Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Changing the Odds: Fight For More Than Just Modest Education Reforms

Changing the Odds by

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event called “Changing the Odds with Geoffrey Canada,” hosted by Stand for Children.

The luncheon raised contributions for Stand for Children Washington, but ultimately inspired us all to want to dedicate our time and raise our voices for better education everywhere.

Geoffrey Canada is charismatic and totally genuine. I am amazed by his ability to make me laugh while I reflect on the magnitude of unacceptable issues in the education system.

His refreshing common sense attitude towards quality education for everyone is both compelling and plainly justified. In this business there is endless red tape wrapped around every attempt at achieving any real change - and we need to do better business.

“If you can’t teach, you should get another job,” Canada states obviously. That seems like a simple enough equation for most businesses, but for some reason even modest reforms are fought tooth and nail in education.

We’re making progress … slowly. The Academic Acceleration bill passed through the House and Senate last week. The bill automatically enrolls every student who qualifies into more rigorous advanced classes.

The bill would help prepare children for college and has already had one example of successful implementation. In the Federal Way, the number of 11th and 12th grade students of color taking at least one advanced class increased by 76% in just one year with Academic Acceleration.

That’s fantastic progress, and organizations like Stand for Children are truly making a difference in education.

Still, there’s much more to be done. And it should be everybody’s concern, not just a select number of passionate groups. Washington passed charter schools last year, but it was a close race.

Opposition to charter schools does have its validity. There have been failed charter schools that should be shut down, but that’s no reason to give up altogether. Failure fosters innovation. We should be trying new methods instead of reinforcing what doesn’t work.

At the end of Canada’s speech, he leaves us with two challenges: 1) Think outside the box, and 2) Help young people gain a new sense of optimism.

“There’s no one coming to save your children,” says Canada, reminding us that we are the ones that need to make sure schools are working. Schools need to strive to improve year after year, and we need to be the ones enforcing that.

If we take action and stand up and demand a high quality education for all, and if we especially make sure that children are growing up educated, we will surely see a positively drastic change in the world. Less crime, healthier citizens, and a bigger pool of innovative ideas to choose from.

Those are the things I’m looking forward to most as more and more of our young people grow up educated.

Education affects everyone, so it makes sense to donate some of your time and effort to making sure the effects are positive. We can do it; we just need to get creative.

To learn more about how Stand for Children Washington gets creative, check out how you can get involved.

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