cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Steve Snodgrass

I’m not an alarmist.  In fact, usually people would use the word optimist to describe me.  Early in my career the words naive and idealist were even tossed about.  So how did my blog post land with this title?

Living in Indiana, education recently has been in the news quite a bit–and not always for great reasons.  I’m sure you’ve heard about the Tony Bennett scandal, how educational policy is made in Indiana, and even how Indiana is legislating around their elected State School Superintendent.  This doesn’t even touch what we are doing with vouchers and the equality of where public dollars are going to provide education for students.

Today I was with a group of school superintendents discussing where we are headed in Indiana in the public school system.  It was not an optimistic outlook.  While everyone at that table would agree that we need reform, there was great concern with where we are headed as a state.

This is not to say all change in public education has been bad.  In my career I have seen change that I wholeheartedly support.

  • I am right on board with the idea of holding schools/districts accountable for student growth.  Absolutely!  Sign me up!
  • I am right on board with making sure that every student is making growth, and tracking that data.  Absolutely!  Sign me up!
  • I am right on board with making sure that we are meeting the needs of learners–including preparing them to be successful beyond our school walls.  Absolutely!  Sign me up!
  • I am right on board with leveling the playing field so that funding is not based on the capacity of the community to generate dollars for schools.   All students should have access to a high quality education.  Absolutely!  Sign me up!

Where I am struggling is when we:

  • Don’t have level playing fields.  This is seen when charter schools are given advantages not afforded to other public schools.  Not only have loans been forgiven to Charter Schools and not public schools, but also when we look at how schools are funded.
  • Decisions are made and educational leaders find out about them after the fact.  I would at least like the chance to make my case or be part of the conversation rather than learning of the discussion after the decision was made.
  • Aren’t part of the solution or even invited to the conversation.  As one who spends time immersing myself in making decisions that are good for kids and in learning how best to meet the needs of students–I feel like I have something to offer in educational reform.  And I’m not the only one!  There are lots of highly intelligent educators chomping at the bit to be part of the solution.

The whole reason I decided to venture into the world of educational leadership was so that I could make a difference.  I have never been one to sit on the sidelines and bemoan my state in life.  No way!  I want to be in the game.  And that’s where I find myself today–wanting to be in the game.   I will not be content to sit on the sidelines and watch the future of public education unfold before my eyes–I want to be part of building that future.   Our kids are that important.

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.” -John F. Kennedy

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