Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Obama Era Has Arrived – Themes for Change in Education

It was indeed amazing to see our great democracy transition to the Obama era on January 20th, 2009. I hope that all of you around the country felt the same energy and the sense of possibility in your communities that I did standing on Pennsylvania Avenue. We all have reason to celebrate.

During the Inaugural weekend I also had the opportunity to visit briefly with the new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The fact that he gave me a little hug and told me that "now we have to make it happen", reaffirmed for me his commitment to community schools. In his words at his confirmation hearing ‘the more our schools become centers of community and family life, the better our children can do.” He is looking for our help to move this agenda forward. There are two themes I see as being of particular concern to the new Administration where community schools can help.

The first theme is responsibility -- parental responsibility for their children’s education and shared community responsibility for our youth. Community schools must work harder to involve parents and empower them to be deeply involved in their children’s education and to provide safe and supportive environments for their development. Community schools are lighthouses for the shared responsibility our new President seeks. The economic recovery program

The second theme is civic engagement. Schools are a natural focus for the Administration’s efforts to engage more Americans in the work of our democracy – this is another vital dimension of community schooling. We must create places where everyone is engaged in educating our children as democratic, caring, creative citizens.

As the Coalition pursues these themes and seeks greater visibility and support for our shared vision in the Obama era we will need your experience and wisdom even more. So I ask that you react to the themes I have suggested and tell us more about what we should be doing at the federal level.

We will continue to share our thinking with you and the broader education world through this blog and expect that your comments will continuously enrich our dialogue.

With great hope for the future,

Marty Blank

Director, Coalition for Community Schools

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