To the 45th President of the United States of America
Many aspects of our national conversation on education have become politicized. Yet while we may dispute the best means to the end, education leaders across the country passionately agree that every child deserves a high-quality education. As a new president and administration delve into their first year in office, we asked three education leaders from markedly different parts of the country to pen open letters to the new president articulating their hopes and priorities for this new administration.
Despite distinct perspectives and experiences, each of these leaders expressed a common sentiment: that we must demand public education that prepares our students — each and every one — for success in this country. The success of not only individual students, but indeed of our middle class and our nation hinges on this imperative goal.
These letters were written in advance of November 8, 2016 when our new president was decided and, therefore, do not use a name in the greeting for each.*
Every child regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.
Deborah A. Gist, Superintendent, Tulsa Public Schools
I’m still learning and have a long way to go to continue developing my own understanding of inequitable practices and institutional racism, and the country and I need your leadership on these long-standing barriers to a “more perfect union.” Our nation must do more to lift up opportunities and access for all children. This means that all students, regardless of family income, community income, gender, race or special circumstances, receive a quality education preparing them for college and careers. Five years from now marks the 100-year anniversary of the destruction of the Greenwood District. We have an obligation and an opportunity to demonstrate real progress during that period of time — and I look forward to this new administration taking a strong lead in working toward meaningful and sustainable change.
Deborah A. Gist
Superintendent, Tulsa Public Schools
Many classrooms are left unstaffed or under-staffed with less competent teachers. The situation must change and teaching must once again be elevated to the prestigious status it once enjoyed across this country.
Children need all these things: classrooms where expectations are high, where curriculum is deep and where latitude for learning is wide; schools and communities where opportunities abound for all children; and bright, caring, competent educators in their classrooms and leading their schools.
But, there is one more thing. It is already happening! Children in many classrooms and many schools and many communities are already getting all of this today. As our president you need not “reinvent the wheel,” but you absolutely must lead the way by helping us create a path for expanding our successes and making them more commonplace rather than exceptions to the rule. Be encouraged. America has always met its next challenge, and you have tens of thousands of educators who want to help you meet this one, too!
With best regards, I am, Sincerely yours,
Eric G. Mackey
Ed.D. Executive Director, School Superintendents of Alabama