Progressives have long understood that access to a quality education is the one factor that consistently and permanently changes the trajectory of a life. As such, creating a strong public school system has been at the epicenter of our decades-long struggle to promote equal rights and equal opportunity for all.
For many of America’s families of color, a public school education has historically been the path to the middle class. Unfortunately, America’s public education system is stagnant. Scores on the most widely respected test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), have been flat for a decade. Without transformation, our school districts will be unable to prepare students for the demands of the future, and our kids won’t be productive in tomorrow’s global workforce. As President Barack Obama said, “In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite.”
It’s a prerequisite we’re not close to attaining. America’s public education system continues to function like one designed for the industrial era. While other industries have adapted to the Information Age and the global marketplace, most of America’s school districts remain trapped in a structural model of centralized decision making and top-down bureaucracy.