Year of Opportunity...Will the Empire Strike Back?...Dr. King's legacy
The cause of equality and freedom for everyone...
The cause of equality and freedom was celebrated around the world last week, and it’s also at the heart of events being held around the country this week. There is a lot to learn from all of it.
Let’s start with this piece, “What Dr. King can teach us today about healing the rifts in America,” honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the example he set, written by Civil Rights icon Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and the chair of No Labels.
“The vision he painted with his words represented an effort to build a bridge to people who did not share his agenda. And that was intentional: He understood that speaking to people who held reservations about what our movement demanded marked the only realistic path toward our ultimate success.” - Dr. Ben Chavis
In other words, he wasn’t interested in labels or political party, but outcomes. That’s a lesson that a lot of people could stand to learn today. Just look at AZ Gov. Katie Hobbs, who not one week into office has targeted for extinction the the popular and life-saving Education Scholarship Accounts created by her predecessor Doug Ducey.
A blogger for Denver Public Schools doubled down on King’s educational vision:
“A great student not only has the reason and education, but a moral compass to do what’s right with his or her gifts. It’s not just important to be smart; you have to know what’s right and what’s wrong.” When you look at his values, he always saw education, especially in the Black community, as a tool to uplift and inspire to action. He instilled hope in us that we can achieve our dreams no matter the color of our skin. He encouraged us all “to be the best that we can be.”
The Year of the Rabbit is Also the Year of Education Opportunity
Not sure they have much in common, other than the fact that rabbits, like education opportunity bills move fast and multiply! Education opportunity is flourishing as political and parent power take center stage in state capitols across the country. No more sluggish efforts or slow-moving lawmakers - there are bills flying out of chambers and people excitedly pitching in to ensure that everything from parental choice to teacher quality and education innovation gets addressed this legislative session.
TAKE IOWA, which late last night sent to the Governor’s desk the bill she asked for - the Students First Act - empowering disadvantaged parents with the purchasing power to buy the education that best meetings their children’s needs. More details to come, but this first major meaningful education accomplishment of the 2023 year is worth looking at.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Choice Parent Scorned
Reporting on parents’ protests of Governor Hobbs’ anti-equality actions, an Arizona political newsletter called the Yellow Sheet said that:
“A brigade of strollers and children toting posters visited the Capitol this morning to protest Hobbs' proposed repeal of the universal ESA program. The crowd of families chanted, "ESA is here to stay. " [Legislators] addressed Hobbs' proposed repeal and said, "We're not going to let it happen. " Other speakers included Janelle Williams of Black Mothers Forum, an organization developing micro-schools for students of color. The crowd also heard from Pastor Peter McDonald, who started a private school in Chicago and plans to launch a similar school in the West Valley. McDonald said he was, "not against the public school system," but he's against, "a system that does not recognize the value of individualized education. " And Bella Ceballos-Viner of Padres Unidos, an organization for Hispanic parents, said she would, "declare war against anybody who wants to tear this program down. "The program is now nearing 46,000 universal applicants.”
The Yellow Sheet said “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Private School Parent Scorned.” How stupid is that - to put a modifier like private or public school in front of a parent’s name when it comes to the education they choose. Imagine a parent of an ADHD child being called an ADHD Parent, or a parent of a child who plays music called a MUSIC Parent by the press. You could have all sorts of modifiers, good and bad. But why? They are parents. Where they choose to send their kids shouldn’t modify their name or their importance. The only modifier perhaps should be the word choice before parent - which should be every parent.
Speaking of parents and choice -
It is School Choice Week, and I have a problem with that. Not the idea, but the name. It’s not the right name for what is happening around the country (just like the Congressional School Choice Caucus isn’t the right name for a group that is dedicated to ensuring that students get to go to a school that best meets their needs.)
Education opportunity comes in many shapes and sizes, and there are many ways to describe those opportunities. There is course choice and choice of programs in schools, there are choices among public schools, and money follows students where they go. There are charter schools, private schools and micro-schools. And when parents have the authority to use their tax dollars to choose among them, that’s parent choice or education freedom. It is not, however, “school” choice.
To be honest, the only schools making choices are the traditional public schools, who are permitted by law to choose who attends what public school and when who gets what services and how they are delivered. Public schools do the choosing, not the parents. Think about it. Words matter.
In other news…
While we are talking about Kings, will John King embrace education opportunity and excellence at his next gig?
He was a charter school founder and supporter, but former education secretary and once Maryland gubernatorial candidate John King didn’t talk much about his support for education opportunity in either of those capacities. He has been tapped to head the State University of New York system of higher education, which happens to be home to one of the most effective charter school authorizing institutions in the nation. And like the King many years before him, we pray he’ll be a forceful advocate for change, no matter what the consequences
Don’t Hold Your Breath: After creating the most onerous and probably illegal set of rules for charter schools, the Biden Administration says it wants to get along with them.
Hell hath no fury than a parent whose kids are failing to get a great education! The unions have their work cut out for them. Happy Week!
Ciao - Jeanne