Providing every child with a fair and substantive opportunity to learn is nothing less than a moral imperative. But as parent and student organizers across the country know all too well, today's education policies, which push competition and privatization, are not sufficient for "addressing the structural inequities that make separate and unequal education a persistent fact of life in America today," writes Rev. Jesse Jackson in a must-read column for CNN.
The federal Race to the Top program, like other grant programs, "pretends to offer a solution for all when it provides only a bandaid for some," Jackson says. Policymakers who promote these programs are doing nothing to address the grave inequities at the heart of our nation's education system. Instead, we need an education reform policy that "lifts from the bottom" to address systemic funding disparities and education redlining; harsh discipline policies that push students out of school and disproportionately target the poor and students of color; and declining funding for vitally important early childhood education programs.
"Many prominent advocates for education reform may believe that their efforts to link teacher evaluations to student test scores, close low-performing schools, conduct mass teacher and principal firings, and increase access to charter schools are in the best interest of poor children. But the problem is that many of these reforms are not based on best practices rooted in research evidence. Education policy that starts with the moral imperative would not allow poor and minority students to be used as guinea pigs for untested educational theories and practices.
For the sake of our country, we should all agree that there should be a common foundation beneath which no child falls. Yet, too often we’ve given up on the moral imperative for the politically expedient alternative when it comes to our nation’s education policies. To do what’s best for our nation and our children we must embrace a principle that's higher than politics. We should ensure that education policy starts with morality."
Hear, hear, Rev. Jackson.