One of the five strategic issues identified by NAESP through its Vision 2021 project is that “NAESP should work to realize equity in public schools by championing the opportunity for all children to have learning experiences that help them achieve their full potential.” One way to achieve this goal, according to Jim Grant, founder and executive director of Staff Development for Educators and author of the upcoming book The Death of Common Sense in our Schools: And What You Can Do About It, is to recruit more “street fighters” in education.
The skyrocketing special education population is an example of the growing challenge of achieving equity in public schools. Grant believes that there has been an overall inability to “connect the dots” between this trend and socioeconomic trends such as increases in low birth weight, premature infants, childhood obesity, environmental pollutants and air quality, and fractured home lives. These trends have been correlated with decreased cognitive function, higher absenteeism, increases in autism and autism spectrum disorders, and increased emotional and psychological problems, respectively. Thus, Grant recommends that principals become more politically savvy about socioeconomic trends that deeply affect schools.
Educators also need to hold politicians more accountable for funding not only education but social services as well. Grant firmly believes that educators have to be street fighters willing to “push back” on politicians who act as “punishers” of education rather than “advocates.”
If educators want to champion equity, they will need to be more vigilant in vetting statistics from groups who are against public education, Grant says. Principals must “research the research and follow the money trail,” when campaigning for public education to expose the myths perpetrated in a media world that thrives on the negative.