Spotlight

Broader Bolder Campaign

by ELAINE WEISS

The Broader Bolder Approach to Education is a national campaign that acknowledges the impact of social and economic disadvantage on schools and students and proposes evidence-based policies to improve schools and remedy conditions that limit many children’s readiness to learn.

The campaign (www.boldapproach.org), which is housed at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., works at the federal and state levels to ensure all children have access to a quality early childhood education, healthy and sufficient meals, physical and mental health care, and after-school and summer enrichment that sustains school-year gains.

The BBA’s mission statement, drafted in 2008 by a high-profile group of education and policy experts, economists, policymakers and practitioners, highlighted the influence of poverty on persistent achievement gaps and demanded that policies address the consequences of poverty to close those gaps. Media attention at the time of the launch noted the inclusion in that list of such luminaries as Nobel Laureate economist Jim Heckman, several former U.S. undersecretaries of Education and former U.S. Surgeons General Julius Richmond, Joycelyn Elders and Richard Carmona.

In June 2009, the BBA accountability working group released a statement on problems with the use of test scores to evaluate teacher performance titled “School Accountability: A Broader Bolder Approach.” Since then, the BBA has worked with numerous allied organizations and associations to counter arguments that poverty is an “excuse” and to call for a holistic approach to education in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act and in school turnaround strategies such as those embedded in School Improvement Grants and in early education in the newly announced Early Learning Challenge grants, part of the next round of Race to the Top.

   — Elaine Weiss