Chiefs for Change’s Bipartisan Vision for America’s Schools

A functional consensus is emerging among the nation’s boldest education leaders, producing not identical policies, but a set of vital principles that drive approaches shaped to the needs of each of their communities. It’s a set of principles born of extensive work, with the needs of students at the center. It’s worthy of the attention of the nation’s education policymakers because it represents what’s working for kids, with a focus on practice, not politics.

The principles crystallize conversations that took place in August among the members of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan alliance of results-driven state and large-district education chiefs that advocates for strong, proven policy nationwide. Collectively, the members who gathered for three days in Boston represent more than 5 million children, and they share a vision that all American children can lead fulfilling, self-determined lives as adults – as well as a deep dissatisfaction with an education system in which low-income students have less than a 10 percent chance of receiving an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

The group gathered to answer the question: At a time of tumult and polarization in the country, of hyperpartisanship and gridlock in Washington, is it possible for such a diverse group of leaders to form a bipartisan consensus about the path forward for America’s schools?

The answer was yes. Chiefs for Change recently released their finalized belief statements. In brief, the key elements are:

  • Real access to excellent public school choices – We must have a system in which all students, irrespective of geography or economic means, have fair access to all schools and real pathways to college and meaningful careers.
  • Challenging, worthwhile, engaging curriculum – For generations, American school children have learned through the lens of under-examined textbooks. All students deserve a learning experience that challenges them, feels relevant to them, ignites their curiosity and prepares them for college, meaningful careers and life.
  • A focus on excellent teaching, and preparation and supports for teachers – We must have the same high expectations for educators that we have for students.
  • Freedom from fear, freedom to learn – America’s schools must reflect our democracy’s highest ideals.
  • Accountability – You can’t aspire to excellence without defining excellence.

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