Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Visualizing our goals for tutoring/mentoring, violence prevention, education, etc.

I received an email today from a friend at UCLA. In part it read, "A central concern of school improvement efforts is to enable all
students to have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. A key
facet of this not only involves engaging students but also
re-engaging those who have actively disengaged from learning what
schools are trying to teach them.

And, it should be clear to everyone that schools experiencing the
most problems are the ones most in need of a school improvement
process that not only directly improves instruction, but also
includes strategies for developing a comprehensive system of
student/learning supports.

At this time, every indication is that these matters continue to be
marginalized in discussions of school improvement, in general, and
the reauthorization of the Elementary and Education Act, in particular.

It is clear that the many specific agenda items currently competing
for sparse resources tend to maintain the unsatisfactory status quo
that characterizes the nation's efforts to address major barriers to
learning, development, and teaching.

Thus, for many of us, the critical question at this juncture is how
to coalesce strategically around a unifying concept so that our
combined efforts can break through the policy barrier that is
preventing an appropriate exploration of what must happen so that all
students truly have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. We
know, however, that developing the desired coalition requires setting
aside competing agenda, and this may prove undoable. "

On the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site I've used maps and charts to illustrate how we need to focus on all of the high poverty neighborhoods where kids need extra help in order to succeed in school and live free of poverty.

Today, I listened to a presentation by the rock star BONO, as he called for 1 million activist to get involved in creating social justice for people living in Africa. Imagine if he were using maps like those I'm trying to create, to draw people who could help to all of the places where help is needed, and will be needed for the next 20 or more years.

My friend at UCLA, BONO and the T/MC all have the same challenge. We need to get millions of people to look at our maps, read the information we provide on our web sites, and then act in one way or another, over-and-over, for many years, and in many places at the same time.

Even with all of the power and celebrity that BONO has, he is asking for help. Even with all of the resources at UCLA, my friend is asking for help. I don't have nearly as much power or wealth as either of these leaders, yet I'm asking for the same type of help, and so are the thousand of people working in isolation and obscurity in high poverty neighborhoods around the world.

There are many entry points to getting involved, (such as the May 29 and 30 conference in Chicago), and individual calls to action can each attract some people to some of these places. However, until we connect these entry points, and tie them to maps, we'll never get enough people, looking at all of the places where help is needed, nor staying involved as long as they need to be involved.

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