In the last few years, the American education system has been bludgeoned by changes that have upended decades of progress toward better academic, economic and social outcomes for all.

Politicians around the country have been aiming to demolish progressive policies by targeting teaching about race and ethnicity, the LGBTQIA+ community and women’s reproductive rights. Calls for book banning and censorship have become common. These dangerous culture wars will wreak havoc on education and education policy for years to come.

As a teacher and school-based leader, I always understood the necessity of advocating for students and helping them navigate life, and I tried to help other teachers change the trajectory of many lives.

I taught my students to respect the power of civic engagement and social activism. Recent politics has made it hard to extend that work. The rollout of Florida’s House Bill 1557, popularly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was the start of a radical transformation that threatens to undo decades of social change. Other states, including Indiana, Alabama, Ohio and Tennessee have followed Florida’s lead with legislation that is discriminatory against the LGBTQIA+ community. It must be resisted.

As teachers worry about losing their jobs for violating the often-vague language of these new laws, school boards have succumbed to the demands of the few over the best interests of the majority. Who suffers the most? The students.

There is a critical need to prepare teachers to be intentional voices calling out the oppression that continues to plague our education system. We must do this through teaching, learning and advocacy — as well as social activism and civic engagement.

I have trained in, taught and led educator preparation programs. In past years, these programs met societal and student needs through instruction on culturally responsive teaching, trauma-informed education, conscious leadership and many other progressive approaches. Our goals were not far-fetched or new.

Read the full article about teacher preparation for activism by Eugene Pringle Jr. at The Hechinger Report.