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October 24, 2017

Dare to Aspire

Have you ever noticed that certain concepts or ideas seem to circle around you for a time, and then make themselves comfortable in a front row seat of your consciousness? I’ve heard it described as “the universe sending you a message.”

Lately, I have two concepts lodged in my brain: compliance and aspiration. I feel like these two ideas are sitting right next to each other calling out whenever they feel a part of a conversation I’m having or a thought I am pondering. Now and then, if the connection is powerful, one of them knocks and says, “You see, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”

In my imagination, aspiration is filled with light and hope while compliance seems tired and more than a little grumpy. Aspiration is defined as having a strong desire to achieve something great, compliance, on the other hand, means to submit or adapt to another’s wishes. The more I ponder, the more I realize: compliance is not our friend. Aspiration, though … aspiration might be our salvation.

Often, I am looking at the world through the lens of my role as the Director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. We know that 80% of the low-income children in our nation cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.  We also know it will take all of us, working together to turn this around.

Changing this statistic won’t come from merely complying with the way things have always been done. It won’t come from people deciding our children’s inability to read is someone else’s problem. It won’t happen from anyone doing the bare minimum to comply with a new policy at work or a half-hearted attempt to comply with a suggestion from an educator or community leader. Compliance isn’t enough. We need to dare to aspire.

When we have aspirations, we dream of the world where we want to live. When we share aspirations with each other … they come closer and closer to becoming realities. We want all our children to read on grade-level by the end of third grade? We need to start early, supporting families and parents with the very best our community has to offer. Everyone has a part to play in this aspiration.  Individuals, businesses, government, non-profits, and the media.

Let’s start by saying the status quo is NOT what we aspire to … and let’s all work to lift up our children to the success they deserve.

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