One Tuesday, June 21, Newark Mayor Cory Booker addressed the crowd at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' 2011 National Charter Schools Conference. While you can watch the speech here (Booker's portion begins at approximately 58:30), below we've posted a selection of some of the most inspiring quotes from his amazing address; quotes that articulate exactly why we are in the fight for school choice.
We have underestimated the profound genius, the infinite capacity, the unbelievable ability of our children. One of the worst sentiments in our nation is this toxic resignation to a school system that fails children. We have become comfortable with, not mediocrity, we have become comfortable with failure. It is time for a wakeup call. And folks don't like to be woken up. My dad used to it to me all the time. You don't like to be woken up. You get angry. You get frustrated. People like being comfortable. But we are here to disturb the comfortable. We are here to wake people up to the truth of our nation. We were not born for mediocrity. We were not born to fit in. We were born to stand out. This is the call of America. This is the call of our country, and our children say it every single day, like a call to our consciousness; like a demand upon our moral imagination. They say it from Newark to Oakland, those five words: Liberty and justice for all. But we are failing in that.
We fought the greatest war on American soil for the liberation of our people but yet we imprison more and more of our own in the prison of ignorance every single day, snuffing out their options and their potential.
They do not let their fear grow bigger than their faith. They do not let their inability to do everything undermine their ability to do something.
Don't tell me there is something in America we cannot do. But woe to the people who want to protect the status quo. Woe to the people who want to defend mediocrity and failure. Woe to the people who want to attack others for trying a different way.
We are a nation that was born from innovation; innovation of our ideals, innovation of agriculture, innovation in industry, innovation in science and technology. Why has the one sector of our society most in need of innovation been left in the agrarian age, and that is education? No more!
But I would be irresponsible if I didn't make one point. We are part of a charter school community that's under attack in every single state. We are a part of a charter school community that is trying to show the nation not that we're better than anybody but that our children—our children—should be our focus.
If we become a sclerotic movement, if we become an establishment that begins to protect charter schools just because they are a charter school, then we have failed as a movement. A charter school must be a school of accountability. A charter school must be a school of excellence. We cannot protect mediocrity or failure within the charter movement.- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG