Very powerful words from the Secretary of Education are featured below. These words support the important work happening in the YMCA Community Learning Center (CLC) at the Sulphur Springs Elementary School and in the community with Out of School Time (OST) partner organizations. The Sulphur Springs Elementary School moved from an "F" to a high "B" performing school. This affirms that they are practicing cutting edge strategies with the Sulphur Springs CLC model.
Sometimes the prospect of turning around schools might seem a little bit daunting, but if we set realistic and doable goals, that job is absolutely possible. Think about this for a minute. We have about 100,000 schools here in America. If we turn around just the bottom 1 percent, the bottom 1,000 schools per year for the next five years, we could really move the needle, lift the bottom, and change the lives of tens of millions of under-served children. As we commit to turning around schools each year, we must also stay the course with them and use what we learn each year to inform the next generation of turnarounds. This is a manageable goal, and we have neither time nor money to waste.
In the coming months I’ll be traveling around the country to listen and to learn from people. I started last week in West Virginia, and I’ll be in Michigan and Vermont this week. I’ll go to rural and suburban and urban America. I’ll talk to parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Basically, I want to launch a national conversation on public education before we sit down and rewrite the No Child Left Behind law. I need your help as well to turn good ideas into successful strategies to meet our toughest educational challenges. We have an opportunity before us to lay the foundation for a generation of education reform. We have an opportunity to replace almost a third of the teaching workforce in this country in the next few years as the baby boomer generation retires, and we bring as many as a million new teachers into our schools around the country. And we have an opportunity to finally make good on the promise of Brown vs. Board of Education.
But it requires courage. It requires real courage to take the political heat that comes of real change. It requires honesty to admit our failures and to shift our dollars to the things that will make a difference for our children and make a difference now. And it requires us to hold each other accountable, both for what we do and for what we say. So I look forward to the conversation with you.