1,500 Leaders, Educators, Parents, and Advocates Pledge to Act on Findings of New TNTP Study

Coalition Features 40 Prominent Education Leaders and Organizations, Including Two Former US Education Secretaries

More than 1,500 people—including more than 40 prominent education leaders and organizations—have pledged to take action in response to a new study on how students experience school. Released last week by education nonprofit TNTP, The Opportunity Myth followed 4,000 students in five public school systems and found that they spent hundreds of hours each school year doing work that wasn’t challenging enough for their grade level. The growing coalition of educators, advocates, parents, and students has committed to help give more students access to grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, engaging lessons, and high expectations—four resources that can help students do better in school, according to TNTP’s research.

“Our study revealed a hard truth: the choices adults are making at every level of the education system deny too many students a real chance to reach their big goals,” said TNTP’s CEO, Daniel Weisberg. “It’s great news for kids that so many people who care about public education have pledged to make different choices to create better school experiences—and I hope even more will join them.”

“TNTP’s research in the Opportunity Myth report shines a light on the inequities students of color face every day in our public schools, and the choices made at every level of the system that too often deny them the resources and opportunities they deserve,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS. “But just as importantly, this report provides a practical roadmap for educators, policymakers, and families who want to create better experiences and new opportunities for all students—starting tomorrow.”

The Opportunity Myth exposes the deep disconnect between students’ ambitious aspirations for their future and the stark reality that too many graduates face as they leave school unprepared for the challenges of work and college,” said Bibb Hubbard, Founder & President of Learning Heroes. “Learning Heroes has seen a similar disconnect among parents nationally. The time is now to ensure that families are provided with accurate, timely, understandable, and actionable information about their children’s achievement so all children can succeed.”

“Teachers are in classrooms everyday working hard to do right by their students,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence. “TNTP’s new study shines a light on the very real inequities prevalent in schools across the country and challenges the way teachers, schools, and districts support students. We know from E4E’s recent nationally representative teacher survey that they want effective professional development to better meet the diverse needs of their students. Schools and districts must partner with teachers to equip the leaders of our classrooms with the tools and skills necessary to educate our next generation.”

“With disturbing clarity, The Opportunity Myth reveals the systemic failure of our education system to get results for students who have high aspirations and do what they’re asked in school, but are too often not given grade-appropriate work, instruction, and engagement needed to succeed,” said Andrew Stern, President Emeritus of the Service Employees International Union. “And as frequently recognized, low-income children, children of color, and children with disabilities pay even a higher price. Fortunately, there are approaches that can succeed.”

“TNTP’s research is a powerful reminder that we don’t yet value what we claim to value in public education. We say we want schools that challenge and inspire, but most students—especially our most vulnerable students—waste hundreds of hours a year on boring work that doesn’t honor their abilities or aspirations,” said former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “The 4,000 student voices in this report show that kids from all backgrounds succeed when we choose to expect great things from them, and provide the schoolwork and instruction to match. I hope educators at every level of the system will listen and learn from them.”

“The Opportunity Myth highlights the large and persistent inequities in educational opportunity and achievement that impact students of color and students from low-income families in our nation,” said John B. King, Jr., former U.S. Education Secretary and president and CEO of The Education Trust. “The report provides clear, actionable steps that districts can and should take to ensure educational justice is a reality for every student.”

The list of leaders and organizations that have committed to advancing the recommendations in The Opportunity Myth includes:

Individual Leaders

  • Kriner Cash, Superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools
  • Christopher Cerf, former Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Education and former Superintendent, Newark Public Schools
  • Sharon Contreras, Superintendent, Guilford Public Schools (NC)
  • John Deasy, Superintendent, Stockton Public Schools (CA)
  • Arne Duncan, former U.S. Education Secretary
  • Rick Fitzpatrick, Superintendent, Corning Unified School District (CA)
  • Kaya Henderson, former Chancellor, DC Public Schools
  • Jason Kamras, Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools
  • Pedro Martinez, Superintendent, San Antonio ISD
  • Christopher Ruszkowski, New Mexico Education Secretary
  • Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Scott Shirey, Superintendent, KIPP Delta
  • Andrew Stern, President Emeritus, SEIU
  • Greg Vincent, Chief Academic Officer, Independence Mission Schools (PA)
  • John White, Superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education


  • 100Kin10
  • Center for American Progress
  • The College Board
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • DiscoverU
  • EdNavigator
  • The Education Trust
  • Educators 4 Excellence
  • EL Education
  • Expect More, Achieve More Coalition (Tennessee)
  • Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Great MN Schools
  • IDEA Public Schools
  • Instruction Partners
  • Leaders in Training (Las Vegas)
  • LEAP Innovations
  • Learning Heroes
  • Minnesota Comeback
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • The New Teacher Center
  • NWEA
  • Student Achievement Partners
  • Student Voice Collaborative
  • Success Academy
  • Teach Plus
  • Tennessee SCORE
  • Understood
  • UnidosUS

More about The Opportunity Myth

Adults have always told students that doing well in school will prepare them for their futures. Yet far too many students graduate from high school still unprepared for the lives they want to lead. We’ve spent the last three years trying to understand why. We followed nearly 4,000 students in five diverse school systems to learn more about their experiences, collecting nearly 30,000 student surveys during their lessons. What we found was unnerving: classroom after classroom filled with A and B students whose big goals for their lives are slipping further away each day—not because they can’t master challenging material, but because they’re rarely given a real chance to try. The Opportunity Myth is available at tntp.org/opportunitymyth.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

Learn More About TNTP