Sunday, August 29, 2010

The "A" Word

Much of the current debate surrounding education reform forsakes a pedagogical agenda and the political morass obscures the merits of a free and appropriate public education.

Meanwhile, our economic climate has yet to stabilize and the fate of our children's education dangles precipitously. One million Massachusetts public school children cannot wait for the political dust to settle, they need us to speak up for their needs - now.

National education policy has typically been crafted around the expectation that schools alone can offset the full impact of low socioeconomic status on learning. Schools can (and have) ameliorated some of the impact of social and economic disadvantage on achievement. Improving our schools, therefore, continues to be a vitally important strategy for promoting upward mobility and for working toward educational excellence and equity. The difference now is that we all recognize that schools can't do this work alone.

Partnering with families and communities is integral to children's success in school - and in life. We need to support children's learning everywhere our children learn: at home, in preschool programs, in school, in before- and after-school opportunities, in recreation programs throughout the year including summer, and in faith-based and community sponsored opportunities.

Advocacy on this issue can take many forms. Certainly decision-makers at every level need to hear from an engaged constituency. Advocacy is like an ever-flowing river - one that you may step into at any place and at any time. And whether you choose to dip your toe in at the edge of the calm shore or wade all the way into the deep, your presence has changed the course. We won't gain ground if we choose to omit our voice in the schools, in Town or city government, or the Statehouse. It's important to learn the vocabulary - - and to create our own.