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One Day, in November...

Building a Tribe of Changemakers in Education

· taking action,schools,changemakers

From the time they enter kindergarten until the time they finish high school, American children spend 14,000 compulsory hours in a classroom. Imagine if each graduate emerged as confident, curious, and self-aware as they were when they first started school. Imagine schools where learning is meaningful, relevant, and joyful; where parents can advocate for their children’s best interests; and where each child is recognized for their unique contributions. We want all schools to make learning relevant to each child’s interests and life experience.

Our nonprofit,, understands that schools are in a unique position to lead the way in building more equity in our society. School is where, beginning at age five, kids can first encounter the values of inclusivity, diversity and collaboration. School is where they can learn how to put those values into action and practice them out in the world as adults.

On November 5th, 2017 tapped into the energy, knowledge, experience and enthusiasm of a diverse group of educators, administrators and parents at our inaugural Changemakers Workshop. We called our gathering “Engaging Parents as Changemakers to Redefine the Purpose of School” and our aim was to identify, define and deliberate the challenges faced by K-12 education reform.

Our facilitation team, led by Andrea Saveri, futurist and principal at Saveri Consulting,'s Executive Director, Wendy Horng Brawer, and our talented graphic recorder Leslie Salmon-Zhu, helped distill the complexity of the discussion by making our thinking visual. These are the main concepts that emerged:

The prevailing 21st century drivers of change that impact education are:

  • Erosion of trust in the American institutions of government, healthcare and education

  • Social changes necessary to address needs of underserved communities and increasing diversity in the United States

  • Pressures and opportunities from globalization and urbanization

  • Deep progress in brain science and Social Emotional Intelligence teaching and learning

  • Accelerating reach of, and rapid changes in, technology

These drivers of change create pressure points in America's education system and heighten the need for reform. These pressure points include our group's desires to:

  • Ensure that any reform would be inclusive and reach each child, regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic class, geography, or learning differences

  • Include students' experience, ideas and opinions in decisions about their learning experiences

  • Prepare children to succeed in an increasingly complex world and being mindful of what the broadest definition of success can be

  • Acknowledge that change includes risk and is often perceived as difficult and fearful

  • Hire, train and retain excellent teachers

Parents are key to the reform process. We need to ask:

  • How to gain parents’ trust in reform by building in support for families?

  • How can parents engage if they lack resources for their family’s basic needs?

  • How to embolden parents to hold schools accountable?

  • How to address parents’ fears of abandoning the current model of education because it’s what they currently know?

  • How to encourage parents to rethink the definition of success for their kids?

  • How to design ways to be active in reform efforts that fit a range of parent needs and family situations?

In order to create lasting systemic change we need to:

  • Understand and address the bureaucratic roadblocks

  • Redefine what leadership means for administrators

  • Ask if the child is at the center of decision-making

  • Let go of the linear definition of success

  • Understand that we have transformed from an experience-rich/ information-poor culture to an information-rich,/experience-poor culture and how that impacts what kids need to learn in school

  • Remember that kids do well if they can

Our insights and opportunities are:

  • To ensure everyone involved in reform understands and is sensitive to the experience of all involved (administrators, parents, teachers, students)

  • To change the lens from “my” to “our”

  • To examine current structures for individual parent and community-wide engagement with educatioN —are they sufficient?

  • Provide parents with (in-school) advocates to support their students’ needs

14000hours.ors is a strategic initiative of PS1, Pluralistic School in Santa Monica, California. communities committed to working together to transform the purpose of school. By connecting people with different perspectives to a shared vision for renewing education, we are catalyzing a national grassroots movement to bring about institutional change in schools.

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