Everybody Seems to Have a New Year Message…
But isn't it time to get down to business?
On one hand, I just want to wish you a Happy New Year, Felice Anno Nuovo, and good health, happiness, peace, etc, etc. Everyone wants to look forward, make some predictions, and resolve to be better at all of it. I’m right there with you. I promise. Really.
But honestly, I don’t want to add to the noise. 2023 is here, it’s happening and it’s time to get down to business. And that includes looking back, before we look ahead.
A Few of My Favorite Things
It’s been a while since I watched the Sound of Music. It used to be a popular holiday flick in my home. The Supremes did it better than anyone, however. As you listen to their version, let me share NINE of my favorite things in the inaugural Forza of 2023.
Those “things” are the Yass Prize Winner and Finalists, who were announced and feted in grand style just three weeks ago on December 14th in New York, NY. The prestigious $1 million Yass Prize went to the ONE and only Arizona Autism Charter Schools, the first autism-based charter school in the Western US on a mission nationally to change the narrative about students with autism. And each of the EIGHT finalists who have demonstrated their ability to STOP for education received $500,000, to expand their incredibly diverse educational offerings to tens of thousands of more students. There were supposed to just be seven winners in total, but through the generosity of Janine and Jeff Yass, we were able to give out eight STOP Awards, two each for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless Education. You have to see it, and read about it all, to believe it. Do that here and here.
How many of you have your own professionally-developed rap song?
Yet another reason the Yass Prize is the coolest thing in education today - it even has its own Rap Song! The Principal of CARE Elementary School in the Overtown section of Miami, FL, a 2021 Yass Prize finalist and STOP Award winner is not only an exceptional education leader but an artist, and married to one, too! Christopher Simmonds and his wife Benaejah remastered ‘Run This Town’ by Rhianna for the grand finale of the 2022 Yass Prize. It was more than a hit - it brought down the house!
The Gala was the crowning event of the 2022 Yass Prize cycle, after (as I’ve shared before) a week-long, in-person business accelerator with the 32 semifinalists. Then, there was the Yass Prize Semifinalist Summit, where all 32 waxed eloquently about how to create truly innovative learning paths, competency-based education, parent power and so much more. Watch it and learn! It’s pretty incredible!
Philadelphia, Camden, Boston, it’s happening. Again. Districts and schools trying to ward off not just Covid but the common cold are setting both mandatory or highly expected - in the case of Boston - masking for their kids. After a year of bad news about how poorly the pandemic influenced student learning - not to mention their social, and emotional state - shouldn’t it be up to the parents to decide whether they want another day, week, month or even more of children’s smiles, expressions and engagement compromised again?
As noted in the Washington Post, in a piece produced by the Hechinger Report:
“While there is much reason to hope for the future, let’s not forget the dismal state of education in which we begin 2023. Test data paints a dire picture: The educational assessment nonprofit NWEA found that seventh- and eighth-graders’ scores on its math assessments fell in 2022, the only group of pupils for whom that was true. NWEA researchers estimate it will take these students at least five years to catch up to where they would have been without the pandemic. On the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, average eighth-grade math scores declined eight points from 2019, hitting a level not seen since the early 2000s.”
Masks won’t help, folks.
Enter Parent Power
I hope you agree as I argued in a piece in several newspapers - How Parent Power is Reshaping American Education - that it’s more than high time for parents to take control of their child’s education.
And forget the woes of a teacher shortage
If we really want talented professionals who can relate to students and not fall prey to bureaucratic nonsense, there’s another way - let students in high school start training to become teachers. By the time they graduate and enter college, they’ll be half the way there. Read more in this Forbes piece - Another Answer to the Teacher Shortage.
We are resolved to build a movement of education entrepreneurs and their parents, who are committed to preserving and expanding parent power and student agency in the quest for learner-centered, personalized, effective education. Join the fight! Follow @YassPrize and @Edreform. It’s going to be a great year!