The State of Education

This year’s State of the Union Address was unlike any I had ever experienced before.  I had just sat down in a room full of educators when I heard the word “teacher” come out of the President’s mouth, and to be precise, it was the fifth word. We were astounded. Then when he talked about other education issues–high school redesign, high quality preschool, connecting students to the best technology, making college more affordable and accessible, and high school graduation rates—we cheered, gave each other high-fives and knew that the President was with us.

While each topic resonated on a personal level with at least one educator or another in the room, for me, something bigger stood out…a call for equity.

As the President pointed out, it is 2014 and women are still paid less than their counterparts.  This is hard for me to believe.  I am a woman who happens to be a teacher, and who believes that being an educator is my civic duty and responsibility.  Furthermore, because I believe education and equity are symbiotic, education is the one platform that can help shape, inform and paint the equity landscape.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss his thoughts on the State of the Union, and he told me that during the speech he found himself thinking, “What’s a kid from the Southside of Chicago doing in this situation?”  It appeared that equity was indeed on all of our minds. 

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Emily Davis is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.


  1. One more time:

    Fixing education isn’t the key to fixing poverty.

    Fixing POVERTY is the key to fixing EDUCATION.

    We’ve TRIED fixing education and poverty is getting WORSE. We’ve tried imposing harsher and stricter reforms on education and poverty is getting WORSE. One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By this measure, the entire Education Reform Movement is clinically insane.

    Fix. Poverty.

    The sooner the better.

    It’s not rocket science, folks.

  2. Probably, the greatest moral tragedy of our age is the lack of political will in the entire US, whereas, the citizenry doesn’t deem the Reauthorization of
    the NCLB Act a national priority! How else can a bastion of democracy … remain free? If America is not allowed to equalize education for all of its children regardless
    of their family? More than a decade has passed since the enactment of Public Law 107-110 and still poor children don’t have the guarantees that a middle class youngster that they will graduate from high school and then be admitted to a first rate college or university. Billions have been expended and things are really not accountable in terms of poor parents being assured that everything is being done that’s possible in terms of their youngsters being able to get on track for upward mobility.

    The empowerment of poor parents must become a reality if there is every going to be a serious redesign of high school along with a radical reduction level of drop out rates. From the family home a movement needs to be crystallized as POWER (Parents Organized With Economic Resources) that can then extend onward to the neighborhood churches and make it a living reality that at least 45% of all 21st Century Community Learning Centers will be located in the neighborhood churches that are usually located across or down the street from an elementary, middle, or high school that are academic low performers.

    Lastly, this movement will come full circle when actual parents who still live in or have experienced poverty themselves will be able to sit on Boards of Trustees after gaining valuable experience by being former members of the School Site Councils and District Advisory Committees that are a necessary experiement of Title I, No Child Left behind Act, Public Law 107-110.

    PS Education reform has to be lived and not always talked about!

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