A quality education for all public school students

Ning / MCT

Educators, parents, students and community members in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are joining together to reclaim the promise of public education. This important effort is co-sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association and is a vital step forward for our schools in South Florida.

Educators and community members are working to provide all students with the opportunity to attend quality public schools. Equal access to a public education is a right that should be afforded to all students. We cannot expect our students to succeed if they do not have the right tools to do so.

I worked as a teacher and lawyer for many years, so I know firsthand the obstacles teachers and students face every day. There is no simple solution for our public schools’ challenges, but one thing is for sure: We must all work together in order to better our schools. There is no time to wait because the future of schools and students are on the line. We must all get involved now.

Educators need proper teaching resources in order for students to achieve. Just like in other careers, they should receive ample opportunities for professional development.

South Florida teachers and support staff are doing the best they can, but we need everyone to actively participate in the educational process.

Florida receives the least amount of funding for public education compared to nearly all other states, but that will never stop our drive for success. We still have hope for our schools and students because the nation’s public education system makes up the foundation of our future.

Students will not learn more by being tested more. An overemphasis on standardized testing in our schools swallows up tremendous time and funding for important programs such as art, music, physical education, library multimedia and guidance counseling. While assessments are important, high-stakes testing should be eliminated because it takes away vital resources for increasing student achievement.

The initiative to reclaim the promise of public education was developed based on some fundamental principles that outline a vision of quality public schools for every student.

In our Title I schools, many students in grades K-3 are struggling, especially when it comes to reading. These students need their own “First Books” so that their literary skills can improve. Literacy is an essential part of achieving success. Without their own reading books at home, many students are put at a disadvantage in comparison to those who have regular access to books.

A recent study shows that in middle-income neighborhoods; the ratio of books to each child is 13 books per child. For children living in low income communities, the ratio is one book for every 300 children.

It is sad when our students go without the most vital tool for increasing achievement — their very own reading books.

Our ongoing effort is only one, albeit important, step toward addressing the challenges that our public schools face. Along with community members, we are committed to working collaboratively to achieve our vision for improving public education.

In order to see positive progress in our schools, there must be community-wide involvement. It is time for all of us to reclaim the promise of public education.

Sharon Glickman is the president of the Broward Teachers Union.

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