How do we advance real reforms? Distinguish real from fake.
Reform means to make better.
- First, we focus — on determining the immediate needs of our students, teachers, and parents.
- Second, we invest in fixing the government institutions that are essential to making progress but have been corrupted, damaged or destroyed.
- Third, we put forth clear plans showing how each of us can play a part in rebuilding what was working and advancing real reforms where needed.
To support real reforms in our American public education system, we must focus on its systemic inequities. Unequal opportunities perpetuate the high poverty—low educational attainment—inadequate employment—poverty cycle. Consequently, progress towards the goal of educational equity halted and that is where this nation stands — still.
Here is what we can do.
FUND FAIRLY: Provide assistance in establishing equitable funding for all public school districts based on their specific student population and documented resource needs.
BASE DECISIONS ON GOOD INFORMATION: Re-establish Regional Educational Laboratories as cooperative public research and development centers that provide a no-cost, reliable source of education-related information on the array of problems schools across the country must solve.
FOSTER LOCAL SUPPORT FOR STUDENT LEARNING: Develop engaging, relevant local school curriculum — that offers a diverse range of educational experiences to students of varying talents, needs, and interests — through a process that ensures the racial and cultural values of the community are represented.
REFORM EDUCATION LAWS: Repeal laws that inadvertently proved harmful to public education and replace them with better policies developed through responsible and responsive decision-making processes involving students, parents, teachers and community members.
Currently, the yearly standardized testing mandate is the most costly and damaging low-hanging fruit. Therefore, eliminating it is the logical first step in freeing up funds for schools immediate needs? (Learn more about what our costly testing strategy did and did not do.)
Why do YOU need to join this effort now? As one teacher put it:
“We’re all in budget crises. We could cut tens of millions from large districts like mine by getting rid of standardized testing, test prep, trim our central office assessment department, and outside ‘data partners’ (high paid consultants). Not to mention all the time we would have back to — you know — actually teach.”
This single sensible action would shift our resources away from fake reforms and towards advancing real reforms. But it won’t happened until we push to change laws that put profits ahead of people. As a result, this effort needs a critical mass of people to stand-up against corporate parasites and for laws that support all students.
What will it take? People, a plan, and persistence.
People do care about public education. But the public remains unaware that education reform has been sucked into the swamp of corruption just like, it seems, all good intentions these days. Therefore, we have to move forward with a plan developed by people in-whom we trust.
And the only plan capable of advancing real education reform is one based on the principle that public education exists to help level the playing field for the next generation. There is no “but” here. A real reform plan —like we had in place in the 70’s— will advance that goal.
Let’s pick up where the progress stopped and continue on with the persistence necessary to finish the job.Minds need changing. Plans must be made and carried out to completion. If you aren’t currently an advocate for progress and an activist for educational equity, get busy learning the ropes!