By Gordon Brown, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Gordon Brown served as Britain's Prime Minister between 2007 and 2010 after a decade as the country's finance minister, or Chancellor of the Exchequer. In July this year he was appointed as a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
(CNN) - News that a 14-year-old Pakistani girl was gunned down by the Taliban simply because she wanted to go to school has sparked a wave of protests and condemnation across the world.
As she fights for her life in hospital, Malala Yousafzai is being adopted as every child's sister and every parent's daughter.
Wearing "I am Malala" t-shirts, young people in Pakistan are not only challenging the Taliban's brutality and dogma, they're boldly affirming the right of every child to education.
The protests reveal a generation no longer willing to tolerate the gap between the promise of opportunity for all and the reality for millions of boys and girls shut out from even the most basic of primary schooling. Indeed, they are doing more to assert their right to education than the leaders who promised to deliver it.
If there is one idea that has been pre-eminent in the modern world, it is that every child should have the opportunity through schooling to rise as far as their talents can take them. For decades we have assumed the inevitability of the forward march of education, the inexorable year-on-year, continent-by-continent progress towards universal education.
But if there is one reality that exposes our failure to deliver, it is that there are 61 million young children like Malala who will not go to school today or any other day. Written off at five and six years old, they will never be able to bridge the gap between what they are and what they have in themselves to become.
Read Gordon Brown's full column
By Sam Macer, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Sam Macer is a PTA dad and foster parent. As the immediate past president of the Maryland PTA and the current president of the Maryland Foster Parent Association, he uses his 30 years of PTA experience to support Maryland’s foster parents as they strive to provide the youth in their care with safety, permanency, wellbeing and educational support. He was recently honored at the White House as a PTA “Champion of Change.”
(CNN) – As a PTA parent, grandparent, uncle and foster parent to over 40 children I have gained valuable experience in the area of parent engagement. I have had children who absolutely hated school and children who loved the challenge of being the best they could be. As a PTA leader, I have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts, experiences and perspectives with all parents concerning their efforts to raise and sustain academic achievement and build a strong home/school connection.
There are four basic suggestions I share with parents: Make the commitment, make a plan, determine expectations and coordinate effective parent–teacher conferences.
One of the first things I share with parents is the need to make the personal commitment to be involved and engaged the entire school year. I have never had an "easy" school year. Many times I have had to remind myself why I am engaged and why I need to stay engaged. There are many challenges to being an effective support for the children and their teachers and every once in a while I have to remind myself of my commitment. Commitment keeps you in the game. Once a parent loses commitment, things sometimes go by the wayside, the child can begin to drift through the school year and the teachers feel less supported.
Please don’t be that parent who comes to school in March to sign your child out early and when the secretary asks you for the teacher’s name, you don’t know it. Don't give the school a reason to ask, "Where have you been all year?"
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org