Dear Mr. Speaker: What is Your Definition of “Hope?”

An open letter to Representative Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the House…

I’ve been hearing a lot about “hope” in education circles lately – “Schools of Hope”, “Hope Scholarships”, providing hope for students in “failing” schools. The term seems to be used by you and other legislative leaders as a way to garner public support for your policies. I certainly can’t argue with that strategy – after all, many public schools feel hopeless, so when they hear the term I can imagine their ears perk up.

This gets me thinking though, about whether or not you have considered what really brings hope to the children and parents in public schools.

I looked up hope on and found the following:

noun, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.”

Do you think the children in Florida’s public schools hope the neighborhood schools that are part of their community and part of their lives will close? Do you think they want to be uprooted and sent to another school in the middle of their studies, with unfamiliar teachers, administrators and classrooms? Do you think they hope for a new charter school to take the place of the neighborhood school they know and love, only to turn away many of their friends who live in the community?

Do you think a child who is being bullied in a public school hopes to be uprooted from his or her environment and moved to a new private school with unfamiliar faces, with no guarantee that he/she won’t be bulled at the new school? Do you think that same child wants the bully to continue to mistreat their friends in public school after they leave?

I’ve spent a lot of time in public schools, and here is my impression of what children hope for:

They hope for a school that is fully funded and fully resourced.

They hope for enough Guidance Counselors and Behavior Coaches to be able to stop bullying in its tracks, so that NO children will be hurt.

They hope that their school will not be judged and potentially closed based on school grades that are calculated based on point-in-time test scores.

They hope for a world in which ALL public schools are  valued and worth saving.

Is this aligned with your definition of hope?


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