In the 19th century, the United States became the first country to offer free public education to its citizens. In the 20th century, we dreamed of offering universal public education to all our citizens; and we moved from a high school graduation rate of under 10% at the turn of the century to close to 80% graduation rate in the later part of the century. This average included lower graduation rates in poor urban and rural areas, but that does not gainsay the tremendous increase in access to an education we provided, unmatched during most of that century anywhere in the world.
Now in the 21st century we can dream realistically of becoming the first and only country with a truly heterogeneous population to offer all our children academic proficiency, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Unfortunately, we are far from that goal. However, we are well positioned to reach it because we have the knowledge, plus pressure from international competition, and the moral imperative of the promise of our democracy, which is to offer anyone a fair chance at a good life regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
By sharing what I have learned and know about education from more than 40 years of teaching and working with schools and districts, my hope is that readers will find the information and advice here helpful to their efforts to improve education for all students.