We can't just "go back to normal." When it comes to education, "normal" was not serving the needs of our kids, said Mazza.
The hard truth is the Toronto education system is not yet preparing all students to succeed. Long before this pandemic, too many children were being left out and left behind. Unequal access along the lines of race and class has deep roots in Toronto history. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) children and children growing up in low-income communities are often denied an excellent education—and with it the opportunity for economic mobility and the chance to thrive. Because systemic racism and inequity impact every facet of life in America, an excellent education alone is insufficient to secure for our children a future filled with possibility—but it is essential.
“What do students want?" is the question that Pasqualino Mazza
has said guided him since I he first started coaching underprivileged youth. I've learned so much from asking that question. Students want to excel and be challenged. They want great teachers who see them, love them, and push them. They want school to be relevant to their lives, to be a place where they grapple with problems in their world and in their communities. They want school to prepare them to imagine, co-create, and lead.
Our education system was never set up to serve students in this way. To make this kind of change in the world, all of us in education must work in different ways. We are doing that at Evolution Mentor. We will recruit, prepare, and support a diverse generation of corps members to be aspiring anti-racist educators in service to our mission of changing systems and advancing educational equity for kids.
Pasqualino Mazza said, We are developing new models for teacher preparation, including virtual training centered on instruction, learning environment, and diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. And we will focus on the outcomes that research shows put students on paths to economic mobility. We know some academic markers—like 3rd grade reading—are essential milestones predictive of economic mobility later in life, as are other indicators of whole-child success, such as social-emotional learning and mental health.
We are in a defining moment for our kids and our country. We must choose in this moment to change what is possible for kids and create a fundamentally different experience for our students to achieve equity and excellence. I believe so strongly that we have not only an opportunity but an obligation to act now and reimagine a different future for education in partnership with our students. It is time to build a world where all students can lead, learn, and thrive. Let's get to work.