Friday, June 05, 2015

"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference." - Jane Goodall

It's really hard to map out what our core beliefs are when it comes to education, and then how those beliefs translate into how we feel about the myriad policy discussions.

That is, unless we have something really clear and simple which drives us. Then we can see all of the other tedia (things that produce "tedium") for what they are--often shallow or hollow arguments that have nothing to do with actually helping students, but are just things that keep adults occupied and busy.

"Every child matters." This is my personal core belief. If you and I agree on this, while we may disagree on many other things, I'm convinced we'll find a way to make a difference.

For me, if every child matters, then a system that allows a significant number of children to fail is not OK. In fact, if every child matters, I'm not sure that having a "system" is an answer at all. If every child matters, then helping them to grow up in healthy, loving families is much more important than anything else--and the elephant in the education room is that families seem to have a lot more to do with learning outcomes than any other factor.

There are arguments about what is the most important in-school factor for student achievement, but even the most important in-school factors only seem to account for 1/3 of that achievement. What doesn't get as much attention can be summed up by this remark by President Obama: “I always have to remind people that the biggest ingredient in school performance is the teacher. That’s the biggest ingredient within a school. But the single biggest ingredient is the parent.”

So if we agree with or believe this, what do we do? If every child truly matters, then do we focus on helping families and parents, rather than all the debating over education policy?  Then the interesting question becomes: how do we help parents and families?

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