Today's education policy is "merely treating the fever we see and ignoring the cancer that causes it," writes John Kuhn, a Texas superintendent, in a powerful column on CNN. Kuhn cities the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign's "2020 Roadmap" as the vision to lead the systemic change needed in our public schools in order to provide every student with a fair opportunity to learn.
Over 100 student advocates from groups like the Dignity in Schools Campaign, D.R.U.M., Make the Road New York, and the Urban Youth Collaborative rallied last week at a public hearing held by the NYC Department of Education. The DOE announced a new draft of the city Discipline Code that begins to limit the number of minor infractions that subject students to suspension. But the student advocates at the hearing argued that the discipline policy reforms must go further to stop the criminalization of students.
A rockstar panel at Netroots Nation, including Diane Ravitch, John H. Jackson, and Ken Bernstein, tackled the future of public education, the importance of community organizing and the path towards systemic education reform to provide every child with a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.
Providing every child with a fair and substantive opportunity to learn is nothing less than a moral imperative. But as parent and student organizers across the country know all too well, today's education policies, which push competition and privatization, are not sufficient for "addressing the structural inequities that make separate and unequal education a persistent fact of life in America today," writes Rev. Jesse Jackson in a must-read column for CNN.
Thomas Beebe, Project Director, Opportunity to Learn - Wisconsin
Tuesday June 12th, 2012
Wisconsin's school funding system is "too complicated, too riddled with holes and too wrapped up in politics to do its job." Two important steps will go a long way towards reforming that broken funding system and getting students the resources they need to succeed.
17-year-old Andrea Lopez knows about the academic disadvantages poor students and students of color face because she has experienced them first hand. In a poignant essay, she describes her experience as a confident, studious high school student sitting down in an SAT prep class only to realize how underprepared she felt with the material compared to the wealthier, White students in the class. Her story is a vivid reminder of the necessity of ensuring that all students have access to a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.
Thanks to a lawsuit settlement reached between Southern Poverty Law Center and the public schools district of Jackson, MS, students will no longer be subjected to a brutal discipline policy that included handcuffing students to railings and poles for hours on end as punishment for offenses as minor as dress code violations.
Community advocacy groups across Massachusetts are taking a stand against Stand for Children, a formerly-grassroots group that has forsaken its community roots and begun trumpeting the pro-corporate education agenda of new big-money donors. In an open letter to Stand for Children, the MA community groups advocate for more student, parent and teacher voices in the education debate and condemn Stand for Children for ignoring those voices.
Skepticism should really be the order of the day when policymakers continue to use clever public relations to push privatization rather than deal with the country's inequities in access to educational opportunities.