Education Opinion

Changing the National Narrative About Public Schools ... Next Steps

By Learning First Alliance — January 31, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Cheryl Williams, Executive Director, Learning First Alliance (LFA)

Over the past year, member organizations in the Learning
First Alliance (LFA) have shared their perspectives and expertise on the work
their members and stakeholders have led in support of public education
throughout their careers. If
you’ve had the opportunity to read some or all of these postings, you’ll know
that public education professionals are tireless in their work to meet the
needs of their students and that no silver bullet exists to “fix” what doesn’t
work in public schools. With this,
the final Transforming Learning post,
we reiterate what we know to be true as professional educators and seasoned
policymakers, community members, and parents--

Universal, publicly funded, education is our
country’s most important historic asset and needs commitment and support from
all of us, whether we currently have children in the schools or not, to succeed.

The work of meeting the needs and increased
achievement requirements for all our students is complicated, multi-faceted,
and nuanced.

Professional educators and elected school
officials at the state and local level in no way support the “status quo” when
that “status quo” has proven inadequate or unsuccessful in meeting student

Many, if not most, of our public schools do an
excellent job of supporting student achievement, but when they don’t, we all
need to work together to make the changes necessary to serve students well, regardless
of their socio-economic or family situation.

The knowledge and experience of public educators
and policymakers should be respected, heard, and acted upon, if sustainable,
systemic improvement is to be achieved in our public schools.

Strengthening public education requires a
collective effort, not one that appeals to individual self-interest in the
short term, but one that considers what’s best for all our children now and in
the long term.

All “reform” efforts need to be evaluated for
effectiveness, and when those initiatives work well, they should be shared
widely to scale up good practice.

And, finally, competition for dollars to fund
public schools saps time, energy and resources from the important work that
educators are involved in. Until we are ruthless in our examination of how we
fund our public schools, which currently results in poor communities with
insufficient financial and human support, we’ll not achieve the progress we

Next step for LFA is the launch this year of an
aggressive messaging campaign that will showcase public schools, districts, and
communities that are exemplary in their approach to meeting all their students’
needs. We plan to work at moving
the national narrative about public education writ large from “we’re failing”
to “we’re working together to improve all our public schools.” All of us in the field acknowledge that
there’s work to be done, but we also know that we must do it together if we’re
to succeed. We invite you to join us in a solution
oriented dialogue with the goal of strengthening the institution of public
schooling and our nation. As
important, we invite you to abandon fault finding and blame placing on those of
us currently working in public schools, so that not only the narrative around
our work but the results of our effort will prove positive and provide the
results we all want and need.

Views expressed in this
post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the
Learning First Alliance or any of its members.

The opinions expressed in Transforming Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.