Friday, January 22, 2010

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Given that this past Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and from all the scenes we have seen in the wake of the tragedy in Haiti, I think it is worth mentioning some thoughts around the Alliance’s programs in the context of social justice and equity. All of our programs, whether it be continuing our work in community schools and community engagement, increasing college access and readiness for all students, ensuring the quality of all teachers in Seattle Public Schools, or our educational investments, have a significant impact on those students that are economically and socially disadvantaged. In much of our work, and in many of the grants we manage, our target population includes students of color and low-income communities.

We at the Alliance believe education is a fundamental right for each child in our community. At our recent Board meeting this past Tuesday, Dr. Goodloe- Johnson and Seattle Board President Michael Debell talked about the school district’s and state’s significant budget shortfall in light of the grim economic landscape we face. It is no secret that we are in tough financial times, but those who bear the worst of the impact will not have the necessary resources or skills to compete in our new economic landscape.

That is why the Alliance and the entire community need to redouble our efforts to help the school district adequately serve these communities. Whether it is providing more resources to counselors to help students get into college, or continuing a much needed discussion on teacher quality, or helping raising more money for the District so that it will ease some of the painful cuts they have to make; these efforts will go a long way in helping students excel toward a pathway of opportunity.

As Dr. King said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” Isn’t that the type of education we would like to impart on all children in the District?

- Mark Yango, AFE

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