A Seminal Time
Let’s cut to the chase. This is the most transformative time in public education in the last 50 years; maybe since Brown v. Board of Education. Students were out of the classroom for nearly a year engaging with their teachers virtually, separated from key socialization. What was the impact of that? There’s one of three possibilities:
- Students, on the whole, are academically and socially ahead of where they normally would be
- Students, on the whole, are academically and socially behind where they normally would be.
- There has been no change in key outcomes.
Every one of these options invites us to critically examine the structure of education. Do we need to spend years catching up? Have we found a more effective and cost-efficient way to deliver education? We don’t know the answer to that. Finding that answer is key in planning for the future decades.
Here’s my “theory of the case.” There are four different groups that have an interest in well-functioning, high-quality schools. In no particular order:
Parents and Caregivers. People have entrusted our schools to develop competent, well-functioning community members. This is an awesome responsibility. Schools must provide a safe, supportive environment where all children can thrive.
Students. Students are often left out of conversations concerning their needs. Why? They require quality training and knowledge if they are to navigate a rapidly changing economy and socio-political climate. We need to make sure their voices are valued and raised.
Teachers. We have talented teachers, though talent is not enough. Our educators and their supporting colleagues require the resources and capacities to teach and develop our students. This isn’t just supplies. It involves supporting their own continued education so they can grow with our students, adapt their methods, and make sure our students are prepared for the next decade of uncertainty.
The Community. We ask a lot of our residents. We need to be transparent with them about how we are stewarding their investment in our children. This includes making sure that resources are being used effectively and efficiently. If something is not working, we need to find something that will. Simply, does the community get more out than they put in?
I strongly believe that any school board must find the balance and the sweet spot between all those needs, and not allow one to take primacy over the others. And that’s tough, because one of these groups (the Community) is likely much more sizable than the others.
But education is not about finding the lowest common denominator that makes everyone happy. It’s about finding the strengths and potential within each individual.
If you agree, I humbly ask for your vote on May 18th.