||Public Support for High Performance. What we are proposing is unique in two ways. We are putting in motion a process that will yield new, world-class standards; new assessment systems; management techniques and systems that are rare in corporate America and almost non-existent in education America; curriculum and technology that will make our classrooms look quite unlike any that we went to school in, and so on. Then we are proposing to put all those parts together, to create the pedagogical analog to a chemical reaction which yields a product wholly different from any of its parts. To provoke and sustain this change will require a measure of public support and understanding that does not presently exist.
Most people think schools are in bad shape but not their own school; most people believe someone's child needs to know math and science but not their own since they do not and have gotten along just fine; few people believe that all kids can learn. Most Americans have a vision of good schooling that corresponds to what they experienced themselves and would be satisfied with that. If we are to succeed in radically transforming schools, we must alter attitudes outside the schoolhouse door.
Our design problem is to identify those strategies that will foster sustained public support for world-class student performance standards and the revolutionary changes in
policy and practice that will be needed to meet them. To accomplish this, we will put together a comprehensive package that includes all the techniques of the modern media strategist as well as the proven methods of community organizing. We intend to build on very effective strategies developed by some of our state Partners and to bring in other partners who have established national reputations for effective work in this arena.
Vermont's strategies for grassroots public engagement have attracted national attention. The state has, for example, initiated School Report Nights as an expected feature of local town meetings. Their statewide plan of action, A Green Mountain Challenge: Very High Skills for Every Student; No Exceptions, No Excuses, was developed through the active participation of hundreds of citizens. New York's plan, A New Compact for Learning, was developed in response to open hearings held all over the state. In Kentucky, there are a number of public engagement efforts underway including the Kentucky Partnership, which is comprised of nearly sixty members led by The Business Roundtable companies. The Partnership has launched a statewide $1.3 million media campaign in support of a reform agenda virtually identical to ours. The Prichard Committee, a statewide citizens group, has launched a community organizing effort in 50 school districts in support of the same agenda.
Another of our Partners, The Public Agenda Foundation, will conduct campaigns in several of our states and districts to help citizens better understand the connections between education and America's ability to be globally competitive. Public Agenda has already been successful in designing and orchestrating citizen education campaigns for five American communities in the past year. It will work with our Partner sites to bring leaders from all parts of these communities into a planning process that will also include the active participation of the local media. Six-week media campaigns that include daily newspaper and prime time television coverage on many aspects of education will be launched by media partners recruited by Public Agenda. Town meetings are an integral component of the campaigns for increasing public discussion and the focus of daily news coverage for the media.
Public support will come only with real public involvement, in schools, neighborhoods and communities. Parents must have an expanded role in school decision making. They must see themselves as collaborators in their children's education. But more than parents must be involved. The Industrial Areas Foundation, perhaps the most experienced agency in the United States in the arena of community organizing, will help us think through the parent engagement and organizing issues.