Speak Up For Public Schools
Editor's Note: Our guest blogger today is Anne Foster. Anne is Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools, a national organization of community-based chapters that promotes and strengthens public schools by engaging, educating and mobilizing parents.
For parents of public school children in America, the conversation around public schools is critical. They have the shortest window of time to make sure their kids’ schools are good and that schools have the resources needed for a quality education. But the conversation about public schools today is either non-existent or extremely polarized. It’s time to change the conversation and come together across political lines to find solutions.
Things used to be simpler. Our public schools were central to our way of life. They became our foundation, and every community was built around one. We came to understand that a strong America meant good public schools for all of our children. Public education meant claiming the American dream. Teachers garnered honor and respect, and thanks to demographics, a large percent of adults had school-aged children.
Welcome to public education in the 21st century. Only about 25% of adults in America have kids in schools and so most are not closely connected with public schools. That hurts support for schools. Public schools receive everyone who comes, and that includes immigrant children who do not speak English, children who live in poverty, and children with other serious needs. Politicians have raised expectations and standards for schools. Over the last decade that we have lived with No Child Left Behind, there has been better transparency about the academic results for all kids. But some of its provisions have had negative effects on teachers, and its implementation has had daunting implications for school districts, including lack of funding. Now school reformers are pitted against status quo, on issues such as charter schools, teacher pay, vouchers, and high stakes testing. The result is what we see in so much of our national debate these days – two sides screaming at each other and assigning blame.
We know that some schools are failing our children. But why should we lump all public schools as “failing” when the facts don’t support that? Those schools that are failing and that have the high drop-out rates must be improved, with the acknowledgement that many such schools lost community support and resources long ago. But many public schools across the country are showing growth, progress, and student achievement. Our conversation should reflect that.
At a time when millions of people don’t have jobs, we are learning that millions more children are now living in poverty. We know that many under-educated young adults cannot support their families and that the unemployment rate is highest for those without a high school diploma. We’re being told that the “new jobs” will require a higher degree of math and science skills and that education is the key to a better economy. So what do we do? We cut funding to public schools, we lay off teachers, and we don’t have a meaningful conversation about how to strengthen and improve public schools for all children in America.
Public schools still offer the best hope for the future of our nation and for better economic times. We should insist on a dialogue that asks how together we can best support our public schools, which almost nine of out ten children in America attend. The conversation should include how we can provide the financial resources needed for reaching the standards we have set for our schools, how we can honor teachers and provide the professional development they need, and how we can treat parents as authentic and valued partners in their children’s education.
Parents for Public Schools has launched a national campaign to change the conversation around public schools. You can sign a petition asking elected officials to stop cuts to public education. You can also upload a short video telling what you love about your public school. You can be part of changing the conversation about public schools. Everyone has an interest in quality public schools, because everyone benefits when our citizens are well-educated. Join parents and others – speak up for public schools!
Sign the “Speak Up for Public Schools” online petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/speakupforpublicschools/
Upload your “Why I love Public Schools” video at http://speakupforourpublicschools.strutta.com/
Learn more about other ways you can help change the conversation about public schools at http://www.parents4publicschools.com/
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- Actress/Mathematician Danica McKellar on girls and math
- Best Selling Author Kenneth C. Davis on engaging with history
- Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Danielson on providing health care at school
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
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