Responding to the global need for educational equity

As co-founders of The One World Network of Schools, Aaron Brenner and I recently had the opportunity to share our thoughts with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation on how our work in the US helps children around the globe.

Read below or click here to read our thoughts on Responding to the Global Need for Educational Equity directly on the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation blog.

What do parents around the globe want for their children? More and more, we’re learning that they’re united in their desire for their kids to receive a quality education.  While we knew that families in the U.S. wanted great teachers, strong leaders, and a clear pathway to and through college, we were surprised that parents in other countries also yearned for that kind of education. We learned that there was a need for educational equity not only here in the U.S., but also abroad.

With this new understanding, we used the knowledge we had gained from our work with KIPP in the U.S., and we began thinking about how it could apply to places such as Israel, Japan, India, South Africa, and Chile. In all these countries, children in at-risk communities were bored in school, and cut off from knowledge, skill, and character development opportunities. Students dropped out of school at similar rates, and found similarly few opportunities for employment. And their parents were similarly desperate for great education options to help their children shape their own destiny.

Responding to the global need

And so we cofounded The One World Network of Schools, with our colleague Sunita Arora, to bring our learnings from our KIPP work to others around the globe. Today, One World supports highly motivated leaders in six countries around the world—Mexico, Israel, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Chile—to create excellent schools in high-need communities. From the bustling fish markets of Mumbai to the immigrant hub of Haifa to the outskirts of Santiago, One World’s leaders share families’ visions for their children and are working to build schools that meet students’ needs.

Although we’re still in the early stages of our international work, we’ve identified three elements from our work in the U.S. to developing lasting educational models:

  1. Transformational Schools – Getting schools on the ground and delivering on the promises made to parents at those schools.
  2. Leadership Development – Developing leadership at all levels so talented and visionary leaders are prepared to scale excellence far beyond the walls of a single school.
  3. Cross-Pollination – Encouraging collaboration and cross-pollination so the successes of schools and school systems can be shared throughout the country and the world.

An example of our global work

What does this look like in one of our countries of practice? In Mexico, for example, we sought out and developed a handful of courageous leaders willing to do whatever it takes for their students and communities. We supported these leaders in opening their own schools, and then launched a Latin American Leadership Institute to help spread their best practices and prepare the next generation of school leaders. To establish the work of cross-pollination, we recruited and trained a local executive director to lead an emerging Mexican network of One World schools, to help facilitate collaboration among leaders throughout our communities. In all of our partner countries, the path to these three elements has looked similar.

What’s next?

This is just the beginning of what we know will be a long road of hard work in schools around the world. By taking our learnings from our work in the U.S. and applying it to schools in other countries, we are hoping to close the education gap that appears to be a problem shared by other countries outside the U.S.

We are encouraged by the driving force behind our efforts: the families in our communities, united by a common desire for great education. When we see students provided with opportunities through education—those their parents hoped they’d be afforded – we’ll know we’re a “success.”

Parents around the globe are hungry for transformational schools. We’re hard at work planting the seeds that will have to grow and flourish for those parents to see their children’s dreams fulfilled.

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