The first three of the Partnership’s five commitments are grounded by an even more fundamental commitment: to honor the trust placed in us by communities and parents to assist in preparing our children for productive, prosperous, and fulfilling lives. Public schools belong by definition to the public, to all people in our communities, including those who may not currently attend, send children to, or work in schools. We see ourselves as the community’s stewards in the schools. But we also serve as stewards of the schools in the community. Schools are integral and vital to the life of a community. Schools rally the community together around the most important of our common concerns: children. But schools also give communities a shared purpose for tomorrow as well as for today. In school, the future is the work we perform in the present. The educational and social needs of children are the principal of the mortgage we have taken out on our community’s economic and moral living space: The more we devote to paying off that principal—meeting children’s needs here and now—the less we will ultimately be charged for full ownership in the future.
One of our most important responsibilities in the Partnership, therefore, is to better understand how we can bring our communities and schools closer together around a shared purpose for and vision of education. A large portion of this responsibility involves including all public education stakeholders in the simultaneous renewal of public schools and educator preparation that we have described in this article. Indeed, we hope that the community joins public schools and educator preparation programs in the work and the blessings of simultaneous renewal. But as stewards of both the community and the schools, we are also responsible for bringing the highest standards of professionalism to our work. In the Partnership we are com- mitted to be the very best educators we can be, current in our understanding of pedagogy and the content areas we teach, and dedicated to the imperative for ourselves, as well as our students, to become lifelong learners. We are also committed to bring out of our students their very best efforts to learn. In fact, we recognize that we do not necessarily even know what the young are really capable of accomplishing. In a very real way, all of us—the Partnership, the community, students’ families, and students themselves—will be able to measure our success by the degree to which our students’ accomplishments surprise us by exceeding our expectations.
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