By David McGuire
In 1983 Congress passed legislation which President Ronald Reagan signed into law: the creation of Martin Luther King Day. Then, in 1986, the federal Martin Luther King Day officially went into effect. We have just celebrated the 31st annual Martin Luther King Day. While schools were closed and students had the day off, many were encouraged to not just sleep in but to participate in celebrations and activities centered around the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I myself had the day off. But there was no time for sleeping in. I got up bright and early to work a unity tournament basketball game hosted at our school. I then took a break from that and helped to run a Keep the Dream Alive Martin Luther King day event at for the families in our charter network.
As I reflect on my short time not only as a principal, but also more importantly as an educator, I think about my own journey to provide quality education for all children and how it began the moment I decided to step into a classroom. That journey now has morphed into a variety of roles: principal in a public charter school, a writer and advocate for educational equity, and a policy fellow working to ensure that legislation related to education is informed by the school and classroom.
In 2013, I decided to join the staff at a school that was in the process of trying to reshape and transform an already struggling school. We had many successes and failures in my two short years, but what is most powerful is that we gave a school and a school community a second chance. And we gave them hope.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
Faith is taking the first step even when you cannot see the whole staircase.
I could not see the path when I took that step and decided to embark on this journey; however, I knew where I wanted the path to take me.
Every year on Martin Luther King Day we see footage of many of Dr. King’s most famous speeches. I reflect on those speeches and how they have shaped my fight for school choice. I think about one of his most famous speeches, “I have a Dream,” when King said simply, “Now is a time to make justice for all God’s children.” He is right and for me, that means that all children deserve the right to quality education in a quality school regardless of zip code or socio-economic means.
The pursuit of educational excellence and opportunity for all children is the force that drives my passion. I will continue to fight for educational freedom for America’s children in large part because of the words of Dr. King. I challenge all who care about school choice to remember how fortunate we are to have had a man willing to give up everything in the hopes that could give others everything.
This year on Martin Luther King Day I have reaffirmed my dedication to ensuring that all children have access to a quality education. It is the best way I know to honor and truly live out the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
David McGuire writes for Citizen Ed. An education reform blog.