In 2020, our education system experienced a crisis like none other in its long history. Schools were shuttered. Students and teachers transitioned from brick and mortar classrooms to virtual ones, with hundreds of thousands of children being lost entirely from the system and many more, particularly in low-income communities, slipping further behind academically.
Yet, the story of 2020 is not only one of challenges but also of all the ways that communities rose to meet them together. At 50CAN, we’re proud of our local advocates who stepped forward to lead through this crisis. They worked with cities to develop food delivery and pick-up systems. They brought WiFi to rural communities. They organized parents to secure breakthrough policies like direct educational aid to families, built public support for learning pods and ensured that it was possible for every student to continue their learning online.
The culmination of these efforts: 2,815 advocates organized across our network and 34 policy wins in 2020, both records in the 10-year history of our network. To reach these goals we had to redefine the way we do our work from the bottom up-from innovative new policy goals to new online tactics to a new timetable for campaigns that allows for rapid changes to an ever-evolving landscape.
As we take stock of these efforts in 2020, it is this commitment to break free from the old ways of doing things that serves as our guide for the work ahead in 2021. We must redefine not only how we carry out our education advocacy campaigns, but K-12 education itself. As we shift in the months ahead from emergency to recovery, we know that we will need a new approach to learning that puts one-on-one tutoring at the center of children’s educational experience, supported by funding that flows directly to families for a wide variety of needs and measurement systems that focus on the whole child and keep up with all the different ways in which children are now learning in this new reality.
We have the opportunity and responsibility to rebuild America’s education system into a stronger, more just and more effective pathway to the American dream for all students. With your continued support and guidance, we are excited to take on the urgent work ahead.