TR: Do you have your own opinion on what the “right thing” is when it comes to education policy?
JL: When it comes to education policy, I have very specific things I agree with and don’t agree with. Moreso, it’s this principle that I think we should all operate by. First, that ever kid has the ability to learn, and we should shape public policy with that in mind. Some have more challenges than others, but a lot of time our public policy gives up on kids before they get a shot. If we start with high expectations, our kids can succeed, if our resources are allocated accordingly.
Then, the more you get into the details of how schools are run and how teachers are hired and fired, you realize there are some other policies that we need to make sure in place. That we have a policy structure that says every kid deserves a quality teacher in their classroom — someone who is effective, someone who will move the class forward. That requires some changes in the way the bureaucracy works right now. I think we need to make sure we’re paying attention to quality when it comes to teaching, because it’s such an important factor in whether kids succeed … We also need the right training resources to make quality teaching even better.
Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root’s staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.