There is a Hurricane Brewing in Education. Are We Prepared?

There this  phenomenon that happens in Florida: I call it the “Hurricane Effect”.

A remarkable thing happens during the hurricane frenzy and you only know it if you live in this part of the world: People look out for people. We come out and help each other put up shutters, clear patio furniture that could turn into flying missiles, and tell each other where to find supplies.

There are no walls, no differences, no political affiliations…no barriers. We cut through the crap and look out for the most vulnerable.

This election season reminded me of a hurricane.  We saw a storm headed our way.  We didn’t know how strong it was going to be, if it would make landfall, or what areas would be hit.  And, like always, we habitually watched our storm-trackers and analysts, relying on their expertise.

Then it hit with the force of a CAT 5 freight train barreling through everything we knew to be real. We were not prepared.

In the aftermath, the reality of the new administration is a secondary storm brewing out in the Atlantic.  This time, we know it will make landfall and education is just one of the many issues sitting directly in its projected path. Most noteworthy is an appointment of secretary of education Betsy DeVos, who has radical ideas about school choice.

Her staunch advocacy for school choice, including vouchers to private schools using public dollars, has not translated into quality educational options.  In fact, it has largely diminished the focus on quality choices and resulted in below average test scores in Michigan.  We must not forget that while some charter schools are in fact performing well, the vast majority of families chose neighborhood public schools.  Quality public education can not take the backseat on any political agenda.

We Should Have Seen This Coming

Folks like Betsy DeVos would say this impending storm on education has been brewing for a while.  After all, the quality of public education varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. Kids are graduating at a higher rate, but are not ready for life after high school.  And, though there has been significant progress in reaching the most marginalized kids, we are still failing our students of color, especially our boys.  Boys like my son.

Those facts are undeniable, but the story is broader.  To truly understand the context of failing schools we must widen our lenses to include the history of how marginalized neighborhoods were created and how very different life is for kids in poor communities.  The impending laser focus on school choice could prove detrimental to addressing the serious issues poverty and race play in the educational narrative.

It’s Time to Mobilize the ‘Hurricane Effect’

As a parent, I hope and pray that the final outcome leads to high-quality schools for all, and not just shuffling dollars and paper.  Frankly, right now I am more than worried about the millionaire decision-makers, who surround themselves with more millionaires voices, proudly believing they understand the plight of the underrepresented.

For whatever the reason, here we are again: A bunch of politicians, and not enough parents, making predictions about the damage this new storm will cause.  If your alarms weren’t going off before, they should be blaring at a deafening decibel right now. Mine are.

So, I think it’s time to mobilize the “hurricane effect.”  Kids that look just like mine are directly in the red hot path of this storm.  Wipe off your lenses, put your differences aside and focus squarely on protecting our most vulnerable. Let’s get educated, get engaged, and get prepared.





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