Teacher Town Hall

teacher town hallIf you haven’t heard of Michelle Rhee then get ready to have your world turned right-side-up. She is a proactive, polarizing, purposeful reformer of our broken public school system. Her mission is very simple: to put students first.

As we all know, this mission, albeit simple in name, is complex in nature. Even if we skip over the contentious pro/anti union debate we are still left with the daunting realization that our government is required to educate 74 million children in America. 74 million!

In Michelle’s Teach for America days, she was ushered into zip codes where that commitment flat-out failed. As she became more aware of the forgotten children she found herself drawn towards education reform. It’s fitting that on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous I have a dream speech we are looking at our accomplishments but realizing there’s still a long way to go. Don’t let the reality of the situation get you down though. Instead, tap into your fighting reformer spirit and find a way to get involved– make a change for the better.

If you’re in Los Angeles (9/5), Birmingham (9/12), or Philadelphia (9/16) make it a point to stop by this free Teacher Town Hall for a little education and inspiration.

Recommended Read–Radical: Fighting to Put Students First by Michelle Rhee

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

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Yes, Education Is Still “The Great Equalizer”

great equalizerLately, I’ve read a lot of articles about how education is no longer “The Great Equalizer”. Their pointed commentary saddens me because it perpetuates a stereotypical cynicism that only contributes to the The Great Economic and Social Divide. Are we as a society so beaten down from The Great Recession that we have discarded all hope for change? Plain and simple, these articles are wrong. Because if there’s one thing for certain in our culture it is that despite the financial and social hardships you may have faced or are facing now, you can change your situation through education. I know because I did.

Don’t Give Up!

My story may be atypical to a person of my background (Caucasian race, half-Jewish ethnicity, and from a two-parent household) but like every family my family also struggled; we just happened to struggle financially. My parents came from broken homes and sought solace in each other. They knew only what was modeled for them as children and had to learn effective parenting “on-the-job”. I spent my Elementary and Junior High years in a school district on the verge of losing its accreditation and when my parents allowed me to live with my friend’s family in order to attend a better school I quickly realized that grade inflation was a real thing: I was not the ‘A’ student I had banked on but a ‘C’ student instead. It threw my world, my high-school identity, out of whack. I struggled for a semester and then I made a resolution to not give up. Instead, I tapped into my innate gumption to succeed, and I’ve never stopped pushing myself towards something better. I went from food stamps to a law degree and now own my own company with the simple trio of hard-work, tenacity, and a genuine belief that my positive choices beget positive changes. Now you may say, “Well, she just happened to be blessed with ‘The Brains'”. According to the IQ tests, that’s partially true, but I know plenty of naturally gifted people who can’t function in society. Without the other half of the equation–the commitment to bettering myself through education–I, too, could have easily been one of them.

Education Deters The Cycle of Poverty

Why am I harping on this need to tout Education as The Great Equalizer? It really goes back to Horace Mann’s foundational purpose of change when he said, “Education…beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of men –the balance wheel of the social machinery…It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor”. It doesn’t benefit anyone if we dwell on the negative and stew in our failures. I choose to dwell on the positive and look towards the future with hope, knowing that when we stand together in solidarity real change is the result. Let go of those coulda-woulda-shoulda’s and focus on helping yourself and your family absorb the goodness that education can bring.

Instill A Love of Learning In Your Child

I have no doubt that all parents want their children to succeed by doing better than they’ve done themselves. I’m here to tell you that it’s not about having the best of the best but rather instilling a genuine love of learning in your children while they are young and impressionable. Despite my family’s hardships, my parents were positive influencers when it came to education; they instilled a genuine love of learning in myself and my sisters, and as a result all three of us are college educated and self-reliant.

Connect and Commit To Education

Education is still The Great Equalizer. It is a powerful vehicle for change: you can come from a tough upbringing and use education as your ticket out; you can parlay your innate skills into successes with the combination of natural ability and positive guidance; you can bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots simply by making a commitment to learning. Let us as a society connect with one another on this platform and retrain our brains to focus on the betterment that education can bring. It may be cliché but education really can make a difference.

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