Anyone paying close attention to the field of education and philanthropy’s role in it has noticed a shift in focus over the past several years – a shift I think signals real opportunity for young people.
The latest report from Grantmakers for Education, Trends in Education Philanthropy, sheds light on where these shifts have been concentrated over the past decade, which to my mind reflects that the field of philanthropy is learning from mistakes and doing a better job of listening to communities.
We all need a great education, but only some of us get it. As Americans, we love to talk about education as the surest way to advance opportunity – particularly if you weren’t born into wealth. However, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the disparate outcomes the United States education system perpetuates.
Across the country our partners are doing incredible work to research and reimagine American classrooms. The end goal, designing classrooms and schools where every student receives an equitable education, sounds deceptively simple, but it has eluded teachers, school leaders and policymakers for decades.
One key finding from this research is that young people need to feel like they are valued and respected in school—like they are vital members of the community, their intersectional identities welcome.
Put another way: In an equitable classroom, every student feels like they belong.
We’ve all been reading the heart-wrenching stories of families being torn apart by the aggressive deportation policies of the Trump Administration and the ongoing saga of what will happen to the “Dreamers”—the undocumented young people brought to the United States as children. Protected for now under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Dreamers’ futures remain uncertain under a president who treats the program like a political football. Meanwhile Congress has failed to step in with legislation to permanently protect the Dreamers.
Dreamers are cherished members of our communities, and there are more reasons than I can count for why they deserve to remain in the U.S.—the only home they’ve ever known. But as an educator, I often think about the ripple effects this toxic debate will have on our students and our teachers.