Reimagining Education

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Excellence in Action

Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

Recently the staff from the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri traveled to San Francisco for the two day Excellence in Action Conference hosted by the Excellence in Education Foundation. From of the dozens of topics covered, four common themes that all education reformers should keep in mind emerged. Because Missouri is poised to make bold moves to improve the quality of education, I thought now would be a great time to share some of these themes with Missouri’s education reformers.

1. Don’t compromise if compromise means you are giving up what is best for kids

  • Top reformers such as Tony Bennett from Indiana, Chris Cerf from New Jersey, and Tim Melton from Michigan all stressed that compromising with anti-reformers just to pass a weak piece of legislation will result in a failure for kids.

2. Be Bold

  • The lawmakers, advocates and stakeholders are all in agreement that trying to tackle one education reform item at a time isn’t good enough. If it is good for kids, get it done—all of it.

3. Think about implementation

  • All education reform laws have to be implementable and enforceable. When deciding which policies to support, the speakers at the conference said, look around, talk to reformers in other states. Learn from one another. If you pass a law that can’t be implemented, you have wasted your political capital.

4. Grassroots, grassroots, grassroots

  • Engaging parents and other concerned citizens is essential! If you can’t get parents to the Capitol building to testify and you don’t have parent support for what you are doing, it wont be successful. No one cares about a child more than their parents. A parent’s passion and dedication cannot be matched, especially by a paid lobbyist. Find your grassroots early and engage them often.

Each  of these points can be applied to any education reform subject: teacher tenure reform, open enrollment, charter expansion, etc. I left the conference feeling energized and hopeful because I know the brilliant people working with us to improve the quality of education for children in Missouri are ready to embrace all of this advice and get big things done for kids.

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