The Great Equalizer

Education is often referred to as the great equalizer. While it is the mechanism that ideally create an equal playing field for all students in the United States, it is also connects students in America to students all over the world. Intersession 2013 offered an opportunity to understand education reform from the southern hemisphere and explore the idea of equalizing educational experiences.  LEAD 579: International Education and School Change took me to Santiago, Chile where it became clear very quickly that the challenges our students face in the US are incredibly similar to those that students face over 4,000 miles away in Chile. Throughout the course of nine days in Santiago and three days at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement conference, issues around diversity, innovation, accountability, capacity, and quality were surfaced.  In conversing with researchers, educators, and reformers from Europe, Canada, and South America, it appeared as though the challenges within education reform are becoming the great equalizer, as it is the one element almost all education systems have in common.  The opportunity to improve public education for students is what we all now share.
As we continued to explore Chile and the manner in which the people, culture, and history are embedded within the reform movement, I stopped seeing education as something to accomplish and as an experience to be transported with me.  In visiting Pablo Neruda’s home, Isla Negra, imagery connecting to the sea stood out as a metaphor for education.  Pablo Neruda loved the sea and all that it contained and offered. He treasured artifacts from ships, shells, and boats, but he never actually sailed.  Standing in front of an anchor on his property, I realized we are all seeking an ideal state of education where quality schools serve the potential of each student much like Neruda sought out the ocean. The change required is vast and overwhelming. While this is a desire we share with the rest of the world, we may not have the right materials and strategy on the appropriate ship.  Education is not intended to be a stagnant and fixed tool for students. Much like an anchor, it is intended to provide a foundation for individuals to grow from and also be a tool that is carried with them throughout their lives.
Education reform is a movement that has the potential to unite students all over the world, as one individual in the ocean of change cannot achieve it alone. Santiago, Chile 2013 was an experience shared by many, and proof that we are all sharing the same future for our students.

Mosaic of our trip to Chile

Mosaic of our trip to Chile

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