As we take a moment to acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his tireless efforts to raise our collective conscience on civil rights, it’s important to reflect on the struggles of the past that still live on today.
Unlike Dr. King, my mother Marian Wright Edelman, and so many unheralded heroes in the South in the 1950s and 1960s, we don't have to risk our lives or livelihoods to stand up for what is right. But today, given the array of forces defending the status quo – with some even trying to take us backward – fighting for a high-quality education for every child still takes the incredible courage and conviction demonstrated by those civil rights leaders.
Dr. King famously stated, “A right delayed is a right denied.” A high-quality education for every student is a civil right, and in today’s world it’s also an economic imperative. We can’t afford to deny any child that right.
That’s why we’re continuing our fight -- both locally and statewide -- to make sure our kids receive the education they deserve.
Here are just some of the issues our teams across the country are focused on this year:
- Higher standards: At state capitols, school boards, and boards of education across the Stand network, our education advocates, staff, and parents are working to implement higher academic standards so all our students can graduate high school ready for college and career.
- Quality Pre-K: In many of our states, like Indiana, Massachusetts, and Louisiana, we’re focused on expanding access to quality pre-K and securing adequate funding for programs that give children the critical start they need.
- English Language Learner (ELL) programs: In Arizona, Oregon, and Washington, we’re going to work to make sure children are reading on grade-level and ensure we implement policies that strengthen ELL programs.
- Teacher quality: We know teachers are the most important factor for student achievement. That’s why we are going to help teachers do their best work in states like Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, and Oklahoma – by advocating for smart policies like increasing teacher pay, improving teacher preparation programs, and focusing on better teacher placement.
- Education funding: In many of our states, including Illinois, we’re going to support legislation and budgets that decrease inequity in education funding.
We will need your voice and action to get there. Let’s make sure our elected officials hear us this year as we carry forward the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I look forward to standing with you in 2016 as we make our voices heard on behalf of students who urgently need our help.