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.
The following column was originally posted on The Answer Sheet blog.
In late March 2012, Massachusetts student advocates from Youth On Board and the Boston Student Advisory Council joined up with Chicago student advocates from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education at a press conference to push for the inclusion of student input in teacher evaluations in Chicago public schools. The MA students won their voice in teacher evaluations in June 2011. In April 2012, the Chicago public schools announced its new teacher evaluation system will include a pilot program for student feedback. The two groups of students connected at the 2011 National Opportunity to Learn Summit in Washington, D.C.
At the National OTL Summit in December, youth representatives from Boston and Chicago connected and discovered that they were working on similar campaigns to make student input a part of teacher evaluations. The Boston Student Advisory Council, working with groups like Youth on Board and Boston Youth Organizing Project, won their battle last summer and we featured their success on our blog.
It's a big week for studies focused the relationship between location and educational opportunity: First, the Schott Foundation's report on education redlining in New York City public schools that revealed city policies and practices systematically deny educational opportunities to the districts and schools with high percentages of poor and students of color.
With all the attention Finland has been getting in recent years, you might wonder why we can't just replicate what the Finns are doing and - PRESTO! - fix all the woes of the U.S. education system.
In 2010, the President set a goal for the U.S. to become the global leader in postsecondary degree attainment by the year 2020. Yet, more than 7,000 students, many of whom are not proficient in reading and math, are leaving or being pushed out of U.S. schools each day. This study shows that the U.S. cannot achieve the President’s 2020 goal if our schools continue to hemorrhage large segments of our nation’s youth. Accordingly, this document is designed to serve as a blueprint for implementing a comprehensive package of policy reforms that seek to increase the quantity of students who succeed at every stage of the educational pipeline and the quality of the education they receive. Different from most calls for reform, it considers the educational pipeline in its entirety—from early childhood through postsecondary attainment—and offers evidence‐informed strategies to boost access, quantity and quality at every stage.
This report from the National Institute for Early Education Research analyzes national and state statistics and trends on the availabilty of quality Pre-K programs across the country. The report includes detailed state profiles that measure not just access access to early education opportunities but also whether available Pre-K programs meet a set of 10 benchmarks for quality.
The good news: More students than ever are enrolled in Pre-K programs in the U.S. The bad news: The rising number of Pre-K students coupled with state education budget cuts across the country has drastically reduced per-child spending on Pre-K programs.
If policymakers want to play a bit of poker, they should save their gambling for the card table and keep it out of education reform. In a Huffington Post column, Schott Foundation President and CEO John Jackson calls the weak hand of the policymakers who are pushing for more privatization in our nation's public schools.