Statement by The Education Trust on President Obama’s Speech at the National Urban League Conference

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WASHINGTON (July 29, 2010) – President Obama captured the essence of what’s at stake for our country when he said earlier today, during a speech at the National Urban League’s annual convention, “If we want success for our country, we can’t accept failure in our schools.”

As a nation, we can no longer accept schools in impoverished communities that fail their students year after year, when we know that no middle-class neighborhood would ever tolerate it.

We can no longer accept evaluation systems that deem virtually every teacher in a school to be excellent, while half of our black and Hispanic fourth graders possess reading skills that are below basic.

And we can no longer accept tired, old excuses about why we can’t make things better and expect more from our schools.

Today, the President made clear that his Administration stands firmly on the side of students, especially our most vulnerable students. There should be no confusion about what is at stake. Generations of students have been failed by our school systems—as they waited for adults to get comfortable with change—and our kids can’t wait any longer.

That is the premise of the Race to the Top. The great promise of this competitive grant program is its ability to drive meaningful, powerful improvements to boost student learning. Catalyzing sweeping policy changes from Connecticut to California, Race to the Top has led state after state to commit to the hard work necessary to ensure that all children get the kind of world-class education they need and deserve.

The President is right: The status quo isn’t working for any of our students. We have to do better. We have to change our education system so that gaps in achievement and opportunity no longer exist and so that all students aim high. The Education Trust applauds the Administration for its unwavering commitment to these twin goals.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.