Despite much hue and cry from what must be a relatively small group of Americans, the U.S. Department of Education is moving on with a variety of policies that will undermine the institution of public education. Do Americans really value public education?
Citizens Advocates for Public Education (CAPE) is an organization of teachers, learners, parents, and grandparents who care deeply about the fate of public education, its sacred duty, and its boundless potential to endow every child living in America with opportunity. We welcome you to our site and invite you to be become participants and activists in reshaping the trajectory and impact of public education.
Historically our system of public education has anchored our democracy with the goal of providing broad and generous opportunities for all citizens. Our own years of experience in a variety of educational settings and our current observations tell us public education is in real trouble, however. While many citizens continue to support public education in their own communities, too many have given up on public education’s power to lift all learners in every community.
Rusting bridges and eroding beaches provide powerful metaphors for public education. Failure to support public education is as dangerous as the failure to repair deteriorating highway bridges. As natural forces are eroding beaches, often unnoticed, benign neglect and clandestine forces are eroding public education. This puts our democratic system and our well-being as a nation at risk.
As citizen advocates, we defend the concept of public education as envisioned by the nation’s founders. At the same time, we also seek the transformations that will improve and advance learning so that all students develop their full potential and thrive in a future of rapid and unpredictable changes.
Our work must go beyond “repairing” public education, which can at best restore it to an outmoded 20th century ideal of cheap mass-produced outputs. We need a new vision of public education that fits the current and future needs of our country. This vision should honor public education’s historic contributions while pointing to dramatic changes that are imperative.
We invite you to read our vision of public education and the set of the accompanying principles that show key systemic changes we believe must occur. We urge you use our work to start conversations about the future of public education with us on this website and with fellow citizens in your community. Public officials must hear your voices and understand how invested their constituents are in public education as a sustaining and enriching force in our democracy. If citizens insist that all decisions regarding public education be made with a shared vision and a set of guiding principles for change, public education will at last have the strength to fully serve children, parents, teachers, communities, and our nation.