As Congress moves to rewrite the No Child Left Behind bill, debate is heating up about how to reform our education system to raise student achievement in our classrooms and prepare the next generation to succeed in the 21st Century. While we can all agree that far too many students drop out of school before graduation, there exists a tension between providing greater school accountability and flexibility, and our young people are caught in the crosshairs.
American Education Week (Nov. 13-19) is an opportunity for us to honor those individuals that work everyday to make a difference for children in local communities across the nation. Do we need to fix the flaws of No Child Left Behind? Yes. Do we need to better ensure all our children have access to a high-quality education? Unequivocally yes. And while it’s imperative that our nation has a serious debate about how to achieve these goals, it’s also important to take a moment to honor those who are working tirelessly to prepare our young people for success in college, career and life.
Too often, the debate about our education system focuses only on the problems we face, and falls short of celebrating the many unsung classroom heroes. Every day there seems to be another article exposing the horrors of our education system, and not nearly enough spotlighting the devoted teachers, competent principals and parents that will do whatever is necessary to make certain our children succeed. We believe that a tear in the fabric anywhere weakens the entire cloth. We’re all in this together.
At the same time, we have a long way to go to fix the significant educational disparities between zip codes America has some of the best schools in the world, providing cutting edge learning environments that prepare students for success in life. But in many communities, schools need our help to catch up. Low graduation rates, rundown facilities, and low literacy rates create an unfair disadvantage for students without access to a good education.
As countless individuals rise to the challenge and seek to improve our education system and create opportunities for all, we must also recognize the great work and sacrifices of so many teachers and professionals who are leading the way. These are the individuals that are often forgotten in the debate between accountability and flexibility.
As United Way Worldwide works to influence the policy process on Capitol Hill and advocate for a reauthorized bill that advances the common good, we also want to take the time to thank the millions of educators, school administrators and volunteers that help create a brighter, stronger future for the children we serve.