A New Era
Welcome to the New American Education System! Mrs. Betsy DeVos is now our Secretary of Education. She is a champion of the charter school movement. This stance is nothing new in the positions Sec. Arne Duncan also loved charter schools. However, the Trump Administration doesn’t seem to be quite as constrained by political and policy norms as the Obama Team.
Where I Come From
My parents went north during the great migration. My mother from Letohatchee, AL. My dad hails from Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. Humble beginnings, indeed. They met in New York City in the 60s. It was a good time to be in The City if you could keep your nose clean. Good jobs were available to Black people. Both my parents worked hard and got lucky, they both landed good union jobs with full benefits.
I was born a native New Yorker that was transplanted to Jersey City, NJ at the ripe old age of 36 (months). Like a lot of people, my parents worked in Manhattan but chose to live outside of The City That Never Sleeps. They were seeking a lower cost of living and a safer life for my brother and me. Concerning the former, the goal was to get their costs down enough to send us to private school. They made it happen. We both attended St. Paul’s-Greenville. My brother went on to St. Peter’s Prep, then Emory and Emory Law. I went to Marist High School. Ever the wanderer, I took the most round about and unorthodox path in life on the way to my degree. It spanned four continents, one war and twenty-five years. That is a story for another day.
I was not the best student. But, my parents instilled in me a healthy respect for education. My life taught me how right they were. My private school education took me a very long way. That sticks with me. I want more children to have a shot at a good, comprehensive education. That should be available in this country no matter where you live or how much money your parents make. Especially, in the richest, most powerful country in human history.
There is an ongoing debate on the value of charter schools. There may be a place for them. However, I am not a big fan, personally. They are a drain on precious public school resources, highly selective when it comes to students that can enroll (or stay), undermining labor protections for teachers and increasing race/class segregation. I also know that they are here to stay. As a person that believes in educational opportunity, it’s better to try to make the current system better than to sit around and grouse about what could/should be.
Because they are here and sure to grow, it would behoove us all to find a way to use them to provide opportunity, equity, and growth for all students. For instance, if you create an app or a new service, also offer a lower-cost alternative to communities of need. Equity and access are key:
“According to eSchool News, 87% of principals in schools across the socioeconomic spectrum identified barriers that start at home, including family or personal crises, a need for mental health services, poverty, hunger, healthcare needs and a lack of internet or books at home.”
Please read what our friends at the Alliance for Quality Eduction say about equity:
“Money matters; without adequate resources, schools cannot educate students. The availability of resources closely correlates with opportunities and outcomes. We believe school aid distribution should be based on student and school district need.”
Finding ways to lift people up and provide opportunity.
Opportunity Presents Itself in Turmoil
We have to view the coming upheaval as a chance for educators and entrepreneurs. But, a particular class of entrepreneurs. Ones that are in this field to provide quality services and products that do not just extract resources. This effort must be value-driven. We need outside-the-box thinkers. We need to work in a co-op fashion so that we can allow more people into the field of play even if they don’t have the resources. We must create models that can be spread quickly, even across the digital divide.
I have a project that I think can cover a lot of bases. But, I need some help. If you are in the field of education and have some time on your hands, please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/Ceul0hyQJ7wrUTV22
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