I dream of a racially renewed and reconciled America at the end of her journey.
I dream of a time where people discover places of commonality and likeness, as they move along paths toward reconciliation and unity.
My earnest prayer is that Americans will mature to the point where they can forgive one another for the errors and remnants of the past.
My hope is that Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds will find enough space in their hearts to accept and respect one another without regard to skin color.
My dream for America is that each of us accepts our shared responsibility for working to build bridges between and among people who represent different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences.
I pray that every single American can somehow do her or his part, by using what they have and who they are, to transform the hearts and minds of people who share the spaces where they live, work, and play.
Someday Americans will unite regardless of their distinctions and differences.
The time is coming where people will come together as they unite around shared interests and causes.
Friends and strangers will mature and be able to forgive and seize the moments and opportunities in front of them.
Because even though we are all shaped by the tendencies, traditions, habits, and practices around us, we can still become one nation.
The spirit of America is defined by a shared concern for the poor.
Each of us has a moral imperative to do something to enhance the life prospects of those who are less fortunate.
Every one of us has to govern our own capacity to give, the habits of our hearts, and our compassion for others — to reveal our common spirit and virtue.
We must do better in our advocacy for social and economic safety nets that can facilitate upward mobility for those who have been disenfranchised for too long.
The tie that binds all of us is our willingness to help our sisters and brothers use their God-given gifts and abilities to achieve their own success and prosperity.
The life of Jesus Christ is our blueprint for how to achieve greatness in discipleship.
It teaches us that a place of honor is not something you ask for; it’s not something that the world can give you. It’s something you actually work for.
Greatness is earned – it’s not given to us or handed to us on a platter. Greatness is an honor given by God, not by man.
This honor has been prepared by God for those who are willing and committed to lifetimes of service and sacrifice. We don’t get to choose who is great in God’s kingdom, he does that.
We are responsible for making sure our priorities are straight, by operating with a servant’s mentality, as opposed to a selfish mentality.
We shouldn’t spend time seeking praise and positions from the world around us. Instead, our focus ought to be squarely on serving and giving.
We have a role model in Jesus Christ, who has taught and shown us what it takes to achieve greatness in the kingdom of God. (Mark 10: 35-45)
American classrooms are filled with professionals who serve because they care.
These stewards of our children’s academic success operate the schools, walk the hallways, and manage the classrooms with an unselfish spirit and great dignity.
They go about their business as educators without giving a single thought to compromising or sacrificing the academic interests of the students they serve.
It’s important for us to remember that there are scores of honest educators who do earnestly uphold the highest standards, principles, and ethics when it comes to serving school-aged children and youth.
Despite the bad deeds of some, we must not lose sight of the fact that a majority of K12 educators are indeed very good at what they do and are committed to making sure every child has access to a high quality education.
We must always resist the temptation to lose focus of the very good and hard work that continues to be done routinely by the school administrators, classroom instructors, teaching assistants, and the various other professionals whose work make each school day possible and meaningful for American schoolchildren everywhere.
That Christians will show the world what the authentic love of God looks like, acts like, and feels like.
That the entire Christian community will be more tolerant of people who are not like them or do not share their beliefs.
That people of faith will be less judgmental concerning others’ faults and weaknesses – so that we can share God’s gift of salvation with people everywhere.
For unity across God’s universal church, so that people who do not look alike, act alike, or speak alike, will unite around their common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
That we can all be slow to speak and condemn, but quick to listen and embrace.
Matters of the heart are beyond the jurisdiction of government legislation.
Not another speech, summit, or task force on race in America is needed. The racism that continues to haunt American life is truly a matter that can only be dealt with as individuals decide to overcome personal fears and ignorance about different groups of people.
Legislative mandates have undoubtedly been successful at rooting out institutional and systemic racism in many aspects of American life, but the true acts of racial healing and reconciliation can only occur as individuals choose to cleanse their hearts of racial hatred.
Individuals must choose to demonstrate the will, courage, and commitment necessary for dismantling racist practices and overcoming racist attitudes. Racial healing and reconciliation begin and end with every single American choosing to do their part to create a nation that is racially united and tolerant.
Spend the days ahead, placing Jesus Christ at the center of your life.
Work diligently as his disciple in your home, workplace, and community.
Ask God to give you wisdom to guide your soul and your spirit, so that your heart and mind are in tune with his will.
Seek a greater understanding of the ways in which God works, so that you may emulate his works in your dealings with people wherever you go.
Live well for God – make him proud of you, as you work with purpose, sharing the message and spirit of Jesus Christ, which is love, eternal life, and hope for all.
And as you continue on your journey toward the wisdom and purpose of God for your life, you will be strengthened on the inside, will experience God’s inner peace and joy, and will be able to persevere through life’s difficulties and challenges.
America’s schoolchildren deserve classrooms and schools that are functional.
We cannot expect or even hope that young people will excel academically if we do not provide them with classrooms and schools that are both invigorating and nurturing. It simply makes no sense to apply higher academic standards while ignoring factors that hinder students’ capacity to learn.
The structural, environmental, and social problems plaguing school operations have to be addressed so that our youth can perform at the highest levels. Leaky ceilings, broken chairs and desks, missing door locks, out of order bathrooms are unacceptable in an environment where we expect high academic achievement.
Given all the distractions permeating schools, care must be taken to ensure that students feel not only safe and secure inside and outside of their classrooms, but that they also feel free enough to actively engage in curricular and extracurricular exercises. This means effectively monitoring and managing the social and peer pressures facing young people during and after school hours.
Administrators must actively partner with persons and organizations that can assist with domestic, emotional, and psychological challenges that students bring to school with them each day. It means collaborating with professionals who can serve as mentors, coaches, tutors, and even funding partners.
If we don’t get a handle on some of the negative externalities that are hurting schools, then we risk every honest effort to produce healthy and productive school settings for school-aged youth in communities everywhere.
How well teachers teach and how well students learn are the building blocks for fulfilling the vision behind the Common Core State Standards.
To ensure that every child has the opportunity for academic success as a K12 learner and beyond requires this type of framework, in order to foster creativity, competence, commitment, and flexibility among teachers and students alike.
The Common Core is a roadmap for school leaders as they tailor the standards to fit the uniqueness of their student populations and teacher corps. It can be translated into a practical guide for synthesizing student academic goals with teacher effectiveness – ultimately relating how well teachers teach to how well students learn.
Through the application of creative instructional and learning practices, the hope is that new levels of effectiveness and success will be achieved – as classroom teachers enhance their capacity to challenge students and as students broaden their base of knowledge.
The Common Core is a timely response for assessing student academic achievement and evaluating classroom instruction, as we all continue the journey toward the discovery of new approaches and solutions for effective teaching and learning in the 21st century across diverse student populations.