On May 17th, the country will mark the 49th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – the landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that separate educational facilities for black and white Americans are inherently unequal, and thus, unconstitutional. Today, the Alliance for Excellent Education is calling for a national movement that will demand and secure basic educational rights for all American children – and in particular, for the six million secondary school students who read below basic levels and are at great risk of dropping out of high school unprepared for college or a productive future.
In a new policy brief, The Building Blocks of Success for America’s Middle and High School Students, the Alliance lists eight components that are critical to student success. These emerged from an Alliance analysis of education and economic research, current and proposed legislation and voter initiatives, and public opinion polls to determine the elements of an excellent education for middle school and high school students. When appropriate, the Alliance urges federal government action to ensure students’ access to these basic elements:
- High-quality classroom teachers and school administrators
- Rigorous academic standards, curricula, and methods of instruction
- Small class sizes and small schools
- High-quality facilities
- High-quality textbooks, instructional materials, and library resources
- Up-to-date and accessible computer technology
- High-quality counseling
- Support services for struggling students
Since the 1954 Court decision, which was a major factor in launching the modern civil rights movement, much has changed in American schools. But huge inequalities remain, and must be addressed. Minority students from low-income families living in inner-city and rural settings face particularly daunting challenges as they seek to overcome the impediments to educational success that remain inherent in our system.
The national movement that the Alliance for Excellent Education calls for today is desperately needed. Without a well-educated citizenry, American productivity and civic strength are at risk. Before Brown v. Board of Education marks its fiftieth anniversary, this country must take active steps to assure that all secondary students have access to the basic components listed above – moving the country down a social and economic path that will benefit individuals and society for decades to come.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: https://all4ed.org.