His Top 10 Critical Issues are, “the barriers that get in the way, or the important elements that we need to focus on in order to move forward and offer better opportunities to our students.”
School Leadership – If you go on Twitter, you will find hundreds of school leaders who consider themselves “Lead Learners.” This is very important because they see the important part they play in the lives of their students, teachers and staff. In addition, school leaders understand that they can have a positive or negative impact on their school climate, and too many still have a negative impact.
Pre-service Teaching Programs – How can we get the best teachers into our classrooms when so many politicians and policymakers cry that schools are failing? Under those circumstances, who would want to go into the profession? Additionally, pre-service programs need to improve because many of the graduates do not seem prepared for the profession. The real question for 2014 is how can K-12 schools work with these programs to build a community of learners who are prepared for the profession? A little less accountability tied to testing would go a long way to improve this issue.
School Climate – A few days ago Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines to stop the school to prison pipeline and improve school climate. This critical issue is not just about bullying, but about creating an inclusive school climate where all students can achieve their maximum potential.
Poverty – We know around 22% of our students are living in poverty. We also know that many children who live in poverty come to kindergarten hearing 1/8th of the language (vocabulary) that their wealthier peers experienced. Many of the schools that try to educate these students lack the proper resources, and the communities where children in poverty live often lack the same resources that wealthier towns have. Poverty is an issue that is one of the most critical issues of our time, in and out of schools.
Read his full commentary at Education Week.
When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!