As we launch our new Parents for Public Schools website, I am reminded that our PPS mission of advancing the role of families and communities in securing a high quality education for every child is more important than ever. Public schools are a unique part of our democracy. When the first settlers in New England founded their communities they were required to build a church, a public meeting place and a school. Public schools emerged as a way to support a democratic society. We can debate whether the quality or inclusiveness of our schools were fair but we know that education enriches a person’s life as well as creates a society where public life is valued.
Americans have not always educated all children. There was often an underlying conviction that not every child needed to be educated (or equally educated). In order to flourish, we need a society that values the education of all children. Without quality public schools a system of haves and have nots will continue to be perpetuated and the danger of those inequities are readily evident today.
Every child can learn and we cannot let pre-conceived notions of who can be successful or who deserves to succeed effect the quality of an education. Public schools are being asked to do more than ever before. We want schools to educate all children, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or economic situation. We ask schools to take children who are living traumatized lives and heal them. We expect high standardized test scores, higher graduation rates, and college-and-career success from our schools and our teachers. Yet despite those challenges, many of our public schools are doing a good job.
This fall 50.7 million children will attend public schools. 15 million children live in families below the federal poverty threshold. Our schools mirror our communities and the future of public education depends on decisions made at the community level. Parents for Public Schools was founded on the belief that public schools were essential and it was up to everyone in a community to support those schools. That was true twenty-six years ago and it is true today.
We are going to use this platform to share successes and challenges. Over the next few years, we will invite our chapters to share their stories of how they have helped their schools. We will ask others at the grass roots level to comment on challenges and successes at their local schools. We will analyze policy proposals and give our point of view. We will not beat up on teachers or schools. PPS is part of the solution and we invite others that want to be engaged in strengthening public schools for every child to join the conversation.