Tag Archives: education reform

Education is a Human Right (Town Hall)

Hello everyone! Although my blog doesn’t reflect it, I did a lot of education writing over the summer when working on a research project with Block 58. Unfortunately, this isn’t ready yet, but I’ll be happy to tell you all about it once it’s published! In the meantime, I’d like to talk about some of my more recent experiences in the realm of education, starting with an event I went to tonight.


This evening I attended the Education is a Human Right Town Hall. The meeting had a great turnout, with a mixture of students, parents, community members, UIC professors, and education activists coming together to present “testimony to Amnesty International and the U.S. Department of Education on the impact of school closings, turnarounds, phase outs and disinvestment in neighborhood schools.” In addition, the Town Hall presented the people’s plan for the new Dyett High School (you can find out more by following #SaveDyett.)

Before going to the Town Hall, I expected that my post-event blog post would focus on the more philosophical side of the event. I expected to come out of this Town Hall with reinforced notions about the importance of civic capacity to our education system, and how that capacity is being continuously and purposefully undermined by our non-representative elected officials. And while there was certainly some philosophical rhetoric, and some very powerful rhetoric at that, I think it’s more important to highlight the mere facts that came out of the testimony:

Dyett High School:

  • The principal of Dyett High School is effectually attempting to trick the remaining 13 students (“the Dyett 13”) into transferring out so that the school can be forcibly phased out
  • The front door of Dyett High School has been locked so that students can only use the back door
  • Dyett High School students only have 4 teachers and therefore must take online versions of art, science, and physical education (what?!) classes

Mollison Elementary School:

  • Special education students at the overcrowded Mollison Elementary School are receiving their services under the staircases
  • Approximately 20% of students at Mollison Elementary School cannot eat lunch in the lunchroom, and must eat in the hallways and classrooms

These are some shocking and truly unacceptable facts. They speak for themselves, and I don’t feel a great need to explain why they are truly outrageous (I mean, taking PE classes online? Really?) Now, some facts that were brought up at the Town Hall concerning the political reality:

  • In 2012, 87% of voters were in favor of elected school board officials in Chicago (so, where are they?)
  • Title VI Civil Rights complaints have been filed in 12 cities thus far, and 3 now have open investigations

These are all of the facts that we should keep in mind before even attempting to contemplate the philosophical and political truths underlying educational inequity in Chicago and other cities throughout the U.S. It’s only once you’ve taken the time to hear community stakeholders state these facts and really think about the children that are living with these grievances that you can think about the deeper political implications and explanations for these grievances. Some of the great quotes from the night that point to these deeper truths are:

  • “It is about race, and somebody’s gotta have the courage to say that unapologetically.” -Jitu Brown
  • “When you close a school…you’re erasing that people’s memory.” -Jitu Brown
  • “This is a chance for elected officials to [stand with] the people and their children.” -Jitu Brown
  • The 3 D’s of Chicago school reform: destabilization, disinvestment, and disenfranchisement. -Professor Pauline Lipman

In addition to these, I was really impressed by Amara Enyia, who basically summed up the issue by saying “I know I’m supposed to spout talking points about educational policy, but I want to talk about the power that we are all born with, and what our communities would be like if we embraced that power.” While the grievances may be educational, they are symptoms of a broader problem of societal inequity that can only be conquered by communities that embrace their power, as individuals and as a collective.

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The Art of Teaching: Reflecting on a Trip to Golden Apple

Hello again!

I just now returned from a UCIEP trek to Golden Apple, a foundation that focuses on the importance of teachers in Illinois classrooms and offers a collective initiatives aimed at teacher appreciation, professional development, and scholarship opportunities. We had the opportunity to meet with a large number of staff at the foundation, almost all of whom told their own narratives of past and present experience as teachers in K-12 classrooms. I very much enjoyed introductions by Dom (Dominic Belmonte, President & CEO of the foundation), a very charismatic leader who describes himself as a South Side Italian who relied on his moxy to succeed, both in life and as a teacher. When talking about teaching, Dom said:

“It’s an artisan’s kind of work. We’re artists.”

This statement is very simple, relaying a sentiment that is often articulated by the best of teachers, and yet it got me thinking. How do teachers find teaching as a profession? Golden Apple offers aspiring teachers scholarship opportunities, and those who become fellows are offered an array of professional development opportunities in order to achieve their goal of becoming teachers, and furthermore, to become good teachers. For those who already teach, Golden Apple offers awards that recognize outstanding, committed teachers, and provides them with further professional development, as well as the opportunity to teach classes to others in the teaching profession. But all of these opportunities come to those teachers who already are or know they want to be teachers. So, the question remains: how do people discover their desire to be teachers?

Dom’s statement about teaching as an art form referred to the practical ingenuity and creativity that are crucial skills for teachers to have, particularly in the neediest schools. But I think there’s another practical dimension to this statement as well. Like artists, teachers must have passion. The work must be fulfilling to the individual on a deeper, emotional level (because, as we all know, most people in both professions are unlikely to ever achieve great material wealth). This passion doesn’t just allow people to take the risk of pursuing an insecure profession with difficult work and low pay. This passion doesn’t just make teachers–it makes good teachers. As all of the teachers and former teachers of Golden Apple articulated, it is the passion of a teacher that allows him or her to connect with children, make children believe that they give a damn about what happens to their students in and outside of the classroom setting.

The policy reforms that try to “fix” inner-city schools through the use of complex quantitative data and strict numerical metrics fail because they continue to miss the point. The point is that kids with high risk factors in dangerous environments require teachers who are not robots. They need teachers who are not scientifically proven efficient, and who are not chosen on the basis of their ability to follow a curriculum that is completely unrelated to the issues that impoverished children face in their everyday lives. These kids need teachers with passion. In short, these kids need artists.

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Reflecting on Workshop with Dr. Charles Payne: The Historical Context of Universality Rhetoric in American Education


This evening, I attended a workshop with Dr. Charles Payne, hosted by UChicago Careers in the Education Professions. I attended an event with Charles Payne last quarter as well, hosted by Block 58. I have to say, having the opportunity to hear him speak frequently is very much a perk of attending this university.

One of the great things about events featuring Charles Payne is that there are only two certainties. The first is that you never have any idea what the topic will be. As one of my professors put it, he speaks about whatever happens to be on his mind that day. It can range from neighborhood development to national policy, employing any and all types of logic from theoretical sociology to real-world policy debate. The second certainty, luckily, is that whatever Charles Payne chooses to speak about, it will never be boring.

This evening’s talk was a short presentation followed by a Q&A discussion with Dr. Payne. The presentation commenced with a question: “Why do kids who look like they’re from very similar backgrounds have very dissimilar outcomes?” I’ve heard Dr. Payne speak to this interest of his before, though always with a slight twist that makes each asking of it differ from the last . After all, so much about education boils down to variability, and so does much of the political rhetoric. In the classroom, teachers must work with variability in an incredible way, somehow managing a classroom with (sometimes up to 35) students who come from different cultures, socioeconomic levels, and home climates, and that’s before even broaching the topic of differences in academic abilities and motivation levels. The issue of variability travels all the way up to the international level, with our top officials asking how our students compare to those of different nations.

Of particular interest to me is the management of variability in urban school districts, both in terms of neighborhood composition and policy rhetoric. Fortunately, Dr. Payne spoke to this tonight. He explained his most recent research interest, which concerns the successes and failures of various urban school districts in the United States. One story in particular I found really intriguing, namely, his story of an urban district superintendent who tried to directly combat “white privilege.” There are many ways of circumventing this crucial issue in urban education, and it is always refreshing to hear someone use the term in the context of honest inquiry, rather than with apology or hostility.

The most important policy lesson that Dr. Payne saw in the superintendent’s success, he explained, was universality. In short, improving educational opportunities for less-privileged children in urban districts is only politically achievable when improvement can be shown for more-privileged children as well. This is something I spent a lot of last quarter thinking about, while I was writing a term paper about the history of universality in education reform rhetoric and putting the universal pre-k movement into that historical context. After hearing Dr. Payne speak, I believe even more fervently in the sheer power that universality rhetoric can have in the field of educational reform. I am not saying I have an opinion in whether this power is ultimately a positive or negative force for society (though perhaps this question will go on my list of potential topics for my Sociology BA Thesis). Regardless of connotation, the rhetoric of universality has proven important historically in a country that prides itself on–though it rarely knows how to promote–its own diversity.


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The Rubinstein-Barnum discussion and the language of ‘reform’

Today I’d like to take a look at the 6th and final installment of Gary Rubinstein’s discussion with Matt Barnum. For those who don’t know, Gary is an education ‘reform’ blogger (on a side-note, I highly recommend his post ‘Why I am sending my daughter to P.S. 163,’ both for those who know nothing about the NYC public schools admissions process and for those who know it all too well and care to read a piece by a fellow sufferer). Matt is also active in the education ‘reform’ dialogue; while Gary is a parent on the non-corporate side of the reform movement, Matt is in many ways a polar opposite, as someone who has been known to criticize leaders of the non-corporate reform movement.

The conversation between these two men, which some have begun referring to as the Rubinstein-Barnum discussion, is a rich dialogue that offers a rare glimpse into what it would be like if members of the two education reform movements actually talked to each other, not simply about each other. I highly recommend reading the entire conversation, which consists of six installments that were written and published on Gary’s blog from April to July. There is certainly a fair share of name-calling and accusatory language presented by both sides, but this is (unfortunately) not unusual in the conversation about national education policy. What is unusual, however, is the opportunity to hear figures from the two drastically opposed and polarized reform communities respond to each other directly, publicly and frankly. Additionally, the conversation has some really fascinating input from other well-known education critics in the comments section of the letters. It really makes you think: what would happen if the Michelle Rhees and Diane Ravitches of the world were to actually talk to each other?

Each installment of the Rubinstein-Barnum back-and-forth covers a variety of issues facing education ‘reformers.’ In this post, I will focus on the 6th installment (for a discussion of the issues covered by the 1st half of the conversation, I recommend ‘What the Gary Rubinstein and Matt Barnum dialogue is really about’). This final installment of the conversation begins with a letter from Gary to Matt, and Matt’s response letter, followed by a series of substantive comments by them and others. Instead of going through each letter piece by piece, I’d like to talk about an extremely important theme of the letters and comments: “reform.”

As you’ve noticed, I’ve sometimes felt compelled to put the terms “reform,” “reformers,” etc. in quotes. This is because one of the biggest issues facing the education reform community is the word ‘reform’ itself. In the first letter of the 6th installment, Matt refers to the education debate as existing between ‘reformers’ and ‘traditionalists,’ where the term ‘reformers’ refers to the corporate, large-scale reformers (Matt names figures such as Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, and Jeb Bush) and the term ‘traditionalists’ refers to the anti-corporation, grassroots supporters of education (Gary names figures such as Diane Ravitch, Anthony Cody, Jersey Jazzman, EduSchyster, Katie Osgood, and, of course, himself). Matt argues that the ‘traditionalists’ are much more known for negative campaigning than the ‘reformers,’ claiming that the leaders of the reform movement, unlike those of the traditionalist movement, do not attack individuals on a personal level. To this Gary responds that ‘reformers’ are only able to avoid calling out individuals because of their position of power (and, I think in many cases, authority). He says that while the corporate reformers have access to all the power and money, the so-called ‘traditionalists’ have only their words. They have a long, uphill battle to pull themselves up to the dialogue into which the ‘reformers’ are thrust purely by their possession of power and wealth.

My reaction to this aspect of the conversation is mixed. One commenter critiques Matt’s usage of ‘traditionalist,’ but another commenter responds by saying that this is common terminology and that Matt should not be too harshly criticized for trying to use a well-known term to clarify differentiation. I would agree with the second commenter that the term should not be too harshly critiqued, especially since Matt did not randomly generate it on his own. But more importantly, I strongly believe that the entire battle of education reform terminology is one which should be thrown out of the education war as soon as possible. Yes, this is naive by many standards, but I stand by it nonetheless. While I believe that language is extremely important and valuable to the progression of any social change, I believe that it is more important that words remain a free commodity. We cannot allow corporate reformers to use their power and wealth as a currency with which to buy singular rights to the word ‘reform.’ If we allow this to go on, it is not long before they also take up the word ‘education’ as their own property.

To further my point, though to do so perhaps a bit nerdily, I refer to Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality, in which Nietzsche offers an historical explanation for the development of the priestly class. Nietzsche’s theory essentially states that the language of “goodness” can be traced back to the original nobility who, by simply possessing the wealth and power of society, were able to define their own characteristics as the first values of society. The lower classes, upset by their inability to attain the power and wealth that the nobility claimed was virtuous, decided to create a new system of valuation by which the original good was “evil” and their own qualities would be known as the new, truer “good.” Hence the development of religion in which the poor, hungry, powerless believers will be rewarded in heaven, and the greedy are punished in hell.

In relating this to the education debate, the corporate reformers are the original nobility while the so-called ‘traditionalists’ are the original lower classes. By claiming that their own educational values and methods are ‘reform,’ the ‘reformers’ have taken possession of the term ‘reform,’ which really just means change. They have defined corporate-reform as the original ‘reform,’ even as the original “good” in the education reform movement. The grassroots reformers, lacking the power and wealth required to advertise possession of ‘reform’ terminology, have been forced to form their own sort of priestly class (in fact, to further substantiate this analogy, Matt claims that non-corporate reformers have “demonized” corporate reformers, and Gary goes so far as to call Diane Ravitch a “saint,” but I digress) in which ‘reform’ is “evil” and the new “good” is defined by the qualities and values of the poorer, non-corporate reformers. As of now, there is not a word that the “priestly class” of the education debate has claimed as their own “good.” Matt and Gary refer to them as ‘traditionalists,’ the Network for Public Education has been known to call themselves advocates of the “genuine reform movement,” and countless other terms have been tossed around. No figure or group has yet achieved the power to buy a term such as the corporate reformers have bought the term ‘reform.’ They may do so yet, though probably not soon.

Providing a linguistic differentiation between the two sides of the education debate clarifies their differences and may allow the public to engage more easily with the education dialogue. However, at what cost? My fear is that we are too easily distracted by the struggle to define and redefine “reform” that we forget the first word of the phrase: education. The fact is that neither group has tried to take ownership of the word “education” yet, and I can only hope that it stays that way. The only reason that the Rubinstein-Barnum discussion was able to take place is because the two men still share at least some vocabulary. In order to have more open dialogues like this one (and I strongly believe that we must have more open dialogues like this one) we must remember the importance of language as a method of political communication, not as a political commodity. In the end of the installment, Gary says that he hopes Matt may be “a leader in a new brand of ‘reformers’ who are a bit more thoughtful and self-reflective.” In saying that Matt may belong to yet another “brand” of ‘reformer,’ Gary points to what has become one of the most overwhelming problems of the education debate, namely, the language of reform.

The fact that Gary and Matt were able to act civilly enough towards one another to publish a series of letters to one another over the course of months shows a level of civility that has become too rare in the education debate. But the fact that so much of the discussion focuses on who is and is not a ‘reformer’ and who “demonized” whom only emphasizes the fact that we have much to do before we can have a conversation about education policy that is both civil and focused on substance. If anything, the Rubinstein-Barnum discussion should point to how tangled and practically incomprehensible the language of the education conversation has become. In all this talk about ‘reform’ and how to define, redefine, claim and reclaim the terminology of reform, we come closer and closer to forgetting altogether what we were trying to reform in the first place.


*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece stated that Matt Barnum is a researcher for McGraw-Hill. This is in fact not the case, and Barnum has never been affiliated with McGraw-Hill.

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The Sociology of Summer Learning

It’s the first day of July, what feels to me like the ‘real’ beginning of summer. But education doesn’t suddenly stop mattering in the summertime. Teachers are being trained, budgets and curricula are being fought over, and last but certainly not least: summer school is in session.

An article printed in the New York Times today discusses new efforts to redefine summer school. Summer school may be on its way from being known as just a place where failing students go to play catch up. In school districts around the country, more voluntary summer school spots are being offered. These spots are aimed at less affluent students in particular, as these are the students who most often lack the resources or opportunities to stay active and intellectually engaged during the summer vacation. For these students, summer schools are aiming to make learning more appealing and creative in the hopes that this will help close the socioeconomic gap in the classroom come autumn.

The article cites a study produced by Rand in which the authors focus their attention on four research questions:

1) What is the nature of summer learning loss?

2) Are summer learning programs effective in improving student achievement? What are the elements of effective summer programs?

3) How much do summer learning programs cost?

4) What are the facilitators and challenges to implementing summer programs?

From the very first question presented in the study, it is clear that this is more an issue of socioeconomic differences than anything else. Yes, there is certainly a “learning loss” that the long summer months allow to occur. However, I imagine that summer learning loss affects students of different socioeconomic classes very differently. Students who have access to stimulating programs and resources over the summer are sure to be less affected by summer learning loss than students who do not. Simple activities–going to the library,  reading, or playing educational games with a parent at home–can help prevent summer learning loss. By being less structured, such activities may even foster love and appreciation for learning more than the school year for many students.

But the students who most frequently do these activities are students whose parents can afford time off from work during the summer, who can afford to spend time reading with their children and encouraging them to further their education creatively. In fact, the Rand study concludes that “summer learning loss disproportionally affects low-income students” (17). Furthermore, the study finds that the summer learning loss is cumulative, meaning that it contributes significantly to the achievement gap widening over time.

One piece of data in the study that I find particularly interesting claims that while low-income students lose “substantial ground” in reading during the summer, higher-income students frequently gain reading skills over the summer (17). The emphasis here is placed on how much the lower-income students lose, but wouldn’t it be just as appropriate to determine why and how much higher-income students gain?

My belief is that higher-income students are afforded opportunities for more creative and real-world-based learning than during the school year. They have the resources to read books, visit museums, and become intellectually stimulated in a more real-world manner than during the school year. This teaches vocabulary, language, and history in the summer, but more importantly, it fosters a love of learning in the long-run. By looking at exactly what higher-income students learn the most from during the summer, we could change school-year curricula to emphasize the creativity that summer learning offers and encourage lower-income students to learn the type of real-world intellectual stimulation that their higher-income peers learn to appreciate during summer vacation.

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My Reaction to the “The Heart of the Matter”

An article printed in NYTimes today announced the publication of “The Heart of the Matter,” a 61-page report that has been produced by the Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences for planned distribution on Capitol Hill today. According to the brief offered by the commission, the report aims to identify how an education in the humanities develops the ability of American students to become competitive in both the domestic and global workforce.

I have somewhat mixed feelings regarding the report. The report is well-designed, with some particularly easy-to-read charts that I found enjoyable and enlightening. Supporting quotations from influential Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, President Eisenhower, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are spread throughout the report and provide a second layer of context to the text’s assertion that an education in the humanities has developed and will continue to develop the American conception of good citizenship.

The report does a particularly excellent job of arguing for education in the social sciences and humanities as a method of increasing global citizenship. The report covers a broad range of topics involved in global citizenship, including education in foreign languages, foreign histories, foreign cultures, international relations, global ethics, and transnational studies. To me, the strongest argument made for the urgency of education reform is the argument pertaining to national security. The report cites statistics on how severely funding for education of foreign languages and cultures has been cut, and then offers some very sound arguments for why this is problematic. One passage stood out to me as particularly excellent in communicating the urgency of this situation:

After the 9/11 attacks, intelligence intercepts from the Arab world sat unread because we lacked people adequately trained in this suddenly strategic language, which is not learned in a day. Whatever one’s politics, we can agree that the wars of the past decade have underlined the difficulty of fighting abroad without a subtle understanding of foreign histories, social constructs, belief systems, languages, and cultures. (39)

Rather than simply arguing for why an education in the humanities is crucial to the American economy and national security, the report also offers several substantial solutions to the problem. In the report, the commission proposes a number of educational initiatives, including funding for language immersion programs, increased support for undergraduate study abroad opportunities, a reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, and a public-private partnership to increase opportunities for collaborative transnational studies for students in both K-12 and higher education environments. The commission also suggests a increased support for volunteer-led programs that could bring veterans to speak to classes about their experiences with foreign cultures, a creative proposal that I think could be highly helpful and practical to implement.

While the report does a fine job of relating the need for humanities education to present and future national security needs, it argues less convincingly for other aspects of a humanities education. One problem I have after reading this report is that the commission says that it applauds the thinking behind the Common Core Standards Initiative, stating:

In its Common Core State Standards Initiative, the National Governors Association has outlined “the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” We applaud the thinking behind this plan, which defines foundational skills in communications and in mathematics. Although it is too soon to predict all the outcomes that will result from nationwide implementation, the proposed Core makes communication—reading, writing, and speaking—a fundamental element of education, opening doors for more advanced learning. (23)

I am willing to agree that we have not yet seen all of the effects of the Common Core initiative and do not yet know all of its consequences. However, we have already begun to witness that schools are using the Common Core mainly to emphasize math and reading standards and prepare for standardized tests. The commission argues for an increased emphasis on creativity founded in critical skills such as questioning, analyzing, and real world-problem solving, skills that I believe have been de-emphasized in the aftermath of the Common Core implementation.

Ultimately, I support the thinking behind the report, and even support many of the proposals in the report. This may be a good starting point, but only if congressional members are convinced of the urgency that the commission is clearly attempting to relay. At this point, I can only hope that a serious conversation about the value of humanities and social sciences is just getting started.

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Why I Believe in Education Reform

Today I went back to my high school, where soon-to-graduate seniors were bustling down the halls to turn in final papers, get yearbooks signed, and say goodbye to their teachers from the past four years. It was a nostalgic visit that allowed me to reflect on my high school experience. Even more than that, it made me think about why it is that I want to go into education reform. Did I love my school so much that I want to make other schools like it? Or did I experience so much grief in school that I want to prevent other students from encountering the same setbacks that I faced?


Most of the time, I can honestly say that I loved my high school, and continue to love it today. I attended one of few NYC public schools whose students are exempt from participating in Regents testing. As an alternative to standardized tests (and most tests in general) my high school required students to complete Performance-Based Assessments. PBAs usually contain one creative component (ie artwork, fictional writing, model-building) and one more traditional component (such as a research paper, analytical essay, or sometimes even a short exam). Unlike Regents exams, PBAs allow students to prove their comprehension of the subject matter by creatively applying it to real-world scenarios. Additionally, students must present their PBAs to a panel of teachers, which teaches students how to speak in public, discuss and defend their ideas, and develop opinions regarding the subject matter. 


Learning to present PBAs was possibly my most rewarding experience in high school. As a 9th grader, I was soft-spoken and fairly anxious about defending my work in front of teachers. I still remember rehearsing my arguments about cul-de-sac symbolism in The Bell Jar for hours the night before my freshman English PBA. While the majority of students entered high school anxious about PBAs, I have no doubt that each and every student graduated with a great appreciation for our high school’s alternative testing methodology. Unlike traditional exams, PBAs do not only test a student’s mastery of the subject matter, but also make testing itself an educational experience. Sure, high school taught me how to take exams, but it was by completing PBAs that I learned how to develop my curiosities and discuss my insights openly and confidently with my professors, a skill that I know will continue to serve me well in college and beyond. 


Clearly I appreciate my high school’s creative approach to testing, but there were still definite imperfections in my high school experience. The most distressing aspect of attending an NYC public school was the constant fear of budget cuts. There was never enough of anything, and an extreme shortage or non-existence of supplies required for adequate learning was the norm. Only after talking to college classmates from other school systems did I realize that my high school experience was fairly rare in this respect. It turns out that students in other schools never fought each other for supplies. They didn’t beg each other for printer paper. They didn’t stand for hours of class time or share seats with friends because their classrooms never ran out of chairs. They didn’t fight over which club got to hold the most bakesales because their clubs were not in constant competition for survival of the fittest. 


To me, the worst result of looming budget cuts is the constant uncertainty that ensues. For many students, particularly in urban areas, life is uncertain enough as it is. Some students don’t know if their parents are coming home at night, or where their next meal is coming from. Students shouldn’t need to also wonder how they are going to afford paper for printing their assignments, or whether the metrocards that provide free access to good schools will be taken away. The constant fear of budget cuts takes away the school’s ability to act as a safe haven for the struggling students who need it most. For students who live under a cloud of doubt, schools should be able to provide a small relief, not additional uncertainty.


So, what have I concluded? Am I going into education policy because I passionately support the opportunities my high school afforded me or because I adamantly wish to protect students from the pain that I’ve witnessed? I think the answer is probably a bit of both. The fact that my school managed to provide so many students with an exceptional education in the face of overwhelming setbacks makes me hopeful. I have hope that both schools and their students can overcome the gargantuan obstacles that they continue to encounter. But I also have hope in students’ abilities to recognize the wrongs being done to them. And I must believe that we can stand up to urban school systems and fight for the equal opportunities that all students deserve.


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