If parents could ask their leaders for one thing on education this school year, it would be this: stop playing politics with education and work on results. We don’t have time for name-calling and excuses. We just want all of our children to fall in love with learning and have the opportunity to make the most of their potential. With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, we are launching a new organization called
Education Post to provide a strong voice for those who believe the current education system needs to get better. Education Post will give voice to parents, teachers and students who are often drowned out in the current debate and amplify the voices of a diverse group of leaders who have dedicated their lives to bringing opportunity to communities that need it most. Those leaders include Democrats like former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Republicans like former Louisiana Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek, and educators like Montgomery County school teacher and 2006 National Teacher of the Year Kim Oliver-Burnim. Our mission is to show where change is needed in education and why. For all our children, we need to provide an education that teaches critical thinking, supports individual achievement and readies children more effectively to succeed in the global economy. Even more important, we will do everything in our power to offer clear answers on how to get results for students.
We need to inspire and challenge students with high standards and to teach them critical thinking so they can succeed in today’s global economy. School shouldn’t be boring; it ought to be an exciting start to a promising life.
To bring out the best in every child, they need a great school, great teachers and an effective, responsible principal. We should empower principals and teachers to do their jobs and put in place a system of accountability to assess progress, keep parents informed on how their children are doing and continually work to ensure the best results for each child in each classroom.
Finally, parents should be able to make the right choices for them and their children, including having quality public charter schools.
We will spread the word that in communities around the country progress is being made. All across America, there are countless success stories where states and districts had the courage and determination to put aside politics and work together to improve education. At Education Post, we want to foster a new education conversation — based on more hard facts and fewer unsupported opinions, more fair-mindedness and less name-calling, more concrete solutions and fewer impassioned excuses for why nothing can be done. Instead of an endless political debate that tries to tear others down and divides people, we want to support efforts to give all students the chance to get ahead. For parents — unlike activists and politicians — all-talk-no-results is not an option. They can’t wait decades for the system to get better; their children need good schools right now. At its core, our mission is to help parents answer the one question they are asking: “Is my child getting the education he or she needs to have the quality of life we hoped for?” For too many children at risk from poverty or other challenges, the answer is no. For too many middle class children, the answer is very much in doubt. Our nation’s future depends on the quality of public education. We owe our children a strong voice and a clear plan for America to aim high.
Peter Cunningham is the founder of Education Post and serves on its board. He served as Assistant Secretary for communications and outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration’s first term. Prior to that he worked with Arne Duncan when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Peter is affiliated with