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Perspective | Strengthening public education: A unified call to action

Parents and families, educators, and community members recognize and appreciate the pivotal role of local public schools in enriching their communities and the lives of their children. Fostering excellence and equity in K-12 public education not only promotes student achievement; it is essential to our nation’s global competitiveness and democratic way of life.

K-12 educators recognize that graduates need to finish high school with the skills to operate at the much higher levels our current and future economy demands. An educated citizenry is more productive, enjoys higher earning power and contributes to economic growth. Besides academic learning, graduates need 21st Century skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers. Schools are places of exploration and discovery, where students find their interests and strengths, where they learn to problem-solve and work collaboratively with others, where they learn valuable skills to serve them in their postsecondary choices.

Our public schools are facing many challenges today including state budget cuts, political in-fighting, and post-pandemic recovery issues. We can’t afford to let our youth be negatively affected by unresolved adult conflicts.

How can we ensure that public schools remain the heart and backbone of their communities? How can educators prioritize students’ individual needs, foster mental health and resilience, and equip our youth with the tools and skills they must learn at an accelerated pace? How can we study the benefits of career and technical education, apprenticeships, and dual enrollment programs? How can we ensure every child has an opportunity to realize their full potential?

We must adopt a solution mindset, not one that gets lost in rhetoric. By focusing on tangible outcomes and consensus-building, we can cultivate a mindset that values students and the school environment. By working together on practical solutions — families, schools, faculty, communities, and policymakers — we can foster innovation that benefits students while inspiring more individuals to enter education as a profession.

This shared responsibility calls for a collective change in behaviors — by our families, our communities, and our policymakers. We must move beyond debates and uncivil discourse and work together collaboratively to support the success of all of our students, especially students who need extra support. We must reinforce the foundation of public education — to provide free education to all children to ensure they are prepared to lead fulfilling lives as responsible members of society — and we must do it now.

Alma Powell, the chair of America’s Promise, once said: “Nothing is unattainable when America comes together around a common cause.” Today, more than ever, that common cause needs to be our local schools. Public education is essential to our nation’s economic and social health. Let’s not let that message get lost in the public discourse.

Susan Moore

Susan Moore is the director of instructional technology and curriculum at Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut and the 2023 CoSN CTO of the Year.

Rodney Walker

Rodney Walker is Maryland’s 2023 National Distinguished Elementary School Principal of the Year and the principal of Brooklyn Park Elementary School.

Diana Virgil

Diana Virgil is the American School Counselor Association’s national 2024 School Counselor of the Year and the school counselor at Daleville High School in Daleville, Alabama.

Milan Aranda

Milan Aranda is the national student president of Educators Rising and a student at Northwest Missouri State University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ashley Aldridge Wilson

Ashley Aldridge Wilson is the principal of Nolan Elementary in Hamilton County, Tennessee, a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.