Growing up in Jesuit schools, José Luis Vilson was instructed to write the letters AMDG, signifying ad majorem Dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”) atop all his papers.
In a recent opinion piece in National Catholic Reporter, Vilson, a mathematics teacher and Ph.D. student in Teachers College’s program in Sociology & Education, frames the message in terms likely to resonate with educators of all faiths (or none). “Every child needs a great school. We can't leave that up to the market,” he writes. “The Biden administration must create an educational system that allows for allocation of resources into every school regardless and because of their zip code and type. This means a system that holistically supports every school, not just financially, but spiritually as well.”
Vilson, an activist, author and speaker who now heads EduColor, an organization dedicated to race and social justice issues in education, became a teacher to fulfill the “ADMG mantra” His students, from poor or working-class families like his own, “taught me and others what it meant to live out our stated values, to stand up and fight back when things didn't work out for the children we serve, and to love our work deeply even when we took serious losses and bumps along the way.”
If God truly lives within each of us when two or more of us are gathered, then we need to make the spaces where we gather our youth the spaces we know serve them.
—José Luis Vilson
Calling for changes to address “ever-widening economic stratification, insufficient health care and environmental racism,” Vilson concludes: “In this way, I'm asking us to live out our stated values politically and spiritually. If God truly lives within each of us when two or more of us are gathered, then we need to make the spaces where we gather our youth the spaces we know serve them.”