In the United States today public education is under intense scrutiny, both from reformers seeking to improve the quality of education provided by the system and from individuals and institutions raising fundamental questions as to the value of education as a public good. Efforts to stratify the public education system through creation of specialized programs and schools that purport to increase parental choice and student outcomes or by privatization mechanisms such as vouchers and corporate management of public schools, treat education not as a social good but as a commodity to be traded in the marketplace. As decades of failed education reform have shown, concentrating solely on improving the practice of education without paying attention to building the political will for change has undermined the success of even the best education reform initiatives. It seems clear that sustained, effective school reform requires external demand and the political will for change. Furthermore, quality education that results in equitable outcomes for lower income students of color will occur only when parents, students and community members are actively engaged with school administrators, educators, education officials and policy makers in reforming local schools and school systems. Guided by these beliefs, the goal of the Foundation's public education program is:
To foster effective schools for all children, and full partnership for parents and communities in school reform.
During the period 2005-2009, in an effort to build an organized, broad-based and powerful grassroots constituency capable of transforming low performing schools and school systems serving low income children and youth of color into places of learning and respect, Hazen will:
- Build the individual and collective capacity of education organizing groups to affect and sustain change in education policy and institutional practices that directly impact quality of education in low performing schools and school districts in targeted sites,
- Create linkages and promote greater collaboration between education organizing groups and their allies to foster development of a national movement and collective agenda for constituency-driven school reform rooted in the values of equity and accountability,
- Build the credibility and legitimacy of Education Organizing within philanthropy and the field of education as an essential strategy for education reform.
For more info. see the Grant Guidelines.