Today in America, and here in Northeast Ohio, the circumstances of your birth too often predict the opportunities you have in life. Children growing up in low-income neighborhoods – where in Cleveland more than half of all people under 18 live in poverty – experience vastly different academic outcomes than those growing up in more affluent neighborhoods. These systemic inequities disproportionately impact children of color, who are almost two times more likely to be born into poverty than white children. These minority students now make up half of all students in American public schools and bear the additional weight of historical and present-day racial bias and discrimination.
Arguably, our public education system is not equipped to empower children with the tools to overcome these barriers or to help them fulfill their potential to lead and shape our increasingly dynamic, interconnected world.
Public awareness of educational inequity has increased substantially, and there is growing dissatisfaction with a public education system that fails to meet the needs of students today or prepare them for what will be required in the future. Yet a divisive public debate on how to make change persists.