Fairness in education is a federal initiative that all of us, albeit 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, can and must support, although it goes far beyond “charter schools” or “closing the gap,” which are political buzz words that far oversimplify the vast transformation that must occur: I want the clout of the federal dollar to go toward equalizing expenditures for education in ALL states, not just the half of our states that have such legislation now. That means such radical measures as allowing NO more federal aid to any state that refuses to enact such funding provisions. I want federal policy to reward innovation, community connections, creative teaching and thinking, and to promote downsizing the education bureaucracy in each state and each district. I want the Department of Education to embrace brain research that shows us clearly that students and teachers need to build webs of meaning–not fill in bubbles based on discrete factoids. That is the kind of fairness in teaching and learning that will enhance the lives of all of our kids. It is not fair that only our left-brain, sequential learners are succeeding now, and that those who learn in different and even more talented ways, some 60% of our students, never have their needs met. I want federal policy that mandates and awards funding to states that provide the tools of technology to every child and every community, and I want federal dollars to go to states that provide innovative training and support to transform their schools into 21st century centers of learning. We must make a quantum leap that brings all of our kids–and their parents and teachers–up to speed with the power and creativity of the Web, not only those in privileged neighborhoods, magnet schools, charter schools, private schools, or any of the other thousand means by which we shirk our responsibility to EVERY child in America. More than anything, I want a Department of Education that LEADS the way in progressive thinking about education, despite its own bureaucracy, which also needs to be downsized, because that is the direction the American people voted to support when the call for CHANGE echoed through the land. The world and the Web are spinning too fast to imagine that we can continue limiting American students to the tyranny of narrow curricula called to simple-minded account by even narrower “standardized tests.” Not only a revolution but a RENAISSANCE of learning must occur to ensure fairness to all of our students. A new constitutional amendment, making equal opportunity to learn a student right or even a human right, will do no more than Brown v. Board of Education in creating that reality. It’s time to demand action on what we already know about high-quality education for EVERY child. Patricia Kokinos, www.ChangeTheSchools.com

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