Accountability should go both ways. Students and teachers shouldn't be held accountable to high-stakes test scores and grades unless they have the resources they need meet those standards. Which means that state governments should be held to account for providing high-quality resources and opportunities for all children, regardless of where they live.
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
Today, September 25th, marks 60 years since the integration of Little Rock's Central High School — the day the Little Rock Nine became the first Black students to attend it. That day in 1957 was the culmination of years of legal and civil rights battles but also presaged the hard work and struggles to come, both inside and outside the school gates.
Foundations have had an “on again, off again” love affair with the South. Funding there tends to be short-term and typically in response to a natural disaster, a national crisis or an election, but some significant infrastructure has been laid to coordinate and expand opportunities for sustained foundation giving.
Bill Kopsky, Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, speaks to assembled participants.
Why Arkansas? Four years ago, in February 2012, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) first posed that invitation as a question to fellow funders from across the country. In response, WRF hosted a statewide tour demonstrating to participants Arkansas’ readiness for education reform and investment.
In a powerful op-ed for the Arkansas Times Bill Kopsky, Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, reflects on the shooting in Charleston, SC, the history of racism in his state, and the work yet to be done to end discrimination in communities across the nation.