What makes for a great school? Safe and supporting environment? Caring and encouraging teachers? Up-to-date technology? Sufficient resources? Growing up, I was lucky enough to have access to most of these elements, but I am keenly aware that these are out of reach for millions of students. Fortunately, leaders in education, community, and businesses are paying attention. In January 2021, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, launched a national commission to redesign American public schools. In April this year, the commission came out with a report promoting a new vision of the public school.
The new vision surrounds three key components:
1) Culture: the entire system must attend to the social, emotional, cognitive, mental health, and trauma-based needs of ALL learners; ALL children, families, and staff must be embraced, valued equally, and served with equity—regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic circumstance, or disability; Schools must routinely anticipate forthcoming changes in the career, social, economic, and technological landscapes to inform all decisions today.
2) Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Growth Model: Instruction and learning must happen on a growth model continuum, where data analytics, planning, learning, and evidence of learning operate in a feedback loop to personalize learning.
3) Resources: Broadband must be deemed a public utility so that ALL learners have access to the technologies necessary to access and accelerate learning; educators, learners, and learners’ families must have access to a robust, multi-tiered system of supports; ALL children must engage in high-impact early learning to prepare them to function as co-authors of learning in their K-12 journey; Educators and staff must represent the learners, families, and communities they serve, so that true culturally responsive learning is possible.
The report calls for school transformation by 2025. The stake is high, and the task is daunting. Let’s be part of the multi-tiered system of supports.