While education may not be a "fundamental right" under the Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires that when a state establishes a public school system, no child living in that state may be denied equal access to schooling. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act made provisions to advance equity, local support for leaders and educators, sharing of information and manage accountability. With the help of key policies, the responsibility of ensuring each child receives a quality education rests not only with government, but also with the educators, administrators, parents and communities. 1
In 1990, Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, gathered a team to conduct a 15-year study of hundreds of elementary schools in Chicago, to try to distinguish why some were able to improve and others were not. What he found was that five organizational features of a school, regardless of where it is or what type of children it serves, will determine whether or not learning can thrive:
A clear vision for instruction;
A staff with the capacity to see that vision through;
A student-centered learning environment;
Skilled leadership; and
Active and engaged parents. 2
In order to bridge the gap, organizations like ExpandED Schools believe expanded school days, engaging the community, and enhancing learning opportunities are ways to improve schools. See the video below on 10 ways to engage parents and community in school partnerships. 3
We know how important parent teacher organizations are for supporting our schools. Rarely do we understand a long-term strategy that integrates the science of applied methodology of systems, organization and measurements. Based his 2015 book, Learning to Improve: How America's Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better, Bryk suggests six core principles to improve education:
Have you ever thought about the idea that you have a right to a great education? It is a right that belongs to all U.S. citizens, thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
(For Elementary School Students together with Parents or Middle and High School Students)
Do students and educators at your school have everything they need? This is your opportunity to speak up! Click the link below and use the checklist below to think through what your school needs. My School My Voice Checklist came from the National Education Association's site called Opportunity & Action for Every Student.
When you submit this checklist to the National Education Association (NEA) that lets them know where positive changes in schools are most needed and how they can help.
Click here to read an article from Greatschools.org and learn "What the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) means for your child."
Remember to USE YOUR VOICE! Speaking up about how you feel about your school (if you are a student) or your children's school (if you are a parent or guardian) is another way to be an Upstander!
SHARE YOUR STORY
Have you benefitted from an after-school program, coach or mentor ? Were you inspired by a career day event or mentorship program to pursue the career you've chosen?
Help someone else. Share your story. #MLK50