Pipe: SFER’s mission opens doors for the underprivileged

On Friday, Geneseo sophomores Julia Addeo and Brittany Wolf received amazing news from Students for Education Reform, a national organization founded and based at Princeton: SFER National had accepted Geneseo's application to become a national chapter. Geneseo is one of twelve campuses across the country to gain national status for fall 2011, joining previously established chapters at Brown, Colby, Harvard, Haverford, Minnesota, Princeton and Yale. The organization's mission statement reads that colleges recognized as national chapters of SFER "work to close the achievement gap and ensure an excellent education for all children by mobilizing the next generation of leaders in education reform."

As a national chapter, SFER Geneseo will receive ongoing support from SFER National, as well as participate in the National Summit each fall and gain job and internship opportunities with leaders in education reform. SFER Geneseo is committed to educating about and helping to close the achievement gap, which is the reality that children living in low-income communities, who are disproportionately people of color, will not receive the same quality education as their peers in higher-income communities.

The news is a celebration of the incredibly hard work that Addeo, Wolf and the SFER Geneseo community have done to make educational inequity and the need for reform part of our campus conversation. More than acknowledging the work that's been done, though, the national bid challenges our campus to work together to combat educational inequity and make education reform a top priority.

As members of a rural community, we also have a crucial perspective to provide when looking at education reform. Geneseo is uniquely positioned to highlight the problem of rural educational inequity, which rarely receives the attention it warrants. Educational inequity is commonly and incorrectly seen solely as an urban problem, happening in underfunded city school districts.

Student teachers, H.E.R.O.S. mentors, KidStart volunteers and Big Brothers / Big Sisters can attest otherwise. Resources are unevenly allocated when comparing area districts in Livingston County, meaning that all students are not receiving the same excellent public education that they deserve, and are promised, by our government. Calling attention to the problem of educational inequity in rural districts means that Geneseo can help to more accurately portray the pervasiveness of this problem in all communities.

Gaining a national chapter of SFER gives Geneseo the ability to collaborate with like-minded peers from the best colleges in the country, substantiating the importance of our students in the national movement for education reform. I'll admit in print that I hate the unofficial "Harvard of the SUNYs" slogan we've adopted (not to mention those awful shirts), but the opportunity to work alongside the colleges that we aspire to be seen as should inspire all of us to get motivated.

Let's mobilize, as SFER's mission says, and make a commitment to get serious about correcting our nation's most crucial injustice, because all students, regardless of race or income, deserve an education that will allow them the opportunity to one day choose between Harvard or Geneseo … and go with Geneseo, obviously.