I can imagine no more important contribution to our country's future than a long-term commitment to improving urban K-12 public schools.
You can have great teachers, but if you don't have a good principal, you won't have a good school.
The first dream I had was just to get a college education. I got through college in three years, taking extra classes in summer school.
Frankly, I'm not sure how far I would get if I attended public school today. It's not just that public schools aren't producing the results we want - it's that we're not giving them what they need to help students achieve at high levels. K-12 education in the United States is deeply antiquated.
I am old enough to remember when America's K-12 public schools were the best in the world. I am a proud graduate of them, and I credit much of my success to what I learned in Detroit Public Schools and at Michigan State University.
School boards are, for the most part ,made up of political wannabes who see a board seat as a stepping stone for political office, or well-meaning parents who represent an ethnic group or geography, or have some other narrow interests. Few people on them understand what governance is about.
The biggest barrier we've seen to student progress is this: School policies and practices often prevent good teachers from doing great work and even dissuade some talented Americans from entering the profession. This needs to change.
In high school, I would drive my teachers batty. They would make a statement, and I would say, 'Why is that?' They didn't want to be questioned.
School district policies and practices have not kept pace with student and teacher needs.
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