Van Jones, Big Cities -- and Equity

We had a chance to hear Van Jones speak today. We're happy for the opportunity, because whatever your politics might be, the man is funny. Sure, particularly funny to this crowd, mostly educators at the Council of the Great City Schools Conference -- a room full of urban educators -- but he offered enough self-mocking that even someone listening from the far-right side of the spectrum likely would chuckle.

He wasn't just funny, though: he spoke compellingly about the need for greater levels of equity in our education system -- about the need to end all the back-and-forth about charters, and vouchers, and reform, and to find ways to come together to ensure that all students, particularly those who may come to school hungry, or whose parents didn't attend college (or didn't grow up in this country), have an opportunity to receive an excellent education.

Who can be against that? 

For we don't offer all of our students, regardless of background or income level, a high-quality education just for them; we do it because that's our ticket to thriving as a nation. Our much greater problem than unemployment -- as our rate hovers just above 4%, close to statistically full employment -- is our ability to fill jobs that call for advanced skills and advanced levels of education. 

Our students just aren't leaving school, whether that's high school or college, ready to take on the jobs that our rapidly-evolving economy offers.

So Van Jones was right on in calling on educators to redouble their efforts to educate all children. And sitting in the audience, the Spotlight team determined that we would redouble ours as well. Through our technology, which enables parents to better understand how their kids are performing in school, and helps high school students figure out how to attain a higher level of aspiration after graduating, and points adult learners towards productive, rewarding careers -- with this technology, we can contribute to this effort to achieve equity in our educational system -- while never, ever lowering the bar.