“Too Essential to Fail: Why Our Big Bet on Public Education Needs a Bold National Response” is now available. Written by Knowledge to Power Catalysts partners Karen Pittman and Merita Irby and commissioned by Education Reimagined.

“Too Essential to Fail” brings together a preponderance of evidence from disparate sources that combined gives us the confidence we need to create a new education architecture that leverages the full complement of community resources needed to empower and support learners for life, work, and civic engagement.

Section 1

A Convergence of Perspectives documents the strong preferences among the public for movement toward the purpose, practice, and partner shifts revealed in recent polls. It includes differentiated polling of parents, students, employers, teachers, and afterschool educators. 

Section 2

Validation from Research reviews the foundational research from the fields of positive youth development and science of learning and development. They review four studies that, while they have clear implications for schools, take a developmental, learner-centered approach to understanding determinants of youth success and reinforce the importance of a strong, integrated learning and development ecosystem.

Section 3

Identifying Levers for Change uses compelling framing from the Christensen Institute to explain why the public education system is so unresponsive to community demands for change. They also review popular models for bringing school and community learning systems together that offer incomplete but promising footholds from which to build new ecosystem architecture.

Section 4

A Potential Path Forward offers a formal model for assessing the likelihood that major change can be accomplished and profiles emerging partnerships that may have the power to disrupt the hegemony schools now have because of how learning is delivered, measured, and credentialed. 

Through “Too Essential to Fail,” Pittman and Irby remind us that increasing youth thriving is doable. Every young person has the potential to thrive under the right conditions and every community has an opportunity and obligation to improve those conditions. The charge to move from systems to ecosystems thinking is not a call to sideline schoolsIt is a call to have schools function as hubs for leveraging school and community resources to provide rich learning experiences that build real-world competencies, commitments, and connections that support youth thriving.