Readiness as a Right: A Four-Part Exploration of our Work

March 19, 2015

If you’re like us, you want to challenge and be challenged. You’re here because you believe there are better ways to get every young person ready for college, work and life.  

You’re in the right place. We believe that there is a better way to get young people ready to meet life demands. In this blog series, we will examine these four themes:
We have to stop playing it safe. Readiness isn’t just a goal, it’s a right.  Excellence is a hollow goal unless it pursued in the service of equity. I and the entire Forum team believe that we can all do much, much more to bring an equity lens to the excellence table.  
We have to stop talking about non-academic outcomes. Readiness isn’t just about being ready for college; it’s about being ready for work, ready for civic life, ready to thrive after transitioning out of foster care or juvenile justice, ready for marriage and parenthood. Young people must hone a universal set of abilities to be successful in all of these situations. We can all do more to name these abilities with language that everyone understands. 
We must talk more about quality – everywhere. Young people can’t hone these abilities without steady practice. Steady youth practice requires good adult practices that spark engagement and support growth and risk-taking. This isn’t a priority only for the afterschool field; it must be a priority for every system.
We have to measure what matters the most. Shared measurement is in.  But a commitment to measuring the wrong things together doesn’t get us where we need to go.  We have to measure the hard things that matter, like the broader abilities, quality practice, and partner follow-through on commitments. We have to build measurement systems that allow us to answer hard questions about the relationship between effort and outcomes. And we have to “stock” our systems with the backdrop data on poverty and race that force us to examine the differences in access and outcomes.
Let's do this. 
Karen Pittman