With the White House pushing its Race to the Top initiative, and Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman" sparking a national conversation about both the problems plaguing America's schools and the innovative solutions being proposed and implemented all across the country, America is having an Education Moment.
This spring, as I was delving into America's troubled education system for my book (nothing is quickening our slide into Third World status faster than our resounding failure to properly educate our children), Davis Guggenheim gave me an early look at his film. I was deeply moved and saw that by personalizing the crisis (and being willing to point fingers and name names), Superman was going to get people talking. And thinking. And, hopefully, working -- finally -- to reform the broken system.
We wanted to be part of that discussion, and began working on creating a new section devoted to the issue. The result, HuffPost Education, launches today.
Developed in conjunction with the impassioned team at Causecast (our partners on HuffPost Impact), HuffPost Education is being edited by Brian Sirgutz, who has given heart and soul to its creation. And we are delighted that Paramount Pictures, which is releasing Waiting for "Superman", has signed on as its inaugural sponsor. HuffPost Education is designed to be a hub for education news and trends -- and will be home to a spirited, ongoing conversation about what's gone wrong with America's schools, and what needs to be done to fix them. We'll have topical takes from an eclectic mix of stakeholders in the education debate. Among those already lined up to weigh in: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Davis Guggenheim, Bill and Melinda Gates, John Legend, New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Geoffrey Canada, whose inspiring work at the Harlem Children Zone is featured in Waiting for "Superman".
The section will also celebrate the many teachers who, despite a broken system, are doing heroic work in the classroom day in and day out. We're kicking things off with a weeklong Great Teachers series that turns the spotlight on the personal success stories of some of these exceptional teachers and on the innovative ways they are helping children to learn. We also look forward to providing a real-time platform for teachers and parents to discuss the many issues impacting their lives and efforts to educate our kids.
Education has always been the great equalizer in America. The path to success. The springboard to the middle class -- and beyond. It was a promise we made to our people. A birthright we bestowed on each generation: the chance to learn, to improve their minds, and, as a result, their lives. But something has gone terribly wrong with our education system, and this failure has profound consequences for our nation's future -- both at home and as we look to compete with the rest of the world in the global economy.
Decade after decade, as predictably as a school bell, every election season candidates promise to transform our schools -- and, just as predictably, they fail to do so. And this failure cuts across party lines. Instead of fundamental reform, we get grandstanding and broken promises and reform in name only.
As a nation, we've slowly grown accustomed to our educational system's persistent failures, content to point out the occasional jewel spotted amid the dung: a marvelous charter school here, a high-performing inner-city academy there. We've allowed that old Washington motto to carry the day: "If it's broke, don't fix it."
We have to interrupt this pattern. We have to make it easier for creativity and fresh thinking to flourish in our classrooms. We need to start looking at things in bold and different ways.
What Abraham Lincoln said in his second annual address to Congress in 1862 applies powerfully to today's educational crisis: "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present... As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew."
And when it comes to saving our children -- and our future -- there is not a moment to waste. Our nation's education crisis demands "the fierce urgency of now."
That urgency, and the opportunity presented by America's Education Moment, are what animate HuffPost Education.
Check it out. And let us know what you think -- especially you, teachers, parents, and students. We want to hear from you.
We'd also love for you to join us in celebrating exceptional teachers by tweeting or posting on your Facebook wall the name of a teacher who made a difference in your life with the hashtag #myfavoriteteacher.
P.S.: As promised, HuffPost is providing round-trip transportation from New York to Washington for all those who need a ride to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday, October 30th in D.C. Click here to officially sign up for a seat on the HuffPost Sanity Bus -- join the caravan!
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