We believe that, first and foremost, with the reminder that the time for talk and complaining has come to an end. The only thing that will stop the “runaway train of misguided reforms” is action by Americans united behind a common mission.
The key to that transformation of public education and to giving every single American child the best possible chance for a quality education is parents and teachers working as partners committed to supporting one another in every possible way. This most important of objectives cannot be accomplished with Americans working unilaterally. Such an endeavor must begin somewhere. We believe it must start with a strategic action plan, behind which people can join together in support.
We need a plan to transform public education in America. In my book, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America, I offer such a plan: a blueprint to transform both the structure of public education and educational process that works within that structure. I am asking Americans to utilize this blueprint as a point of embarkation.
Understand that this strategic plan is not carpetbag of quick fixes and incremental changes, rather it is a comprehensive, coordinated, and interdependent plan to address public education as an integral whole.
We think it can best begin with teachers because no organized group of Americans is more intimately involved in education, no group has more firsthand knowledge and experience, and no group has more at stake than teachers. That being said, let us be as clear as possible in saying that this is an issue in which every citizen, individually or collectively, has a stake and where each has a very specific role to play.
We ask teacher associations and teachers’ unions in each of the fifty states, and also the national offices of these organizations, to adopt this strategic plan and blueprint as part of the official mission of their organization and we believe the plan to be consistent with the established missions of each of these separate entities.
Once adopted as a central core of the mission of each teacher association and teachers’ union, we ask that those organizations use the full power and influence of their organizations to make it happen.
We ask the leaderships of these entities and each of their members to begin calling upon their elected representatives at every level and branch of government to make education the number one priority on the American agenda and to ask every American parent to partner with the teachers of their sons and daughters to give them the future that not only do they deserve but upon which entire society depends.
Within each of the jurisdictions of these teacher associations and unions, we ask that the leadership of these entities begin presenting the plan to each and every public school district and soliciting their agreement to formally review the plan for implementation in each of their respective schools. We ask that these associations and unions also reach out to private and parochial schools, and charter schools as every child needs the best opportunity that we are able to give.
We ask that the plan be presented to the faculties of the education departments of every institution of higher learning within their state or jurisdiction. We also recommend that they present the plan to every chamber of commerce. In each case the objective will be to educate both the leadership and memberships of these entities and asking them to endorse the plan and establishing its support as part of their ongoing mission.
At the national level we propose that the leaderships of each of these national organizations make the a similar commitment to take the plan to every professional association with education as its central mission; to every organization and foundation with educational reform as a primary agenda item; to labor organizations in every industry in the nation; and to every organization and trade association representing every major industry. We also ask that they lobby our elected and appointed officials of our federal government using the full resources at their disposal.
As we move forward, gaining momentum and broadening the grassroots support for our strategic plan, we will ask every American citizen and each and every one of their respective organizations and alliances to clamor for our federal, state, and local governments to declare education the most important item on the American agenda and to challenge every American mother and father to accept responsibility as full partners in the education of their children.
What follows in the next post are thirty-three (33) action items to carry out the implementation of this newly established strategic plan of action, one school district or organization at time until it is the reality in every school district and every private, parochial, and charter school in the United States. The action items are divided into two groups. The first is for implementation within our schools to transform the educational process. The second group will be focused on soliciting the support of the community at every level and venue.
The plan is constructed in such a way that it can evolve as our professional educators learn what works best in their particular environment. It is a plan that is designed to be a learning and adaptive process. The only aspects of the plan that are non-negotiable are our commitment to give each child an opportunity for a quality education and to preserve and protect the relationship between our schools and the communities they exist to serve.
Finally, we challenge the reader not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of our challenge. It is nothing more than a human engineering problem. Much like the construction of a skyscraper, dam, or suspension bridge it requires only that we manage all of the components of the process, per the blueprint, one phase at a time. If we approach it thus, a successful outcome is a forgone conclusion.