Education Perspectives

S2 EP4 Nema Brewer - Protecting Educators and Building Community Trust

February 22, 2024 Liza Holland Season 2 Episode 4
S2 EP4 Nema Brewer - Protecting Educators and Building Community Trust
Education Perspectives
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Education Perspectives
S2 EP4 Nema Brewer - Protecting Educators and Building Community Trust
Feb 22, 2024 Season 2 Episode 4
Liza Holland


Nema Brewer
Accidental Activist

Quote of the Podcast – 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”- James Baldwin 

Introduction of Guest BIO – 

A working mom and wife, Nema became an accidental activist for public education in 2017 and hasn’t shut up since 


Agents of Change: Leaders/Innovators

  •  30,000 Ft. View – Why so we, as a society invest in education?
  • What drew you to education?
  • What do you love about what you do?
  • Teacher & public school staff retention
  • United We Stand 120
  • Tell us a story or favorite memory about your work in education
  • What are the biggest challenges to you?
  • What would you like decision makers to know?

Podcast/book shoutouts

Support the Show.

Education Perspectives is edited by Shashank P at

Intro and Outro by Dynamix Productions

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Show Notes Transcript


Nema Brewer
Accidental Activist

Quote of the Podcast – 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”- James Baldwin 

Introduction of Guest BIO – 

A working mom and wife, Nema became an accidental activist for public education in 2017 and hasn’t shut up since 


Agents of Change: Leaders/Innovators

  •  30,000 Ft. View – Why so we, as a society invest in education?
  • What drew you to education?
  • What do you love about what you do?
  • Teacher & public school staff retention
  • United We Stand 120
  • Tell us a story or favorite memory about your work in education
  • What are the biggest challenges to you?
  • What would you like decision makers to know?

Podcast/book shoutouts

Support the Show.

Education Perspectives is edited by Shashank P at

Intro and Outro by Dynamix Productions

Liza Holland [00:00:02]:
Welcome to education perspectives. I am your host, Liza Holland. This is a podcast that explores the role of education in our society from a variety of lenses. Education needs to evolve to meet the needs of today and the future. Solving such huge issues requires
understanding. Join me as we begin to explore the many perspectives of education. Alright, friends and neighbors. We are so excited to have with us Neema Brewer, and her bio is just so awesome. She's a working mom and wife. Neema became an accidental activist for public education in 2017 and hasn't shut up since. Welcome to Education Perspectives, Neema.

Nema Brewer [00:00:47]:
Thank you, Liza. I appreciate being on here. I feel incredibly fancy and like I've arrived. So for being on this podcast, I appreciate it.

Liza Holland [00:00:55]:
Well, I am so excited to have you here. This is my little passion project. I feel like education is such an important part of our society, so love to be getting all the different perspectives and voices on. And you have had some interesting things going on, girl, So to chat with you about that. So let's kick it off with the question I ask every guest. From a 30,000 foot view, why do you think that we, as a society, invest in education?

Nema Brewer [00:01:23]:
Well, you know, for me, and I'm sure a lot of people say this to you, but for me, it is the great equalizer. It's where we learn how to be citizens. It's how we learn how to be good neighbors. It's where we learn how to get along. It's where we learn that people aren't exactly like us in this world. It's where we, I guess, learn how to be a civil society. It's where we learn again, it it goes back to people aren't just like us. And it really is the place where we all should be starting from the same starting point.

Nema Brewer [00:01:56]:
And where if that does happen and lives change, directions, courses can change, pads change, in our public schools so much more than just learning. And the a, b, c's, and the 1, 2, three's go on in our public schools and behind the walls. And I don't think that people really understand, especially in today's society. There's so many things that wonderful things that bloom and grow in our public schools.

Liza Holland [00:02:23]:
Okay. So tell me what drew you to education.

Nema Brewer [00:02:26]:
Well, my grandma was an educator and it was not the career that she ever thought she would be in. My papa died very young. He had black lung and, it killed him very, very young. And so, in preparation for his death, my grandma went back to school and became a teacher. And so, because that was the job that you could do as a woman back in those days. And she still had 2 kids to raise. My mother was 18 when my papa passed away. So she was already married, you know, then you get married and you moved out.

Nema Brewer [00:03:00]:
And so she was already married at the time. And so but my grandma had 2 other kids to get raised and out of the house. And so she became a teacher. And she got her master's degree in her rank one. And she was actually really, really good at it. She walked the picket line back in the early seventies eighties for a nickel race. And I remember her doing that, and I remember her telling the stories of being a teacher. I remember her grading her papers at night and with this calculator that was this little Texas Instruments calculator, you know.

Nema Brewer [00:03:32]:
And I remember how proud she was to do that. My grandma passed away. I always get choked up because when we started really paying when I started really paying attention to our pension system and I'm not a teacher. I wanna be really clear about that, Liza. I was a employee for Fayette County Public Schools for 18 years. And as a salaried 12 month employee as a graphic designer, I was in the teacher retirement system. So, that's kinda how I got into all this because our money was intertwined. Right? And so when all of this stuff I started hearing about the pension stuff about 2015.

Nema Brewer [00:04:09]:
And I always really was appreciative of public aid, my grandmother, like I said. And I'm a product of public education. My daughter goes to Fayette County Public Schools. And so but I really started paying a lot of attention to the money situation and I was talking to my grandma about that who had already retired at this point. We started talking about it about 2015. And 2016 came along, and I was really worried about it. And she said, well, you don't think they're gonna take our money, do you? And I said, I don't know. But if they do, we're gonna have some issues because, you know, that pension was the only thing my grandma had.

Nema Brewer [00:04:44]:
She couldn't get my papa off Social Security.

Liza Holland [00:04:46]:
Mhmm. And that's something a lot of people don't understand is that the teachers don't have any access to Social Security.

Nema Brewer [00:04:53]:
They don't. And if they do, it's very minimal. And it's because of the hours that they were able to bank prior if they had a career prior.

Liza Holland [00:05:01]:

Nema Brewer [00:05:02]:
So, anyway, back to the issue. So, basically, I got involved because I was concerned for her and I was concerned for myself as well. And I started really paying attention. And, really, my grandmother has been the guiding force behind a lot of this. Her resilience, her ability to keep fighting when their fight seems completely hopeless to basically say this area has worth. I'm from Eastern Kentucky. You know, my grandma never gave up on the region. Never left the region.

Nema Brewer [00:05:41]:
You know, she passed away a few years back and she still is the catalyst for a lot of the work that I do because she really believed in community and the public school as the epicenter for this community. And after she retired, she started a clothing bank for working women who maybe couldn't afford. You know that. And all these other things. So, really and truly, that's kind of where my stuff started. And it's really I think, Liza, when you start getting into advocacy work, you start with one thing and then you realize that it's an onion.

Liza Holland [00:06:15]:
Yes, indeed.

Nema Brewer [00:06:16]:
And that everything is intertwined and then you have a decision to make. Do you ignore the other layers, or do you start to fix the obvious issues that are really causing and exasperating the other issues? And so, what I decided to do was just jump in and say nothing changes until all these things change.

Liza Holland [00:06:42]:
That is really inspiring, and I love the intergenerational inspiration about it. And I think that there's not enough people out there that really understand the intricacies of what public employees are looking at. And, you know and so like you say, there's an onion there to be peeled. And just when you think you've got 1 licked, another one presents itself. But can can you tell me a little bit more about the beginnings? You know, you start your advocacy efforts?

Nema Brewer [00:07:22]:
So I'm a cofounder of people who don't know the 120 Strong movement, which started in 2018, officially. In 2017, the, electeds in Frankfurt, the legislature, decided that they were going to change the pension system. And they went on this tour throughout the state trying to sell this great plan by, at the time, governor Matt Bevin. And, so they were having these listening tours and all this stuff. They quickly found out that that was probably not a good idea. Right? And so, a lot of public employees were showing up and state employees because at the time, state employees were included in this master plan. So, what had happened and everything, you know, this is one of the things this is why I say it's accidental. A lot of things I've noticed in this journey that has I've I've been swept up into has all been these really beautiful coincidences.

Nema Brewer [00:08:20]:
And so, I go to this meeting. It was here at Douglass, Frederick Douglass High School right down the street from me. And I go in and I don't know anybody except, you know, my coworkers or something like that. And I go in and I'm there to speak you know, see my senator. At the time, it was Ralph Alvarado. And a woman comes up to me And I hadn't seen her since college, so it'd been, like, you know, 15 years something crazy. She comes up to me and she's like, Nima, oh my gosh. She was like, will you come after this, can we go have a drink with so and so and so and so? I work for the state and I had gone to college with her.

Nema Brewer [00:09:03]:
Right? And she goes, I work for the state now in the retirement system. Okay. And a couple of friends of mine who work for the state have just started this page to give the state employees information about the pension, and they got 15,000 people on it. It's called United We State, and they wanna do a rally, but we don't have any idea how to do it. And we saw you got kicked out of the capital in January for arguing about right to work. And I had because I had gotten involved in watching what was going on in Frankfort with pensions and with working folks because of my daddy and my the year before. And my dad was a United Mine worker. And at the time, the federal government and Mitch and everybody was messing with his pension from the United Mile Murders.

Nema Brewer [00:09:58]:
So and whenever they did right to work, I was up there at the capitol that day, you know, screamed, hey, you know, this is wrong. Y'all hate labor. And I got I didn't know what was going on, and they showed me the door. And so I had kinda earned this little pseudo reputation that I didn't even know about because, again, totally accidental. Totally. You know? Yeah. And I just, you know, fired off my mouth because I was, you know, 606, mad as I could be up there with my daddy. And so they said, can you help? And I said, well, I don't know nothing about a rally, but we can, you know, we're smart women.

Nema Brewer [00:10:37]:
We can get this figured out. So we met. I said, well, we can do something here. So we had the 1st rally in November of 20 seventeen, and it was United We Stand. And by, I guess, it was February of the of 2018, It was becoming real clear that this was not stopping and that nobody was stopping it. And by March, the beginning of March, a friend of mine in Louisville said something's gonna have to happen. And I don't think the teachers can do it, but we're gonna have to have them because they're the largest block. And they are a powerhouse when they wake up.

Nema Brewer [00:11:14]:
And I started thinking back to my grammy on the picket line and on what she said. And she told me. She said she said, you know, Pat, I didn't do it just for me. I did it for the future. And I said, well, if they can't say some things that need to be said, I can say it because I am not bound by professional standards. But this is my money too. And so, I just opened my mouth. And I guess it resonated, Liza.

Nema Brewer [00:11:45]:
It resonated. And, the next thing I know, I said and we were watching West Virginia. Because if you remember, at that time, it was the wave. You know? But it was started in West Virginia. And so, being from Eastern Kentucky and having those coal mining roots and watching these sons and daughters of coal miners in West Virginia rise up. Flamingo County and shut it all down. Really stirred, you know, this Mhmm. Eastern Kentucky blood.

Nema Brewer [00:12:15]:
And I said, I connected with some folks. We connected. We learned all we could. And in 3 weeks, we taught ourselves. We connected with people we didn't even know. It was And I'm a tell you, Liza. It was women. It was mostly women.

Nema Brewer [00:12:30]:
Men supported us and were behind the scenes, but it was women. Moms. Single moms who had never raised their voices before from every corner of this county, on this state. Every 120 counties. And in 3 weeks, we taught ourselves how committees had worked. We taught ourselves how bills work. None of us knew. We taught ourselves all these things.

Nema Brewer [00:12:50]:
We identified legislators. And in 3 weeks, we'd shut down 30 counties in the state and nobody knew where it came from. But it was pure grassroots passion, anger, and rage. And I've never seen anything more beautiful or terrifying in my entire life. I mean, for real. It was amazing. I've never seen anything so organic. So Kentucky.

Nema Brewer [00:13:14]:
I've never seen Kentucky in my lifetime do that kind of stuff.

Liza Holland [00:13:17]:
Oh, that's just it's so inspiring because that's democracy at its absolute finest right there. Yep. It's at its absolute finest, and I resonate with that a lot. You know, back when you and I got to work together, I was, in heavily involved in PTA and started the Our Kids Can't Wait campaign for the funding for schools. And it's amazing to me how much learning you do as far as really realizing the whole process and how you get your voice heard and all those different pieces. And it sounds like you all did it in such a short amount of time and to such tremendous impact. That's just inspiring. That's advocacy at its finest.

Nema Brewer [00:14:02]:
I mean, it was truly amazing. And I think what's really, to the credit of a lot of folks, a lot of us are still together. We're still fighting the fight. We're family. You know, we care. And the greatest thing too is just to see how many folks have kept their voice and have risen even more to you know? I mean, my goodness. I mean, that has been the most amazing thing. And none of us today are the same person that we were.

Nema Brewer [00:14:30]:
I mean, you know, the confidence. But the most amazing thing is I think that we've, I would hope that we've made a difference for kids in our communities. And I would hope that we have shown people that just because you're not high up on some food chain or the totem pole, that you can make a difference. When you all move together, right, under 1 singular mission, you can do something. And we got Bevan out of there. I will forever believe that our pushing and pushing and standing together was the difference in that race. I would 5,000 votes And I'm gonna tell you we earned every single one of them because we did not stop in 2018. We knocked on doors across this commonwealth.

Nema Brewer [00:15:18]:
We busted our tails. We knew that we were probably gonna be separated with, like, legislative seats. But the statewide, they could not separate us. They could not gerrymander us. And so, you know, it was really it was something to behold. And I'm gonna tell you, I'm just humbled to be a small part of it. I tell people, I'm like, listen. I'm not a teacher.

Nema Brewer [00:15:41]:
I just get to hang out with a bunch of them, and they are some amazing folks and support staff. You know? Support staff, they're amazing people.

Liza Holland [00:15:49]:
There are so many different people that make our education system work. That was part of my inspiration for starting this podcast is realizing it's although teachers are an amazing people that are so underappreciated, and that was part of the impetus. But so many people are involved, tangentially even. The system itself is what our communities live and die on and what our future is all about. So very important piece of society to be involved in. Can you tell us a little bit more about the different onion layers that you are uncovering and what you're involved in now?

Nema Brewer [00:16:29]:
So what we decided so after we went through all of this crazy stuff, of course, we hit COVID. And, then we really saw, I think, the worst in a lot of people. We saw the best in people, but then simultaneously, it was almost like overnight there was this shift into this absolute divide. And, what we started noticing amongst the 120 Grassroots group, which, you know, we have almost 40,000. At our peak, we had about 40,000 folks in that group. And now we have about 35,000, so we're we're holding steady.

Liza Holland [00:17:05]:
Amazing retention rate when you didn't have the well, I mean, seriously, when you don't have, like, the issue that you're backing, that's got a lot of staying power. That's that's Yeah.

Nema Brewer [00:17:14]:
You know, we're pretty proud of that. But the thing is is so I think it's because people trusted us and they still do. And and I think that's really important. Basically, after that, we hit COVID and we started noticing that there was a divide, not just between the rank and file, but there was a clear divide between the community and the schools. It was starting to show itself. And, it started to become incredibly ugly in a way that I was completely shocked by. And, I started getting really protective of some of my folks because it was hurtful to a lot of people that I care a lot about. And I just kept thinking, oh my god.

Nema Brewer [00:17:59]:
Like, if my grandma, like, knew that this was being said about public educators, you know? Like, oh my gosh. Like, thank God she didn't have social media. You know? Like, woo. I mean, it was just it was really sad. And I kept thinking, these are the people that you go to church with that are saying this. Like, these are the people that are on the little league. Like, you know, auxiliary with you. I mean, and you're talking about them this way? Like, you're saying that they're and then it's just evolved into this really nasty accusations of grooming and pedophilia.

Nema Brewer [00:18:38]:
And just, you know, teaching them all. And I I mean, it's so it's turned into this really disgusting thing, and it's just been festering. And Mhmm. You know, we started really thinking, how do we fix this? You know, because at its core, the community and the public schools function simultaneously together. That's how they succeed. And 1 function they cannot function in a healthy way without each other. And they need each other. And so we just started thinking, what is it that we can do? And so, we really started thinking, first of all, we've got we've got to get back in our community.

Nema Brewer [00:19:18]:
We can't be siloed off anymore. We just can't. And so, you know, we were like, what's the direction? Do we keep the 120 alive? Are we done? I'm gonna tell you, I was done. I was like, you know what? A lot of our folks were done because, you know, we had to let me tell you. It's not all unicorns and rainbows. And it's not you lose more than you win. And, you know, and people are just ugly. And I got to a point where I was just done with people in general.

Nema Brewer [00:19:48]:
And so, you know, it takes a toll. It takes a toll on your family. It takes a toll on your own kid. It takes a toll on everything. And so, you know, I said, listen. I said, I I'm not sure what the future is, but we all need to kinda figure it out. And so, in June well, in December, this was a couple years ago. This is right when we were coming out of COVID.

Nema Brewer [00:20:11]:
We had gotten a message from Ed Massey, representative Ed Massey, and he's trying to come back. He was beat, but he's trying to come back. But, anyway, he reached out and said, hey. We'd love to get the one twenty's approval. We're working on this pension bill for new hires. And I was like, and but, you know, we've got all the k groups, which, you know, we call the k groups that k education groups, you know, the superintendent association, CASA, you know, all that stuff. All the k groups are loving it. They're in on it.

Nema Brewer [00:20:43]:
But we want to get you all too. And I'm like, alright, Ed. So me and Jenny Ward, who is, was our zone 6 leader, which is Lexington area. Well, I said, Jenny, let's go up to Frankfort. And so we drove up there 1 night on December. We sit down with him and Kim Banta, another representative, and they start selling us this great story about pensions for the new hires and it's gonna be this great hybrid plan. And I said, now are they gonna get Social Security, Ed? And he says, well, no. And I said, well, I'm sorry.

Nema Brewer [00:21:18]:
We're just not interested in this plan. And he said, well, everybody else is interested. And I said, well, we're not everybody else. And then I said, plus, I said, our one of our main things is we no new hire. No new hire pension system. It's like one of the top things. Like, no new tiers, no new hire pension system. And so I was like, thanks for the meeting, and we were done.

Nema Brewer [00:21:41]:
And on the way back from that meeting, as soon as we were walking out the door, I looked at Jenny and I said, we're calling American Federation of Teachers. And that was when we knew that it was time if we were ever going to be seen as legitimate in Frankfurt because, you know, they wanted you to have, you know, some fancy structure and all. They wouldn't let us testify sometimes. You know? Like, they would never invite us because we didn't have a K.

Liza Holland [00:22:10]:
Official. Yeah.

Nema Brewer [00:22:11]:
Correct. That was one of their excuses. Right? So, they were always chasing this. And we had been doing research on American Federation of Teachers over the work that they do in their communities because social justice and the community are 2 major things that AFT really wants their charters and their locals to also focus on. So, it's almost like a parallel mission. Not only and so we called them and they said, well, we don't have a a noncompete clause in Kentucky. Let's talk. And so by January, we were talking to them.

Nema Brewer [00:22:54]:
And by March, we were like, we're out and we're forming our own, and we've been doing that since. And I'm gonna tell you, I said at the time, I'd rather build than beg. And building is harder than anything that you will ever do in life. But I'm gonna tell you, it's been worth every tear, every struggle, every gnashing of teeth. Because we are charting our own path. And the goal here, Liza, is community. Is going back the old school stuff. Right? Like Yeah.

Nema Brewer [00:23:29]:
Community schools. Like, AFT is a huge like, they've invested $5,000,000 in support of community schools across this country. You know, we've invested 1,000,000 of dollars to give away free books for kids. And we've actually been able to provide those here in Fayette County. For the last 2 years. We've given away about 45,000 free books to kids, including books that had been banned, you know, for no reason. And those were the 1st ones to go. You know, books like I Love My Hair, you know.

Nema Brewer [00:24:02]:
I mean sorry about that. That was my HR director, the Corgi. Like, we have been able to do these things and we formed a community coalition of people who nor who do the work in the trenches and have for a long time, but never get a seat at the table. And the reason why is because that's how we felt, like outsiders. Right? Like, the ones that never get invited to the chicken dinner but had been doing the work. You know, the heavy lifting. The doers. Absolutely.

Nema Brewer [00:24:36]:
Yeah. So our focus is let's get back to the community, man. Like and let's not do it as a transactional ally. Let's do it as an everyday mission.

Liza Holland [00:24:46]:
See, I love that.

Nema Brewer [00:24:47]:
Yeah. How can you help us?

Liza Holland [00:24:49]:
It's been like a checkbox. Okay. We're doing family and community engagement, and we're reaching out to industry. And, okay, we checked that box, and now we can keep doing what we're and I just really feel that for the health of our future, we have got to get back to where it takes a village to raise these kids. We have got to get back there. And I tell you what, part of the reason why some, in my personal opinion, nefarious characters are able to sell this story about grooming and all this kind of stuff is that they're not actually in schools. They're not in there. They're not seeing happen every day, and, I mean, that was my first reaction when I started hearing some of the stuff that was coming up at the legislative level.

Liza Holland [00:25:33]:
I'm like, you've gotta be kidding me. This has so little to do with what's really important in schools. You've obviously not been there. And I think that there are people that are trying to spin narratives and trying to upset people that are just not spending time in schools. They're they're trying to rally opposition just for the sake of rallying opposition, and I would love it if we could get back to what's really important. How can we better prepare our kids? How can we give them deeper, richer learning experiences, and how can the community help to collaborate with that? Because Yes. You know? I mean, we've got all this stuff with AI and the Internet and everything else. It's not about content anymore.

Liza Holland [00:26:16]:
It's about how you process information and how you are a lifelong learner. Yes. And, lordy, that's the rallying cry that I wanna be hearing, not banning books and none of this other garbage.

Nema Brewer [00:26:27]:
Like, and so with AFT, it's like a like I said, like, it's a whole thing. We're unleashing it, unleashing it. This year, it's basically what kids and communities need. It's not about this whole thing. It's basically looking at this mess that has been created by all this rhetoric and all this stuff and saying, hold on. What's really going on here? So I was in Frankfort this week and and I was there. I had talked to some folks about our priorities for the legislative session. And, I'll tell you, one of the other things that we really feel strongly about is that we have forgotten as a, I guess, a unit.

Nema Brewer [00:27:04]:
Right? When you talk about public education employees. We have forgotten as a unit that really and truly where we need to be fighting our fight right now is at the local level. Because we have completely lost. Frankfort is a wasteland. And you can hold your own and do the best you can, but you are going to get your high man whipped in Frankfurt. You can guarantee it, right? And so, what we're trying to do with 120 AFT Fayette is we're trying to reconnect with our city council. I'm amazed at how many council members I've talked to on the fly, and they've been like, oh my goodness. Thank you for inviting us to your book event.

Nema Brewer [00:27:46]:
We've never been invited. And I'm like, well, we need you just as much as we need because one of the issues that we really have been looking at has been affordable housing in Fayette County. A lot of our employees don't even live here because they can't afford it. And there's a whole lot of buy in that you're losing If you don't feel a part of the community because you don't live in that community, it's a lot easier for you not to care as much about that area. Right? So we want our employees to be able to live in the area that they serve. And so there's and, plus, let's talk about our kids that are constantly having to be moved further out. Their parents can't afford rent. There's no consistency from k through 5 or 6 through 8.

Nema Brewer [00:28:32]:
These are issues that are real, that affect the kids' learning, that affect the learning environment, the working conditions of schools and employees in those schools. And those are things that can be addressed, but not at Frank in Frankfort. Those are things that can be addressed right here in Fayette County and they should be. And the educators and public school employees absolutely should be in part of those conversations because collective power and collective voices matter. And that is the key. And what I see here and what I see in these issues, there's too many silos. Too many people want to be helped want to get credit for the work. Too many people want to get the pat on the back.

Nema Brewer [00:29:21]:
We don't want a pat on the back. We want people to do right by our kids. We want people to listen. And I think, Liza, that's another thing. Too many times as adults, we decided if we don't like somebody, their idea sucks. What we've got to do to get back our community and to get back some of this stuff, we've got to grow up. And we've got to invite dissenting voices to the table and say, how have we failed you? What can we do to earn your trust again? If you were to say that to somebody if you were to say that to me, I would immediately be like, woah. Liza, has anybody sit down that's ever that you've ever felt like you're not getting heard? Has if has anybody ever sat down and said that to you?

Liza Holland [00:30:12]:
I guess I'm going to have to say, yes. I have actually had that happen.

Nema Brewer [00:30:16]:
That's awesome. That's why

Liza Holland [00:30:17]:
it's so amazing and unique. Yes. And I actually just finished a program with the Harwood Institute about being a catalytic community guide. And just it's some of that is choosing who you run with and gathering people together to realize that, okay, we may not about all the fine details, but let's sit down and think about what we can.

Nema Brewer [00:30:41]:
What can we do?

Liza Holland [00:30:42]:
And how can we move the needle, even if it's something really small.

Nema Brewer [00:30:46]:
Let's Yeah.

Liza Holland [00:30:47]:
Let's get together, let's build trust amongst one another, and let's really get back to where we feel comfortable again. Because you're right, it's gotten ugly. And

Nema Brewer [00:30:57]:
And we might not ever

Liza Holland [00:30:58]:
None of us can sit back and not do anything.

Nema Brewer [00:31:00]:
That's right. Because not doing anything and just being angry gets us nowhere. And it hurts our kids. You know? And I keep thinking, we've gotten comfortable with the 60% being good enough. But we got 40% that have, for generations, have been underserved. And it's time for us as a community and as public school advocates, activists, to say, let's not fear the 40 and any of the failures that we've had. Let's face them. Let's own them, and let's work to fix it, you know? Because if we don't, we're just going to continue down this road and we're going to find ourselves in trouble.

Nema Brewer [00:31:46]:
A lot of trouble. And we're right now at that cliff. We managed to hold off, but we're right at that cliff. And it's up to us. It's up to all of us to fix it. And I think we can, but we have to change ourselves. And we have to be honest with ourselves. And I'm gonna tell you, Liza, you know, I've changed a lot.

Nema Brewer [00:32:05]:
I am not the same person that I was 6 years ago. And, you know, and I think it's because when you do this work and you see things and you start questioning, what was my responsibility in some of this system? And then you start thinking, I have I'm culpable as well in some of this. You know? And then you think, how can I fix that?

Liza Holland [00:32:30]:
I think we all need to approach it in a humble from a humble posture that I don't know everything. I know I have my perspective, but there are other perspectives out there, and everybody deserves to be heard.

Nema Brewer [00:32:43]:
Yeah. I learn every day. Every day.

Liza Holland [00:32:45]:
Inspire me. Lord, you inspire me. And, honestly, that whole call to action right there is probably a good place to leave it, but I'm gonna ask you 1 more question. What would you like for decision makers to know? That could be decision makers in Frankfurt. That could be decision makers as voters. That could be decision makers in schools. What would you like them to know?

Nema Brewer [00:33:09]:
I think that what I would like decision makers to know and that's just across the board, and I think we kinda hit on it. You know, it's okay to talk less and listen more. It's okay to admit you don't have the an all the answers. It's okay to be afraid. And it's okay to admit that you're afraid. That would be what I would say to leaders. I would say to leaders that if you want to leave a legacy, then you've got to have people that buy into that mission. You just can't ramrod it.

Nema Brewer [00:33:38]:
Like, you actually have to have people that buy into that legacy for it to be a legacy. If not, then your legacy is that you're a bully and that you really did things that your own way. And I would say to voters that you have to stay engaged even if it's you think it's pointless. It's never pointless. People that we have fought to get to win, for example, Sherilyn Stevenson. Almost every one of her elections, she's won by less than a 100 votes. They've been nail biters. But she's a true grassroots candidate.

Nema Brewer [00:34:12]:
And they keep throwing stuff people run at her, and we keep winning with her. And the reason why she's genuine and she's a hard worker. So don't ever give up on that. But mostly, never lose sight of your integrity. Never ever ever look at an issue at from one point of view. Always look at it across the board. And, basically, don't take yourself too seriously on anything because, you know, I mean, ain't none of us getting out of here alive anyway. And the Lord don't care how many degrees you got when you get to the pearly gates.

Nema Brewer [00:34:45]:
Trust me on that. He he's not gonna ask you. So just treat each other well, man. That that's all that matters. So let's speak that'd be my advice.

Liza Holland [00:34:54]:
Excellent advice. Thank you so much for being a part of Education Perspectives.

Nema Brewer [00:34:58]:
Absolutely. I appreciate you. It was good talking to you.

Liza Holland [00:35:02]:
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of education perspectives. Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page. Let us know which education perspectives you would like to hear or share. Please subscribe and share with your friends.