When I returned to Education Post in May, my charge was to help us clarify our vision and set us in a new direction. I thought a lot about what would be the cardinal question to help us stay focused on what matters most, and that question became the headline for my weekly communications: “How are the children?”
Until we can honestly answer “the children are well,” our work isn’t done. Until we can say in good faith that the young people of America are on track for reaching their God-given potential, we fall short of our responsibility.
As we close the door on another decade, here’s where I’m at with our cardinal question:
We have candidates running for the American presidency who have not fully reckoned with what it will take to ensure each child has a fair shot at learning all they need to know for gainful lives. Each candidate has an “education” plan made whole cloth of political cynicism and shameless pandering to the interests of public employees rather than families and children.
We have local decision-makers who can barely speak for two minutes without saying “equity” or “inclusion” while swaths of children live at the margins of their opulent cities and are redlined into increasingly irrelevant schools.
In education, the steady march toward reformed schools is lost in the fog and many past warriors are jumping ship. The clarity about which reforms are best suited to make public education work equally well for every child is in needless dispute. While adults squabble about policy and money, countless young people aren’t reading proficiently; too many graduate high school incapable of writing an error-free paragraph. They are more off-track than on.
That may be a dire snapshot, but it’s my most honest one. And, yet, I’m not without hope. With faith and a loving heart, there is nothing we can’t fix if we stay the course, stay clear, and play to win on behalf of children.
As we head into the “most wonderful time of the year” (and into a new decade) I’m mindful of the faces at the bottom of the well. While our families will enjoy a time of comfort and abundance over the next two weeks far too many children—many of them in progressive cities with booming economies—won’t have access to waist-expanding foods, lavish gifts or a warm hearth.
Until our society honors the unsurpassable worth of every child, regardless of race, class, perceived ability, exceptionality or other factors of life outside of their control, we are in this fight together.
Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of
brightbeam. He was named CEO in April 2019, after formerly serving as chief executive of Wayfinder Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. In the past, Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, ...