Education Wishes for 2014

Jarett Fields ER Room

By Jarett Fields

Jarett Fields

Jarett Fields

This election year, voters will be subject to the same rigmarole of popular education stances by current and hopeful candidates.

But I hope those elected officials and future candidates, who make education a priority, will treat us to more substance concerning the work they will do to initiate and support policies that advance and improve education in the state.

Here is a list of my education wishes for 2014.

Wish #1: Bipartisanship. It is normal for reasonable people to disagree, but it’s also normal for folks to understand how important working together can be.

The struggles of our schools systems, families, and neighborhoods will not be solved by a single party.

Bipartisanship means doing the hard work necessary to seek out alliance and cooperation from Democrats to Republicans and vice versa.

It means having the courage to go against the grain (or the party) when your constituents’ say so. Sometimes, party politics impede on the interests of voters.

There is no reason to believe that what is best for the Democrat or Republican Party is best for every voter. For 2014, I hope to hear more ideas on solving problems together.

Wish #2: Inclusion. Right now, Wisconsin suffers from an educational cancer that requires intense chemotherapy.

Voters hear sound bites without context, historical or otherwise, about schools on a daily basis.

Pitting one type of school system over another makes it too easy for elected officials to campaign on an education platform that narrowly addresses a single system.

Instead, we should be encouraging, and forcing, our elected officials to address the improvement of all school systems.

Allowing elected officials to decry public schools, or charter schools, or vouchers alone prevents them from doing the real work.

And that is, producing legislation and initiatives that can improve students’ and families’ lives not matter which type of school they choose.

Wish #3: Consistency. School visits are important all year long. Not just for media or leverage. School visits help elected officials understand how policies affect the daily operations of schools.

Anyone seeking public office should be visiting all schools in their districts.

This is one way to speak from a more informed perspective during election season…and after.

Consistency means building a relationship with school leaders in the district.

It also means, being informed about the educational resources that are available in the district.

So when an education town hall is advertised, community residents, parents, children, and organizations can be in attendance.

Consistency is how relationships are built, and relationships matter for making change.

Wish #4: Community Engagement. When a community is engaged, things happen.

It is vital for future leaders in our communities to inspire, promote, and build engagement into their campaigns.

An engaged community can turnaround a school.

Community engagement is a long-term strategy.

It requires courage to do the work necessary to inform, but most importantly listen to those who feel powerless.

Parents around Milwaukee are speaking loud and clear with the decisions they make about where to send their children to school.

When leaders can engage those parents, families, and communities, we can begin to see policies that are initiated by the people because the power is with them.