On the Brink, but Of What?

This note from Joe Williams, Democrats for Education Reform was important enough that I  thought I’d share it in full:.

Oprah? Meet The Press? Matt Lauer and Obama talking hard-core, down and dirty ed reform on the Today Show? One hundred million dollars for Newark school reform from that Facebook dude? Education Nation? Front page of Time Magazine? Waiting for ‘Superman’????
One of the reasons I left daily newspapering five years ago was the frustration I felt that no one was talking about the tremendous challenges facing our nation (and its most vulnerable citizens) due to our unwillingness to make public education work better for children.
Our national code of silence (led in no small part by our collective fears of being called a big meanie if we dared to point out the obvious) meant that all of us were totally in on the big con that had become American public education. I wanted to be part of the massive effort to change that.
Due to the passion of an awful lot of people on this email list, the tracks were laid over the course of the last few years for the kind of high-profile conversations that are taking place right now on the airwaves, in movie theaters, and in public squares all over the land.
People are talking like never before about the importance of great teaching in a child’s life. They are debating whether or not tenure for teachers is helping or hurting kids. They are talking about the need for more excellent school options for parents.
And there is an edge to a lot of these conversations. People are… done waiting, it seems. They are exasperated that we ever let things get as bad as they are in too many school districts.
This is the moment that many of us have been waiting years to see. Education reform is clearly at the brink… but at the brink of what?
We may never have a better opportunity as education reformers to engage the public on these and many other important issues. But whether or not that is a good thing (our moment to shine) or a dud (we blew a golden opportunity) is still up to us to determine.
We’ve got a lot of important battles ahead of us, at all levels of government and across all states. One of our most important challenges right now is making sure that we convert every day citizens who have been engaging in these important discussions into warriors for future advocacy efforts for education reform.
Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for ‘Superman’ film offers a particularly compelling opportunity to engage people who can fight for the kinds of policy changes many people on this list support. This is why we have been working closely with more than 100 education reform organizations around the country to form a “Done Waiting Coalition” to enlist supporters for future advocacy work.
The web site is still being finalized, but you can still sign on at the beta version. Doing so will enable your voice to be easily heard in future fights over things like lifting charter school caps, strengthening teacher tenure rules, and reauthorizing ESEA.  I urge you all to sign on today by clicking here.
All of us have made tremendous personal and professional sacrifices to help get this issue where it is today. But we haven’t closed the deal.
Please sign on to this growing coalition and send a message that you, too, are done waiting.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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