Californians deserve great schools! All children across our 50 states deserve great schools. What makes a successful school? What’s in the secret sauce and how can we replicate it so that all kids across our nation have the opportunity to attain an excellent education?
Is it parental involvement, great teachers, inspired leadership from the Principal or Head of School, camaraderie (and not just in sports teams but between students, the administration, teachers and parents), a school culture that has high expectations for student achievement? There are a lot of wonderful schools, public, charter, magnet, private, religiously affiliated and independent. The problem is that not all children have access to these great schools and are forced to instead endure years in what many would call a “failing school.”
All great schools, regardless of their specific philosophy of education (progressive or traditional), must be doing something right and there’s no reason why all schools shouldn’t be high performing schools. Teach for America and charter schools that focus on serving students who live in poverty have proven that ALL kids can learn and that all kids can perform at the highest of levels. When I read about the statistics of high school graduation rates for traditional public schools–here in Los Angeles and across the nation–I am saddened but not shocked that the educational divide still exists.
There is an achievement gap and the only way that we are going to be able to close it is if each one of us, each parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent and concerned citizen stands up and demands change! If en masse, we all started attending our local school board meetings, if we all simply took the time to VOTE in school board elections, if we all raised our voices together in an organized way, what a powerful force of change we would be.
United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, once said that “I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation.” I couldn’t agree more.