Opportunity to Learn, Responsibility to Lead

State policymakers are the constitutional stewards and primary funders of America’s public schools. Through standards, data systems, funding, accountability expectations, and learning supports, as well as many other decisions, state policy significantly shapes and influences whether students have access to the opportunities they need and deserve. Opportunities to learn – the resources, experiences, and expectations students get access to – enable students to pursue their purpose, develop their agency, and contribute as community members and informed citizens. 

The attached brief from the Aspen Institute includes a set of principles for state leaders to advance an opportunity agenda through public education. Principles 1-3 directly address instruction and the student experience; principles 4-6 focus on important enabling conditions; and principles 7-9 address the state role in ensuring opportunities to learn. State leadership is essential to connect the things that students need and deserve to what public education provides. Accounting for opportunity is essential to reflect what we know about how people learn, and to ensure public education meets its obligation to provide opportunity to all. 

Principles to Advance an Opportunity Agenda Through Public Education Instruction and the Student Experience 

  • Principle 1: All students deserve the opportunity to develop their character, talents and interests, while receiving support to address individual learning needs.
  • Principle 2: All students deserve opportunities that prepare them to succeed in the future of work.
  • Principle 3: All students deserve opportunities that prepare them to fully participate in American democracy.
  • Principle 4: All students deserve safe and healthy environments that are conducive to academic learning.
  • Principle 5: All students deserve access to caring adults with expertise in creating quality learning environments and experiences.
  • Principle 6: All students deserve instruction and tasks that are worthy of their effort, aligned to state standards, and relevant to the skills they will need to succeed in life.
  • Principle 7: States establish essential policy context and enabling conditions regarding all students’ opportunities to learn.
  • Principle 8: Schools and public education systems need partnerships with other public agencies and service providers to adequately understand and address students’ needs, opportunities, and outcomes.
  • Principle 9: States must strategically collect and use data to illuminate the extent to which schools are providing all students with opportunities to learn.

For more, see: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Aspen-Ed-Soc-Opportunity-Responibility_v8-single.pdf