The answer to that question is quite simple: Yes, we are there and have been for some time. There has been considerable discussion over the evolution of our educational system and its deterioration from where it began when Thomas Jefferson first conceptualized it.
Education has been pulled further and further away from the public watch and toward private and political influences. There is no doubt we are at a tipping point as various powers of influence jockey for control. The days of creativity have been lost to chasing the highest score, as districts nationwide are teaching to the test and driving our students to after-school boot camps just to better their chances of making the grade or, should I say, the standardized test grade.
As I travel the country and listen to educational leaders, I realize that we truly do know what we must do and, most importantly, we know we can’t do it alone. Earlier this month, I saw Jamie Vollmer speak at the USAA Urban Superintendents Summer Academy, and his message is quite clear: We need to work together as a community to help our schools take back education. I highly recommend that you read his latest book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone and watch the brief video on his website. His argument is spot-on and compelling.
We need to take back the control we have lost and are continuing to lose for our children and, ultimately, our children’s children. The only way we can do this is through the support of as many voices as possible. Communities need to ensure that their message — that they need help and the children they serve need help — is heard loud and clear. We need to rally around local and national businesses and solicit their help as well. We need to establish a communication pipeline to our community, as well as with district employees. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that our educational system doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Big changes are around the corner, as private industry and political influences look to control our schools, what they teach and how they teach it. All I can say to my friends out there is to speak now or forever hold your peace. If we don’t start the “The Great Conversation” today, eventually it will be too late.