James Meredith asks 21 tough questions about school reform | The Answer Sheet | The Washington Post

by James Meredith; posted by Valerie Strauss –

I am delighted to publish the following original piece by civil rights icon James Meredith, who offers 21 questions every American should ask of their politicians, educators and school reformers.

In August 1963, Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi as its first black graduate after engineering an epic civil rights victory involving the Supreme Court, the president of the United States, the state government of Mississippi, and 30,000 U.S. combat troops. In 1966, he was shot while leading the March Against Fear, which helped open the gates of voter registration to thousands of black citizens in the South. Two years later, he earned a law degree from Columbia University. Last month, he was awarded the Medal for Educational Impact from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, the school’s highest honor.

Meredith’s latest book is “A Mission from God: A Memoir and a Challenge for America,” written with William Doyle, who wrote this piece with him.

By James Meredith with William Doyle

In my recent book “A Mission from God,” I asked a panel of over 100 leading figures in education for their opinions on how to improve our nation’s public education system, especially our K-8 schools.

Last month, I addressed the graduating students of the Harvard Graduate School of Education at their convocation, and challenged them to help improve our public schools.

Now I am challenging all American parents and taxpayers to ask hard questions of our politicians, candidates, educators, school boards, teachers unions and education reformers, so we as a nation can debate and adopt the best evidence-based practices to improve public education for all our children.

I do not endorse specific policy proposals. I have no ties to any education venture, teachers union, advocacy group, or school, other than being the grandfather of three girls who attend the public schools in Jackson, Mississippi, and being a proud alumni of the University of Mississippi and the Columbia University Law School.

What I do endorse is a vigorous, evidence-based discussion by all Americans on how we can improve our public schools, and I challenge all Americans to help the public schools in their neighborhoods, especially those with disadvantaged students.

Here is a list of questions I am asking of educators and education experts around the United States, questions I have gathered and synthesized from teachers, parents, experts and a wide range of citizens.

My co-author William Doyle will post excerpts of their responses on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jamesmeredithusa

I urge all Americans to ask these 21 questions, and many more of their own questions, of our local and national political, educational and opinion leaders, and to also post the best answers they get on my Facebook page:

Click here to read the entire post and the comments via James Meredith asks 21 tough questions about school reform.