I work as the director of program and evaluation for a non-profit educational development organization, EdVisions Schools. We work with schools, communities, and other organizations in the U.S. and abroad. We have a network of just over 40 schools across the U.S. which we have helped create or transform. I have been lucky enough to teach at 2 of these schools which are absolutely amazing. (If you are interested in education, education reform or just plan quality public education you have GOT to visit one of these schools http://www.edvisionsschools.org) Anyway, we spend our days fighting for quality education for all students, quality educational options for parents and policies to allow for safe and supportive school environments which foster student engagement, grow student hope and raise student achievement. (www.hopesurvey.org). There are many days which I feel like I need a target that says, “bang head here.”
Each year 1.3 million students drop out of school. Every day there are students who don’t want to go to school because they don’t feel safe at school. They may be bullied, picked on, harassed, left out, hit, kicked….(and we don’t have to go far to see this, the YouTube video of the kids picking on the larger boy which made national news went viral) There are students who are bored, those who are so confused both of whom get frustrated and disenfranchised with the entire educational system…..
Meanwhile, we have continual budget cuts, consolidations, NCLB, National Common Core Standards, acronyms galore with for high stakes tests, teacher pink slips passed out like Pez candy…….
Even those in edreform are fighting against one another for what ‘real edreform’ looks like.
What should the U.S. Education System look like? Should we as a nation continue to strive to be #1 in education? Is it even possible to go from #22 to #1? Do we consider international comparisons, standards and assessments? Do we focus on closing the achievement gap? Do we allow for more educational options? Charters? Vouchers? CMO’s, EDO’s? Do we give schools local control? Do we leave it up to state departments of education? Do we continue to utilize a model of education which has been employ for hundreds of years? Should all schools be exactly the same? How should we fund schools? How should we evaluate teachers? What form of instruction should be use? Blended learning? 21st century learning? Differentiated instruction? Project Based Learning? Inquiry based learning? Do we address the whole child? Social emotional learning? Positive youth development?
There is certainly no shortage of questions.
This massive complex problem boils down to one word. Children.
Everyday that I struggle with the projects I am working on or hear ridiculous examples of people putting other things above the needs of the students I remember why I am here doing what I do. So that more students, families, communities can have quality educational options that meet each students individual needs. I am here to fight the fight for the students, families and communities that can’t.
Life doesn’t come with multiple choice questions and a scantron. We can’t even conceive the global challenges the youth of today will face tomorrow. We must provide them with the proper tools, skills and knowledge so that they may think for themselves to tackle those problems they have yet to face.
I believe it takes a village to raise and child and if we teach them how to fish they will fish for a lifetime.
I work each and every day to spread the word of innovative educational options that do just that.
We all need to do what is in the best interest of the children and sometimes that means giving them a voice to tell us what that might be. 🙂