Peter Cunningham - Diversity & Families in the Education Movement

Yesterday, Peter Cunningham, editor-in-chief of Education Post, posted an article entitled: "Education Reform in 2018 Is Going to Need a Parent Seal of Approval."

It's a great piece that combines two very important ideas in education these days.  First, he rightly notes the important shift in the education reform space to diversify across all lines of difference and also share power with community voices. Second, he makes a strong and clear case for family voice & family work in the education community (also friendly note Peter: use family, way more include than "parent").  The first is an important observation and the second is an clarion call for education advocates going forward.

The truth is that these organizations have a tremendous road to climb to be the diverse communities of practice that they aspire to be.  However, life is about progress, not perfection and these orgs deserve credit for this.  We should all be working towards the goal of diversifying organizations and systems across our nation and globe.

That the broader education community is waking up to the power of community and parent voice is also really exciting.  It's been a fashionable topic for recent years and the subject of much debate among advocates. Is "the reform community" really waking up? If so, it is both long overdue and also a place to pause and build learning.  Too many reform or education advocates believe the only place for parents in their "movement" is to advocate for change they already believe in.  This is mobilization tokenism and should be avoided at all costs.  To his credit, Cunningham, does not make this case. He actually makes the bigger case for the Open System, bringing parents and families into the discussion at all levels:  

"Whether it is restorative justice, open enrollment, personalized learning or other emerging ideas in the education landscape, success will only happen and go to scale if parents are the champions of the change.

So, in an education system where more than half of the students are people of color and more than half come from low-income backgrounds, racial and economic diversity in the dialogue matters immensely. As Chris Stewart often laments, too often, people in education are, “talking about us, without us.”

Similarly, with 50-60 million school-age children in America, there are a comparable number of energetic, curious and hopeful parents out there who are fighting to be heard and vital to our collective success. We can work harder to lift their voices, empower them, respect them and, ultimately, follow them."

It's a powerful statement from an important leader in the education sector.  Kudos to him for taking it on and I hope he uses his platform at EdPost to keep these voices at the forefront of the movement.