There has never been a more necessary time for partnerships between schools, homes, and the community. The opportunity of a job that pays a livable wage has always been available to just about everyone. We’ve taken that for granted. Now, we hear that young people not only require a high school education but a type of post-secondary experience that provides a greater depth of formal knowledge or specific technical skill training. Parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and business people must contribute to helping children acquire a skill set necessary to actively participate in an increasingly more complex world. The lever for the opportunity, however, must be our system of public education.
President John Adams once said, “Laws for the liberal education of youth are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.” Education will always be a great equalizer, but regardless of the effort to provide a quality experience the benefit will go only to those that take advantage of the opportunity it provides. Schools must provide the opportunities that students avail themselves of, and parents must be sure their children understand that the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, as well as skills such as the ability to collaborate, and to engage in decision-making and creative thinking will position them for the versatility of a postindustrial workplace.
Nick Caserio, the director of player personnel for the New England Patriots, when describing the group of street free agents and undrafted players that made up half of the 2010-2011 team roster said, “Those players have come in, they’ve worked hard, they’ve had opportunities, and they’ve made the most of their opportunities while they’ve been here.
In the end, it’s about the players going out there and performing…” He clearly emphasized the players’ taking advantage of the opportunities they had been given. Yet, he also acknowledges the role played by coaches, and in our schools the students need to take advantage of opportunities, but our staff must ensure that the opportunity is optimal.
As John Adams suggested long ago, “…creating equity in education is an investment, one that requires more than economically shrewd and politically lukewarm solutions. It requires a clear vision of the true landscape of opportunity, an understanding of our schools as one of many stages where these opportunity gaps play out…”
Unquestionably, we live in interesting times. We have an obligation to open our minds and hearts to ideas that will provide our children with the best of opportunities. Among vision and civility and within an engaged discourse, we will have the public education our students need.