In April 2019, I stood with the Governor of Virginia, the Secretary of Education, and the Superintendent of State to make the announcement. “Virginia is for learners. ” It was the epitome of multi-year education reform efforts spread across two governorates under the leadership of several state and local education leaders.
Since then, a growing group of impartial education leaders has been working hard to deliver on that promise. This includes the installation of Commonwealth Learning Partnership, A coalition of more than 40 academic groups and universities committed to modernizing Virginia’s public education system; Projection of #EquityVA, State Roadmap and Training on Educational Equality; And more recently, the establishment of a statewide educational foundation, Virginia learns.
These education leaders have consistently supported the education front in times of epidemics. Nonetheless, the extended crisis has led to sharp differences between parents and schools over schooling, which is fully demonstrated here. School board meetings And on social media. Virginia, like many other places, has a culture war that dominates discourse on public education, focusing on the needs of schools, teachers and students.
No wonder education is over Hot-button promotion issue In the recent governor’s race for Virginia. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe campaigned on his record. Republican candidates, Glenn Youngkin, Took Different perspectives, Facing fear and frustration in his constituency. Youngkin overcame the promise of more parental control in education, saying his first action would be to remove the state’s education chief and he would encourage school selection.
While this is an effective way to win the race, the problems that affect education in Covid Recovery miss out. Beyond platitudes and promises, we need decision-makers who bring people together to work for the common good of student learning, healing and recovery. Using education as a wedge issue to aggravate anger, resentment and division will only make matters worse.
Youngkin’s victory and the public discourse on education in Virginia and the US up to his election day highlights three issues that plague us in education: trust, truth, and trauma.
Peer experiences have eroded parents’ confidence in their children’s schools. Campaigns and conversations focus on who should have the right to a child’s education, when the reality is that parents and teachers share this responsibility.
For most children, the adults who help them learn go beyond home and school. Extended families, counselors, service providers and after school programs are also part of the equation. Adults need to work in partnership for the education and welfare of children. Parental and family involvement, including school-community partnerships, must be a top priority for states and schools. This requires effective engagement, working with parent groups, and professional development to provide a way for parents and community partners to have a voice in educational decisions.
Parents have their own role. It begins with a holy grail of empathy and openness towards those who run the school and teach the children. The last two years have been difficult for everyone, but the pressure and demands on teachers are overwhelming. Formal parent groups and informal organizing groups, such as the PTA, can establish and enforce a culture that upholds the dignity and values of all people.
Exacerbating the problems of this trust are frightening differences of opinion. Cultural wars are intensifying. CRT and school curriculum debates reveal the disturbing difference between the current situation and what people see as “truth” in American history. You cannot revolve around this point. We have to work through it. Schools and communities need the help of experienced facilitators and mediators to make difficult and necessary conversations about racism, inequality and our history. It is a work of reconciliation and is essential for the health, healing and well-being of students, families and communities. If we don’t, our children विशेष especially those who are black, brown, and local, will fall into the trap of the defects created by these cultural wars.
Trauma is an accelerator for faith and truth issues. We are almost two years into the most turbulent period that most of us have experienced and there are plenty of traumas. Without addressing, there will be a lasting impact on student learning and community capacity for mental health, teacher welfare and collective care. It takes time, training and attention to recover from a trauma. This is especially true in places and people who were already traumatized before Kovid. The time has come for leaders to prioritize and invest in mental health, receive trauma-informed care training, and work to improve care systems.
The future of our schools and long-coined education is more than recovery power, progress and choice. This will last longer than the campaign cycle, and even the governor term. The real recovery is about care, connection and treatment. In order for students to learn and run the school, we must work together and heal.
For almost eight years, I have worked with some of Virginia’s most inspiring teachers and education leaders. They know that Virginia is a promise to learners that extends into political and communal divisions, and should be true even in times of disruption or conflict. It is a way forward that supports students, builds better schools and a learning future where young people can thrive.