As part of what many in the media and senior individuals at your local coffee shop may refer to as “millennials,” parcels of my generation are finding themselves in disarray. Though I do not identify with their drastic rhetoric of “end of the world” discussion as a result of both national and local elections, I am among this age group. From many people, I often hear that we — members of the millennial breed — are confused, lazy and ignorant. It is often stated that we jump on bandwagons without informing ourselves about both sides of an issue; we avoid hard tasks; and we will bring about the destruction of America. All of these ideas are as ill-informed as that last independent clause, though stereotypes are often not contrived. These ideas could find resonance in the description of every generation, with the possible exception of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” though.

While they offer ridicule, what many fail to realize about the millennial generation is the vast power that lies within our grasp. Composing a large percentage of Americans, we could significantly alter elections — if we turned out to vote. We could change things in our society through proper means and ways — if we chose productive methods. We could be the generation that Robert F. Kennedy spoke about — a generation that defines a lasting legacy in human history.

Millennials could do all of these things if we have the correct approach, the proper attitude. Our task may seem daunting. America must discover a way to unite, a way to inspire. America should seek a catalyst for positive change, for success of all people. But we will fail to do these things when we simply choose not to get them done.

When we close ourselves in and say, “It is someone else’s job.” When we suggest that a generation is incapable of bringing good to the order, and when we find more satisfaction in spreading malice in our words over charity, we then become what our stereotypes suggest. Thus, it is my generation’s duty to do what Winston Churchill spoke over the radio when Nazi-German bombs were dropped on London in the Second World War: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”

As President of Students-North Dakota United (SNDU), a leader for the next generation of public educators, I will join with my cohorts across this great nation to “brace” ourselves for our duties, to fight for what is best for our students, and to be remembered as a generation who “got it done.” Will you join me in this endeavor?

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