What's the Big Idea?
John H. Jackson, President & CEO, The Schott Foundation for Public Education
Sounding more like a measured politician than ever, President Donald Trump’s first Joint Address to Congress Tuesday night outlined the broad contours of his vision for a “Renewal of the American Spirit” while also challenging the nation to think big. While we accept the challenge to think big, as a philanthropic organization we are well aware that making big ideas successful requires clarity, consistency, and in most cases, big investments.
As such, while we broadly agree with the values of opportunity and progress for all Americans, we remain in a posture of supporting communities to move aggressively toward ensuring that those promises of opportunity and progress move from a teleprompted speech to actual positive outcomes for those who President Trump often identifies as victims. Simply stated, we agree with the big goal of extending opportunity to the poor and working class, but find that it remains necessary to outline the big ideas that will actually allow our nation, states and localities to substantively achieve the goal.
Similar to previous administrations, President Trump reaffirmed education as the “civil rights issue of our times,” and we agree. He introduced the nation to Denisha Merriweather, a proud young woman who will soon obtain her graduate degree and is the first in her family to complete college. After struggling academically in elementary school, Denisha obtained a tax-credit scholarship to attend private school, which she credits for her success. While we applaud Denisha’s unique journey and determination to overcome the odds, we also recognize that public schools have produced far more Denishas than any other educational option. Scores of our nation’s African American and Latino CEOs, philanthropists, college and university presidents, public servants and foremost leaders in the arts and sciences—and millions of everyday working people—count themselves among that number. This is why parents from Massachusetts to California and stops in between consistently What's the Big Idea? | Schott Foundation for Public Education: