Tools you can use: These Talking Points can help you frame the education debates/discussions in your community—to focus on systemic solutions that ensure all children have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn, rather than the lottery-driven options that haven’t been proven and aren’t scalable.
Embargoed for release until
Monday, July 26, 2010, 10 AM
For more information contact:
Kari Hudnell (202) 955-9450 x 318
Stephanie Dukes (202) 955-9450 x 314
Prominent Civil Rights Leaders Unite to Push for a Federal Education Agenda That Gives All Students an “Opportunity To Learn”
WASHINGTON – July 26, 2010 –Prominent civil-rights leaders today joined force to call for the adoption of federal education policies that create the framework and conditions necessary to achieve equitable opportunities for all.
The leaders called on the Obama Administration and Congress to revamp the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by leveraging federal resources available to all states. As a part of extending an opportunity to learn as a right, the leaders asked the President to demand and support universal access to early education for students in all states. They also seek to ensure that all students have access to highly effective teachers. Their plan calls for providing incentives to recruit and retain highly effective educators and improve the teaching and learning conditions in high–need, low-income, and rural areas. Their plan also urges the federal government to institutionalize a national resource accountability system so that all students and parents will live within communities with the type of educational systems where students can achieve high outcomes.
Addressing Resource Inequities
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is a community of 36 Christian communions with a combined membership of 45 million persons in more than 100,000 congregations across this country. Our member churches – from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches – do not agree on all things! We stand united, however, in our conviction that the church is called to speak for justice in public education.
A Pastoral Letter on Federal Policy in Public Education: An Ecumenical Call for Justice
Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,
To help keep girls in school and on track for success, the National Women’s Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund went straight to the source: Latina students and the adults who work with them every day. Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation, explores the causes of the dropout crisis for Latinas and identifies the actions needed to improve their graduation rates and get them ready for college.
Latinas are dropping out of school in alarming numbers. Forty-one percent of Latina students do not graduate with their class in four years—if they graduate at all. Many Latina students face challenges related to poverty, immigration status, limited English proficiency, and damaging gender and ethnic stereotypes. And the high teen pregnancy rate for Latinas — the highest of any ethnic group — reflects and reinforces the barriers they face.
John H. Jackson is President and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education. In this interview he responds to questions about Lost Opportunity: a 50 state Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America.
This interview with Dr. John H. Jackson, Ed.D. J.D. was written By: Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist with EducationNews.org on May 28, 2009. In the interview Dr. Jackson discusses how the Schott Foundation first became involved with the report Lost Opportunity: a 50 state Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America. He discusses this as much more than a report; it is a platform for change.
Learn about the Opportunity to Learn Campaign’s proposal for a federal resource standards and accountability system and how this system would supplement state education funding and accountability, improve resource distribution efficiencies and yield grater return on investment.
In far too many states, students are denied access to the resources that provide a meaningful opportunity to learn. There is no substitute for opportunity, not in our schools, our workplaces, or our society. Opportunity is at the heart of our American dream. Yet many students who need a high-quality preschool go without. Many children are taught by ineffective teachers lacking in baseline qualifications and experience. Too many attend under-performing schools that lack the resources necessary to effectively raise achievement.
The Opportunity to Learn Campaign’s federal policy recommendations reinforce the national goal of boosting achievement and opportunity for all students, focusing needed attention on the specific solutions that ensure all students – particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups – are provided a fair and substantive opportunity to learn through access to high-quality learning opportunities.
In March 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law, nearly doubling the federal investment in public education. As funding reaches states, decisions must be made that reflect and support the law’s intention – to protect existing funding levels for our public schools while ensuring LEA’s prioritize improvement and opportunities for all students by institutionalizing resource accountability standards. Now is the time for state and local policymakers to take every available step to eliminate the opportunity gap.
In most states inequities in the Opportunity to Learn are best illustrated by the difference between the opportunities available to male Black and male White, non-Latino students. Montana’s graduation rate for male Black students is 57%; for male White students 81%; a difference of 25%. For more information, see the Schott Foundation for Public Education's report, Given Half a Chance.
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
The Opportunity to Learn Campaigns’s federal policy recommendations focus needed attention on the specific solutions that ensure all students – particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups – are provided a fair and substantive opportunity to learn through access to high-quality learning opportunities. The central federal policy recommendation calls for developing and monitoring a set of research-based, resource equity standards.
While many organizations have worked effectively at the state level to support research and advocacy efforts to guarantee that all children have the resources they need for an equitable opportunity to learn, the Opportunity to Learn Campaign recognizes that state remedies have not been sufficient to address the deep inequities in educational opportunity found both within and across states. A larger federal role is needed to ensure that all students have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.