A high-quality public education can build much-needed skills and knowledge. It can help children reach their God-given potential. It can stabilize communities and democracies. It can strengthen economies. It can combat the kind of fear and despair that evolves into hatred.
I’ve worked in public education for 30 years – as a teacher, a lawyer and union leader. I’ve visited hundreds of schools and districts. I’ve seen leaders from the classroom to the national stage who have been willing to set aside their differences and do the hard work that’s necessary to create real, enduring change.
I’ve made a lifetime commitment to the union movement and to public education.
For me, the labor movement and public education are linked as the essential building blocks to a strong middle class and a path to the American dream. It’s why I went to Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations as an undergrad and then to law school.
Standardized testing is at cross purposes with many of the most important purposes of public education. It doesn’t measure big-picture learning, critical thinking, perseverance, problem solving, creativity or curiosity, yet those are the qualities great teaching brings out in a student.
A rich, robust, well-resourced public education is one of the best routes out of poverty and a pathway to prosperity.
Real parent engagement means establishing meaningful ways for parents to be partners in their children’s public education from the beginning – not just when a school is failing. The goal should be to never let a school get to that point.
The public education landscape is enriched by having many options – neighborhood public schools, magnet schools, community schools, schools that focus on career and technical education, and even charter schools.