While Fashion Week typically conjures to mind haute couture, elite models and clothing trends, it just served as a launch pad for a $50 million education initiative that seeks to challenge the current system of doing business for underprivileged students in American schools.
Oscar-winning singer John Legend performed at the Fashion Week unveiling of the initiative, called Reimagine Learning, launched by New Profit, an organization funding a broad portfolio of educational and social entrepreneurs, including a network of charter schools. Speakers called for a focus on students rather than adults, as happens too often through pressure from teachers’ unions, and dismantling of an “educational industrial complex.”
Leaders of New Profit chose Fashion Week as a way to spark cultural transformation, one of its three key pillars in reforming education. They’re also focusing on macro-policy changes and practitioner support.
“I was attracted to perform at the Reimagine Learning reveal by the opportunity to help restart the conversation about education reform in a way that was student centered and supported by a diverse coalition of over 70 partner organizations,” LeDerick Horne, a poet and activist told Opportunity Lives. Horne opened the event with an original work of poetry and led introductions from various non-profits. “I am also impressed by New Profit’s ability to bring together figures from the arts, entertainment, neuroscience, and business world to dedicate ourselves to improving our schools.”
Horne’s writing and poetry explores issues related to education reform and challenges he faced growing up as an African-American male with a learning disability. He also serves on the board of directors at Eye to Eye, a mentoring organization receiving funding under Reimagine Learning.
“We can begin to change the current system by highlighting, studying, and then replicating what we already know works to help students succeed,” Horne said. “We need to move away from a one-size-fits-all model of education towards a more individualized institution, and we need to invest in our educators by giving them the tools needed to effectively support every student. America also needs a cultural shift that will fill our hearts with the firm belief that every student, despite their label, has the right to an education that lets their light shine.”
Reimagine Learning also highlighted Understood.org, a free online community offering support for families with children who have learning and attention issues. Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank, attended the launch event and lent his star power to support Understood.org. John spoke of growing up with dyslexia and the need for better diagnoses and caregiving for kids with learning disabilities.
Other Reimagine Learning partners include the MIT Media Lab’s Learning Over Education project, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and The University of Kansas Center for Research and Learning. These efforts seek a whole-child approach to social and academic success. In an age where No Child Left Behind, Common Core and other test-based evaluations quantify and focus on hard skills, leaders of Reimagine Learning also want to develop student character. They believe broadening the curriculum approach will yield better quantitative results.
“Today, we undervalue social and emotional learning because we don’t understand how profoundly it impacts how a brain develops and supports positive life outcomes,” states a Reimagine Learning booklet handed out at the event. “The best learning environments recognize that cognitive, social and emotional skills are inextricably linked and together drive academic performance, well-being and life success. We need to put the same value and energy into teaching social and emotional skills (skills like: grit, self-regulation, empathy) as we do into teaching algebra.”
Read the original story here on Opportunity Lives…
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others.