How do we ensure that every child in America receives a quality education? This is the question that keeps education advocates up at night – often parents themselves – the task of adapting the American public education system to our rapidly changing world has been an on-going conversation for 30+ years. However, the conversation has radically moved to action as more and more advocates look for inspiration outside of the traditional schoolhouse.
Hosted by Excel in Education, the 11th National Summit on Education Reform opened with a charge from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to “Go big, be bold, and be impatient.” For two days, over 1,000 policymakers, school administrators, and education stakeholders convened in Washington D.C. to share ideas, challenges, and solutions to improving America’s schools. Repeatedly, conference keynote speakers and panelists emphasized the need for a sense of urgency – now is the time to tackle the issues with a new sense of purpose and vigor.
Earlier this year, Colorado Succeeds released Vision 2030 – a framework for education. As we rally around this Vision we know that we must recognize that learning happens everywhere and that student learning is represented in by more than just “seat time.” In the opening keynote, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) reminded us that, “Children are not widgets, they’re souls.” Ignoring the need to provide younger students with intentional opportunities to grow into adults with key soft skills – such as communication and creative problem-solving – is a missed opportunity.
The landscape for building a better future is inclusive. Business leaders are vocalizing their needs and seizing opportunities to support educators. The conference highlighted educators who are encouraged by agency and autonomy to transform their classrooms – opened up through windows of state-level policy. Colorado legislators and other advocates were there to listen and learn and commit to pushing their state forward. With radical new approaches to education, we can ensure that quality education is a reality for every child.