The mission of the Fort Worth Education Partnership is to support, invest in, and coordinate opportunities that increase access to high-quality educational experiences for Fort Worth children.
As we go about this work, one of the words that comes up a lot is the word “advocacy.” After you do this work for a while, you begin to realize that it is not enough to provide funding to worthwhile programs, organizations, and schools (although that is a lot). You also have to advocate for these opportunities for families and children. And, even more importantly, you begin to realize that you have to empower those same families and children to themselves be advocates for these opportunities.
That is why the word “advocacy” comes up so often in our work.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought about the word “advocacy” itself. The word “advocate” actually comes from the courtroom. It had not occurred to me before that its root was the Latin word vocare, which means “voice” or “calling.” It’s where we get our word “vocation,” which is the idea that we are all called to something in our lives; our vocation is our calling.
The “ad” at the beginning of the word “advocate” means “in the direction of” or “in addition to.” So an advocate is some who “adds” a “voice.” To advocate is to add a voice of support to a cause or a person. An advocate is anyone who adds that voice by representing another person in court, or by supporting or working toward a particular course of action.
So, in that sense, what a sacred privilege it is to “add a voice” to the voices of children and families in Fort Worth who are in need of and who are seeking the life-transforming opportunity of a high-quality education.
The unfortunate reality right now is that many, many children in our public school systems are struggling, for all kinds of complex social and systemic reasons, and they are not prepared for academic success beyond high school. Fewer that 10% of economically disadvantaged kids in Fort Worth are earning a two or four year degree within six years of graduating from high school.
And there are parents and families in Fort Worth who are seeking something different. And better. They are working for it and speaking up for it. They are calling for the opportunity that each child in our city deserves.
So count me in as an advocate for Fort Worth children and families. In fact, I think the vocation I have these days is to do what I am able to “add a voice” to theirs so that it becomes a rising chorus calling for opportunities for all to receive a great and life-changing education.