David Hornbeck, former Maryland Commissioner of Education, Superintendent of the Philadelphia public schools and founder of Good Schools Pennsylvania, spoke on April 22 at the "Mayor's Breakfast" for the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition. A minister, lawyer, community organizer and advocate for children, Hornbeck blew me away with his challenging message about education in America, especially among the children of low-income folks.
He informed an attentive audience of community leaders who work mostly in West Dallas that we have the knowhow to educate any and every child "in whom we have an interest." Of course, the last phrase is the key to our opportunities, as well as our failures, isn't it?
In public education today, our problems are not related to knowledge, but to will.
He asked us if we wanted for all children the same educational options that we desire for our own children and grandchildren.
He quoted the words recorded in Matthew 25:31ff where Jesus says that whenever we serve the hungry, the naked, the outsider, the homeless, the ill and the imprisoned, we serve him. Hornbeck quickly pointed out that folks who fall into any of those classic categories of need and want are "disproportionately undereducated."
He told us that the ability to predict a child's level of educational attainment by learning their zip code is "immoral" and unacceptable.
He finished his lecture by listing the "4 requirements" for educating every child in the nation regardless of income, race or status:
1) We must believe that all children can achieve and at a high level. Expectations are key. This belief must permeate every decision that we make in creating a learning condition.
2) We must use effective practices so that results trump tradition or long-established process.
3) We must develop fair accountability systems for teachers and students.
4) We must find adequate funding that is fairly (justly) raised and equitably distributed, recognizing that local areas will need assistance from their states.
The only reason we don't get it done is our lack of public and political will.
Lot's to consider in his words of experience and wisdom.
What do you think?