President George W. Bush was sitting in a grade-school classroom to underscore his education agenda, when the world shuddered violently. In an instant on Sept. 11, the country’s focus shifted from school improvement to overwhelming issues of life and death, war and peace. For now, nothing else seems to matter.
It is no disrespect to the thousands of people murdered in New York City, suburban Washington D.C. and rural Pennsylvania for us to acknowledge and be angry about the collateral damage on school reform. For the cause must go on, not simply because that’s the way life is but because the cause is essential for upholding this country’s professed ideals. Democracy can’t work without an educated public. There can be no freedom and justice for all when tolerance isn’t taught. Equal opportunity can’t exist when the quality of schooling is colored coded. As the President declares war on terrorists who find these ideals anathema, the rest of us must recommit to making them real in our communities.
Pitching in with time, talent or treasure, countless individuals have reached out of their personal orbits to help save lives and comfort victims of the terrorist attacks. They have set a standard that school reformers can mirror by moving beyond the self-centered, sometimes petty politics and jealousies that stall progress.
Shocked by the death and destruction of Sept. 11, families everywhere have paused to get back in touch, to let each other know that they are loved. School reformers can spread this sense of appreciation by letting good teachers know how much they are valued. Teachers are truly the bedrock of this society. In concert with parents—and sometimes alone—they are responsible for inculcating the skills needed for personal success and a healthy society, for instilling an enthusiasm for learning, for spreading the knowledge about peoples and cultures that is increasingly needed in this interconnected, troubled world.
ABOUT US The Catalyst Editorial Board has chosen Carolyn Nordstrom, president of Chicago United, as its chair for the current school year, and G. Marie Leaner, past executive director of Communities in Schools, as its vice chair. Joan Forte, principal of Randolph Magnet School, fills the vacancy left by Barbara Eason-Watkins when she was promoted from principal of McCosh Elementary School to CPS chief education officer.
We also are pleased to announce that Irasema Salinas, lead researcher on the Catalyst Yellow Pages, will continue with us as office and circulation coordinator. Ericka Moore-Freeman will step up to marketing director and web site assistant.
We have extended the deadline for ordering additional print issues of the Catalyst Yellow Pages to Oct. 30. The cost is $25. Order forms may be downloaded from the Catalyst web site—
www.catalyst-chicago.org ; phone orders are being accepted at (312) 673-3866.
We also announce our first price increase in over a decade. Subscriptions for organizations now cost $30 for one year or $50 for two years. Subscriptions for individuals cost $23 for one year or $40 for two. Local school council members will continue to receive Catalyst free of charge.