Monday, March 21, 2011

May You Live in Interesting Times...

Yes indeed, we are living the age old curse in the education world. The highlights of what makes this time “interesting” are overwhelming in a lot of respects. Perhaps the most overwhelming highlight for public education is the increased “business model” of education reform. These reform ideas (i.e. increased accountability, attempting to calculate “return on investment” in education) lead to an increased skepticism of education institutions and the important work they do. Skepticism of the intensity currently propagated makes it difficult for educational institutions to defend themselves and continue the morally important work required of all of us. Yes, interesting times.

I see a problem and an opportunity resulting from living in these interesting times. The problem is obvious…less financial, political and community support for the work that we do. But why is there less support for education? Is it possible that the ground has moved beneath our feet and we in education have not recognized the movement yet while our communities have made this recognition? Are we holding onto the past in a last gasp effort to keep everything the status quo? These are the types of questions that can (and do) keep me up at night. Without a doubt, there are thousands of educators across the country who are doing marvelous things for the kids in their communities. Overall, our field is filled with people that are truly dedicated to helping students learn; but what if we are working in a system that is outdated and needs to adjust to a new reality. I think society is in a historic, transformation stage and education must seize this opportunity to change. The alternative is to disappear. Tomorrow I will discuss how public schools can adapt to a new reality.

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