The Challenges

This initiative calls for challenging many parties to pledge to help ALL our 4th grade students achieve full grade level mastery by the end of 4th grade. While the chances of full success are increased as more entities participate, the success is NOT DEPENDENT on the full participation of every entity of every targeted group.

    1. 4th Grade Math Teachers: All 4th grade Math teachers in the country are challenged to pledge that they will do their best to get ALL* their 4th grade students to have fully mastered all the K-4 Common core or equivalent Math requirements by the end of 4th grade and to agree to wear a highly visible symbol of their commitment every day – e.g. a brightly colored wristband.

    2. 4th Grade Students: All 4th grade students are challenged to pledge to put in full effort to master all the K-4 math requirements by the end of 4th grade and to agree to wear a wear a highly visible symbol of their commitment every day – e.g. a brightly colored wristband. 4th grade students already doing well in math are additionally challenged to pledge to help classmates that are not as far along.

    3. Parents of 4th Grade Students: All parents of 4th grade students are challenged to pledge to encourage and support their child’s mastery of all K-4 math requirements by the end of 4th grade and to agree to wear a highly visible symbol of their commitment every day – e.g. a brightly colored wristband.

    4. Manufacturers of Computing Devices: Manufacturers of education suitable computing devices are challenged to pledge to help ensure that no 4th grade student is hindered in achieving the initiative goal due to lack of access to a suitable computing device due to the personal financial situation of their school or family. Speed of availability is important. The goal should be to have devices in the hands of students within weeks and not months.

    5. Internet Broadband Providers: Providers of broadband internet access are challenged to pledge to help ensure that no 4th grade student is hindered in achieving the initiative goal due to lack of access to a suitable computing device due to the personal financial situation of their school or family. Speed of availability is important. The goal should be to have students have adequate internet bandwidth available within weeks and not months (e.g. mobile hotspots).

    6. Education Solution Publishers: Appropriate Education solution publishers are challenged to pledge to help ensure that no 4th grade student is hindered in achieving the initiative goal due to lack of access to a suitable computing device due to the personal financial situation of their school or family. Speed of availability is important. The goal should be to have students have access to education solutions within days and not weeks.

    7. School Administrators: All Administrators with influence over elementary schools are challenged to pledge to suspend all bureaucratic measures that might hinder teachers and students in the drive to have ALL students achieve mastery of K-4 math requirements by the end of 4th grade. This includes measures that might delay availability of computing devices, adequate broadband internet access, access to educational tools and software, etc. We are not seeking to pressure administrators to pledge to finance unscheduled access/availability, but rather simply help students/teachers to QUICKLY take advantage of tools and resources others would help make available (e.g. relax integration concerns, selection evaluations, administration formalities, etc. for initiative-related until after the initiative school year).

    8. National Media: We challenge you to get out the word and encourage teachers, students and parents to pledge to get their students to grade level mastery by the end of the 4th grade and then to frequently shine their spotlight on the best and the worst of what is happening with education in schools around the country. The cases of extreme success that others should be encouraged to emulate and the cases of extreme failure or deliberate hindrance that should have pressure brought upon them to remedy.

    9. Local Press & Media: We challenge the local press and media to take an active role in encouraging and supporting the success of the initiative in their schools and community. This includes in ensuring everyone knows about the initiative and rallying support for it as well as frequently highlighting progress and successes with credit to the many locals who are making this possible from teachers and administrators, to older students that are rallying support and working with the 4th graders to help them be successful, to parents active in rallying the community to the 4th grade students themselves that are either making exceptional progress or are going beyond and helping their classmates (i.e. be very liberal in spreading bragging rights around). It also includes highlighting people, policies and events that are hindering the students in the community from achieving the goal of 100% of students to 100% grade level mastery by the end of 4th grade.

    10. Corporations, Foundations, etc.: We challenge these organizations to participate in the promotion of the initiative (TV advertising, etc.) and in the facilitating of ensuring students throughout the country have the means of effective learning as quickly as possible (e.g. contributing to the financing of devices, bandwidth, educational tools, etc. We especially challenge this audience to make sure that communities of few means are not left behind for simply that reason.

    11. National Service, Youth-oriented and Religious Organizations: We challenge the national organizations of these types to encourage their local chapters and affiliates, to help organize local community support groups to actively support the 4th grade students and teachers in their communities in their effort to achieve full 4th grade level mastery by the end of the 4th grade.

    12. Local Political, Business Leaders, etc. and Local Service Clubs, Religious Organizations, etc.: We challenge the national organizations of these types to form a local Community Support Group/Organization to actively support the 4th grade students and teachers in their communities in their effort to achieve full 4th grade level mastery by the end of the 4th grade. This includes assisting in ensuring students have the tools and resources they need to learn effectively and efficiently.

    13. Community Support Groups: We challenge the community support groups to take the initiative to help ensure the schools in the community reach the goal of getting every student to full grade level mastery in math before the end of the 4th. This can include getting the word out and encouraging the community to get behind and commit to the initiative, rallying ongoing support and activities designed to maintain a high level of student motivation throughout the year as well as facilitating ensuring whatever resources and other things teachers and students need to be successful be made available quickly and un-bureaucratically.

    14. High School & College Students: This initiative is very much about the future of an entire generation. As a high school student in the Bronx said, we have to find a way so that not so many of our classmates fail (because the realized that the cost of failure of students would eventually be borne by those that did not fail). As a result, this entire initiative is therefore an opportunity for high school and university students to influence their own futures. As such we challenge these students to become the catalyst and driving force of the initiative. We challenges students in every school to organize those that are willing and to:
      1. rally as many local people as possible to extend the national challenge locally (and be sure to get maximum press and other coverage – ideally get the 4th grade teachers and students to be part of the rally where they can make a public pledges).
      2. take the lead in mobilizing the community (the political, business, religious and other leaders to organize a community support organization.
      3. take the lead in encouraging 4th grade teachers, students and their parents to pledge to get ALL students to 100 grade level mastery by the end of 4th grade (so that all students entering 5th grade will be at full grade level with confidence in their abilities as well.
      4. Become the witnesses and reporters of the efforts by your teachers, students and community to improve their future by writing frequent articles to the local press and media and forwarding these to the national level to that they can be fed to national and regional press and media.
      5. In other words, rally your entire community to do whatever it takes to get an entire year of students to demonstrate that they can all achieve grade level mastery and set a new standard and expectation for years to come.
      6. Encourage and organize students to offer tutorial services

    1. Sports and Entertainment Personalities, etc.: We know that sports and entertainment personalities have a lot of influence over young people. We also know that many of them are very concerned about the future of our country and especially the future of our children. We challenge sports and entertainment personalities to join in promoting this initiative. This could include simply making public announcements (e.g. press conference or public service commercial, etc.) or your support or rallying other personalities to join you in promoting students get involved or offering incentives tied to your person to motivate young people (e.g. offering to visit schools in certain areas that attain certain levels of grade level mastery or that are doing something exceptional in advancing education in their school or community, etc.).

    2. Sports Teams, Theme Parks, etc.: We challenge businesses and organizations that offer products and services valued by young people to join in promoting the initiative and student learning. For example, a sports team or theme park might offer to invite students from schools that attain a certain % of students at grade level mastery by the end of 4th grade to a sports event or theme park etc. We challenge this segment to blow us away with the imaginative ways they can motivate students and keep the motivational level high for an extended period.

    3. Influential Personalities: This is addressed to the Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerbergs, Eric Schmidts, etc. of the world that generally support efforts to make the world a better place for everyone to get behind this initiative with a vengeance. We challenge you to get personally involved. We challenge you to fix the things you think can be made better. We challenge you to get others involved. The bottom line is that we challenge you to pledge that you will personally do what you can to help 100% of all 4th graders to achieve full grade level mastery by the end of 4th grade.

    4. Senior Citizens: Senior citizens have done much to make the world the way it is now. We challenge you to not stop now. There are roughly 4.5 million 4th graders in the US and more than 5 times that number of “active” seniors. We challenge you seniors to get involved, volunteer to coach or tutor students (we are only talking about 4th grade math – but be willing to take a refresher course yourself – maybe ask the student’s you are tutoring to show you how it works) or get involved in organizing community motivational rallies or fund raisers to make sure students have what they need to learn, etc. The opportunities are unlimited.

    5. Teachers Other Than 4th Grade Math Teachers: Some teachers other than 4th grade math teachers might feel slighted by this focus on 4th grade math. We challenge you in two special ways:
      1. Do not act in a way that waters down the effort on 4th grade math by competing for resources, etc. 4th grade math is just the start. It is planned to add grade levels and subjects in each subsequent year once we have proven the approach works.
      2. In the interim, however, you can challenge your students to show the world that it is not only 4th grade students that can set a new standard. Leverage the focus on 4th grade to get your students excited about doing their thing and showing what they can do.

    1. 4th graders again: Finally, we challenge all 4th graders to take this challenge on regardless of whether your school or teachers are participating. It is your future we are all talking about here. Organize yourselves, make noise. Join other like thinkers. Find ways to help yourselves. Ask for help when needed. Go for it.

One thought for the announcement of these challenges. Imagine a TED talk video where a high school student comes out and talks about the importance of getting every student to be successful in education to become a productive member of society for the future of everyone and announces that the young generation can no longer leave it solely up to others to shape their future. This student would be followed by another high school student that would issue the first challenge followed by another high school student with the next challenge and so on. As each student issues their challenge, they would step to the back as the new student takes the stage. After about half the challenges, the students would start to become 4th grade students that would continue articulating the challenges. After the last student issues their challenge all the 4th graders step forward as a group and issue the final challenge in unison – “to everybody, please help us fulfill this challenge to ourselves”. Then the high school students step forward just behind the 4th graders and say in unison, “we high school students have taken the pledge to help – please, high school students all over the country, go to our website and start a pledge group for your community.” Let’s make this happen. For all the rest of you, whether you were mentioned in these challenges or not, please challenge yourselves to find ways to support the all the 4th graders in your community achieving 100% grade level mastery by the end of the school year. There is only one reason we will not achieve this goal and that is if too many Americans do not pitch in to help make it happen.