If we want our children to achieve, we can’t just leave it to our schools.  We, each and every one of us, have to find a way to help the children. And here’s a way to begin. Plan to join PEF’s Leadership Conversation on October 2 at Passaic County Community College. Our theme this year is Building Brighter Futures.  You may recognize “Brighter Futures” as the Paterson Public Schools strategic plan introduced by Dr. Evans at PEF’s Leadership Conversation last year. We’ll look to see what progress we made over last year and what’s ahead for this year.

And we’ll get a big boost of energy from our guest speaker, Kati Haycock of Education Trust. Kati and the Education Trust have been relentless champions of children’s right to challenging work. They have documented the effects of good teaching on chidren’s progress. They have found schools just like ours that are moving the children to excellence. Kati is going to show us how Paterson measures up. It won’t be very pretty, but it sure will be motivating.

Dr. Evans keeps talking to the Paterson Public School staff about ‘rigor.’ He means providing ALL our childen with challenging work.  We can’t keep using the excuse that the children are poor, or speak another language or have neglectful parents as a reason not teach them. It is exactly BECAUSE they are poor, or speak another language or have neglectful parents that we must teach them.

There are so many people in Paterson’s leadership today who were poor or spoke another language or had neglectful parents. They rose and lead us now. As advocates for the children, as leaders in our community and caring families, we need to raise our children up and push them to challenge themselves.  We need to confront the people who would use the same old excuses to explain away why Paterson has 4 of the lowest performing schools in the State of New Jersey.  Paterson children can achieve, ALL of them. Whether our children will achieve depends a lot on how we work together to support them.

In Thursday’s blog post, I’ll share more about the conference sessions.  But for now, think about this: Are Paterson children less able than children in Newark? or Union City?  or Wayne? or Ridgewood? What are you willing to do to close the gap?