Education Activist, Chris Stewart Publishes Blockbuster Report on the State of Public Education in Americaby GDN Shared Post March 23, 2020
Parent Empowerment Education Activist, Chris Stewart Publishes Blockbuster Report on the State of Public Education in America
In many of America’s wealthiest and most progressive cities, the current public education system still places our most vulnerable children at a disadvantage from the start, robbing them of a fair shot at sharing in their city’s prosperity or contributing to it as adults. That divide will only be more illuminated as schools continue to shut down nationwide due to the Coronavirus.
If you ask Chris Stewart how he’s gained such a powerful voice fighting for the educational opportunities of all children, he’ll say it’s because 29 years ago when he had his first child, he became a parent with a problem. Back then, he didn’t have a great education himself and he didn’t have many resources. But he had a kid that he loved, and like many parents, he was determined to give him a better life than what he had.
So, he fought to have a voice and to find the best learning opportunities for his first-born child, and all his kids. Today, he stands beside millions of families fighting for the same thing for their kids.
According to Stewart’s The Secret Shame 2020 Education Report, we have kids living on the margins, who will never be able to participate or experience the opportunities available in our great cities because of the pervasive educational inequities that local decision-makers have allowed. Stewart believes that closing opportunity gaps is the only way to address systemic inequities in our community. The report highlights municipalities that have significant achievement gaps between students of color regardless of economic factors with other cities that have essentially eliminated the achievement gap.
Stewart’s organization, Brightbeam, believes federal, state and local governments must work with families and communities to set an education agenda that can be measured and monitored for progress over time. Parents must call on political leaders to enact policies that seek to achieve education goals.
Crisis can illuminate strength or weakness and we are in a moment now where it isn’t going to be about what schools can offer, now more than ever the Coronavirus is a reminder of how involved parents need to be in their children’s education. The amount of school shutdowns which experts expect to increase will force parents to increase their engagement as no parent will have the luxury of being a passive participant in their child’s education. Once things turn back to normal Stewart hopes this experience will reinvigorate parents and lead the country to realize every child, regardless of race, income status or zip code, deserves access to great learning opportunities, and families have the power to demand change when the status quo has failed to deliver results. Despite the startling opportunity gaps that exist in progressive cities across the country, outliers exist – kids are receiving education opportunities that allow them to succeed despite the odds that are stacked against them. Stewart advocates parent participation in order to get test scores and the quality of public education to go up.
Chris Stewart is available for interviews to discuss his report, share strategies related to parents responding to the Coronavirus shutdown and the steps parents need to take in order to improve the quality of the education of their children. Here is a link to the full report: https://brightbeamnetwork.org/cities/.
Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Brightbeam. His organization has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Walton Family Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was named CEO of Brightbeam in April 2019, after formerly serving as chief executive of Wayfinder Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. In the past, Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Brightbeam, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education where he was provoked by witnessing the many systemic inequities that hold our children back.
In August 2017, Chris came together with more than 40 other African American parents, students and teachers to talk about the Black experience in America’s public schools. These conversations were released as a video series in Getting Real About Education: A Conversation With Black Parents, Teachers and Students.
Chris serves as chair of the board of SFER’s Action Network and serves on the board of Ed Navigators. He blogs and tweets under the name Citizen Stewart and is based in the Minneapolis area.
To learn more about Chris visit his blog: https://educationpost.org/network/chris-stewart/.