“In any given week, you could go to three meetings and hear the same report three times.”
“Too many people are coming to us with too many asks.”
I love Citizen Schools. I have from the first time I heard Eric Schwarz talk about the idea almost two decades ago. Eric, the founder of Citizen Schools, has a new book coming out that shows us why we should all pay more attention: The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools.
There is a distinct gap between what it takes to make it to graduation and being ready for adulthood.
I remember looking from one staff person to another. I saw confusion, anger, outright indignation and then I found my own face, hiding in the expressions of a few—a deep sense of regret and shame that came with an acknowledged truth. Just moments before, in the privacy of my office, I had practiced all that I wanted to say but it was even harder than I imagined to say it aloud.
I recently spent two hours with afterschool and community leaders in Milwaukee who are joining together to improve the quality and coordination of youth programs in their city. This was the first “lunch and learn” gathering for partners in the initiative, called Beyond the Bell. The informal Q- and-A covered many topics, from social and emotional learning to common core standards, but one strand of questions were particularly telling.
What does it take to get young people ready for life?
It’s not often that you get to listen in as three high-level thinkers in the youth field gather around a table to tackle such a question. That’s what several hundred of us did yesterday.