The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools

This post is by Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. In jopp equst over a month my book -- our book -- hits the bookstores and I'm going to be hitting the road.  The Opportunity Equation is part personal story, large part Citizen Schools story, and most of all a call to action to citizens across the country to get active in addressing our nation's growing opportunity and achievement gaps.

The book is already getting pre-publication reviews and they are encouraging. Kirkus Reviews calls the book "a call to action for citizens and educators so that the achievement gap can be closed as rapidly as possible."  And Publisher's Weekly said, "Combining data-rich statistics with frequently funny and animated accounts of his work with Citizen Schools, including a bracing candor about mistakes and learning on the fly, Schwarz offers...a constructive blueprint for boosting achievement without abandoning public education."

It is my hope that this book will provoke new thinking about education, build understanding, influence policy, and mobilize citizens to do their part in lifting up opportunity for all children. Stories like that of Alan Su, a whiz kid engineer at Google who taught a computer programming apprenticeship five times at the Clarence Edwards Middle School, and of Margie Tkacik, who allowed me to be the first Citizen Teacher in our program when I taught a journalism apprenticeship in her classroom, will help readers see themselves as key participants in the change that needs to happen.

I want to use the book and a planned 20-city book tour in September to advance the ideals of Citizen Schools and advance understanding of the opportunity gap that exists—and is growing—for low-income youth. The conversation needs to shift from blaming convenient scapegoats like teachers unions and poverty to lifting up solutions and finding practical ways to empower everyday citizens to improve our schools. This message can only truly take root if we mobilize thousands of citizens like you to promote the ideas of the book and the values that Citizen Schools represents. We’ll be in touch before the September 2nd launch date with more ways you can be a part of this movement, but for now want to share a few ways to help us build momentum:

  1. The book is now available for pre-order, so if you’d like to be one of the first to read it, click here to learn about ordering options.
  2. Learn more about the book and share the site via social media to spread the word!
  3. Read excerpts from the book and start a dialogue with others in your network.
  4. Plan on coming to one of the book tour events in September (30+ events in 20+ cities) and commit to promoting the book and the events in your network via social media and personally inviting your friends.
  5. Share your own Citizen Schools story. We want all elements of this book tour to celebrate the impact that Citizen Schools has on the students, Citizen Teachers, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and more, and we need your help. Submit your story to our blog!

I look forward to reflecting back on these upcoming months and seeing that they truly galvanized those inside and outside of the Citizen Schools community to elevate our conversation about education and lift up opportunity for all children.  Thanks in advance for your interest and commitment.