The Learning First Alliance (LFA) is happy to announce the Oct. 4 launch of the #HerefortheKids campaign.

The Learning First Alliance and its 13 member organizations have come together around a very important purpose: To empower and provide parents, teachers and other stakeholders with a clear way to express and make visible their support for public education. We are #HerefortheKids.

American schools educate nearly 50 million students each year and are staffed by more than 6.5 million educators, administrators and support professionals. Ninety percent of children in the United States attend public schools.

Our schools form the hub of many communities, providing a safe environment for children, a gathering place for residents, and opportunities to enjoy and participate in learning, athletics and the arts.

Public education is the most important investment America makes in its future. It is a tangible expression of our values and our aspirations. Education inspires students’ natural curiosity, imagination, and love of learning. Schools that nurture these values today are growing tomorrow’s inventors, innovators, artists, and leaders.

The promise of public education is to meet the individual needs of each and every student, while offering comprehensive education and services for all children who walk into their local school.

We need to do a better job of shining a light on the successes of our public schools in doing exactly this. We will accomplish this through sharing stories from across America – and demonstrating that we are #HerefortheKids in each and every American community.

The past several years have demonstrated to us how truly committed American educators are to helping children thrive despite unprecedented challenges. Local educators and school leaders have earned our respect.

Yet, today, educator recruitment and retention is a very serious issue. The pandemic exacerbated educator burnout and exposed long-standing issues, including low teacher compensation, unsupportive working conditions, and societal perceptions of the profession that has led to educators feeling devalued. These factors are creating recruitment challenges for school districts and a dearth of high-quality candidates for numerous positions, including teachers, classroom aides, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodial staff, and food service staff.

Despite all of these challenges, our schools have persevered. But they need our help to ensure a bright future for the students they serve.

The latest NAEP data clearly show that the pandemic led to lost learning opportunities for many American students and the need for new approaches to academic recovery. Today’s students are experiencing a crisis of belonging and a crisis of opportunity. One-third of 15-year-olds report not feeling like they belong in their school, while stress, anxiety, and depression among students is already at record levels and rising. These stressors also impact their ability to learn and thrive – and public education must do more to support these needs.

Yet, NAEP data also reminds us that schools matter. In-person learning is vital to ensure the continuity of education for every child. We must ensure healthy and safe school environments to avoid future learning disruptions. And it is time for expanded engagement, integrating technology in a meaningful and deliberate way, and expanding professional learning, all with a continued focus on what’s most important: the kids.

This work is critical. We refuse to let well-funded opponents from outside our communities undermine public education through misinformation and false narratives. We will lift up our voices to communicate the real American narrative about public education.

As a nation, this is our moment of opportunity to step up to the challenge and elevate public education like never before. Our future depends on it.

The imperative is clear: Every child has the right to an education that helps them reach their full potential.

To this end, the Learning First Alliance and our partners are launching a new campaign: #HerefortheKids. Through this critical effort, we aim to:

  1. Improve support for public education.
  2. Reflect shared values and principles around children as priorities.
  3. Raise awareness about the good work taking place in public schools.

The #HerefortheKids campaign brings together families, educators, and community members to support their local schools. Although we sometimes disagree on how to get there, we can come together around our shared values of ensuring every child feels accepted, believes they can succeed, and builds the critical skills to succeed in a diverse world.

When we support public education, we support our kids.

We are excited to share with you voices from across America, united in the cause of embracing and celebrating public education as a pillar of our democratic society and as a doorway to our collective future as a nation.

We are #HerefortheKids.