The education system in the United States must evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to one in which students’ individualized needs are served by an ecosystem of more flexible learning opportunities. This approach, Assembly, is growing and serving more families than ever.
Many families already engage in different flavors of Assembly — from home-schooling co-ops to after-school enrichment to work-based learning — but access too often depends on families’ financial and social capital. The same is true of adults who are dedicated to serving the needs of students but whose access to the full range of potential roles and responsibilities is constrained in the status quo.
Measuring by dollars invested, human capital is the primary way we invest in education. Within the school system, millions of adults are growing increasingly dissatisfied and burnt out in inflexible roles that are not competitively compensated, have too many responsibilities, and offer too few opportunities for advancement or entrepreneurialism. Roles for adults outside the school system are also challenging. Those that serve children through out-of-school learning opportunities often have more flexibility, but they lack the benefit of supportive peer networks or established institutions and struggle to coordinate with schools and each other. Family members and a plethora of community members also contribute in big and small ways to help the next generation of students learn but face similar barriers to coordination.
Like students, adults are seeking greater autonomy and flexibility within the educational ecosystem. A new approach is needed.
Rather than fitting adults into neat boxes with consistent job titles and rigid salary schedules in unresponsive systems, Assembly requires embracing new and different methods of empowering adults to better support children. Sector leaders must develop new ways to bring the vast pool of talent that both is and could be serving students into roles that better meet children’s needs.
For more on Assembly, read Bellwether’s new report, An Assembly of Talent: Empowering and Expanding Human Capital in Education by Linea Koehler, Alex Spurrier, and Juliet Squire: https://bellwether.org/publications/an-assembly-of-talent/?activeTab=1