We are XQ and we believe it’s time to rethink high school.
That an America that squanders the talents of even a single child is not the America we want to be. Every single one of our young people—regardless of race, creed, gender or gender identity, native language, country of birth, sexual orientation or disability—deserves a high school that will find and nurture the special genius within, preparing them not for the jobs of the past but for life in the fast-changing world they will inhabit in the future.
That the current rules governing our high schools—including the red tape that stifles the creativity of our best educators—need to be re-examined and replaced. Instead of seat time, learning must be at the center and the walls separating schools from learning opportunities in the surrounding community taken down. Young people who learn to apply their knowledge to solving community problems will grow into problem solving adults.
That the practice of sorting students into “college-bound” and “work-bound” tracks—with those considered “work-bound” getting a less demanding education– needs to be stopped right now. As employers have been saying for some time, in this economy “career ready means college ready plus.”
That the “basics” need to be redefined to include not just math, science, English and history but also the arts, music, physical education, world languages and technology. Each one plays an important role in developing the capacity and creativity of young Americans to create a future better than the present, and to tackle the challenges that lie in between.
That the home languages of many of our students need to be viewed not as a liability but as a rich national resource in an all-out, full-speed- ahead effort to assure that America’s high school graduates master a second language. For too long, our nation has lagged embarrassingly behind the global community in producing multilingual graduates.
That resources matter. Instead of continuing to spend less on students with the greatest needs, we must spend more. And every child, rather than just some, deserves a team of teachers who believe in their infinite capacity and are deeply knowledgeable about their fields.
That quality education develops not just the minds, but also the character, work habits, mental and physical health of our young people. If we want young people to be active and independent as adults, our schools must listen to their voices, educate the whole child, challenge them with regular opportunities for discussion and critical thinking, and foster increasing independence. They must also be safe from threats to physical or emotional well-being.
That it is time to stop putting the entire burden of improving our schools on the educators who work in them. It is time to break down the walls between classrooms and communities, schools and universities, educators and employers to connect classroom learning to America and world outside. Transforming our high schools to meet the needs of the 21st Century is a job for all of us, and we’re in—for the long haul.