Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Riding the Rails with Teddy Roosevelt

Today I’m revisiting some thoughts, such as they were, from over a half decade ago. I’m not sure what to say about how little things have seemed to change.

Because we've spent so many years struggling to manage economic development the way a horse runs, looking no more than one footfall in advance of where we are, we've allowed ourselves to be managed by events rather than mastering them. Collateral damage in our continued inability to enhance revenue streams and increase the Grand List has been the death by degrees of many of the school enrichment initiatives some of our older children had when they were students.

Saying “we should do more with less” sounds fine in theory but can only go so far in real life. Quite simply, the limitless possibilities a quality education is supposed to provide every child at every desk in every school have been sharply reduced. We are a city sending children in the primary grades into schools that lack the tools and talent to enable them to fully succeed, and it's not going to get better unless we do.

This isn't going to be a tough year for our children--this is another year in what will be a tough life. As Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel write in 21st Century Skills "(o)ur current Knowledge Age is quickly giving way to an Innovation Age, where the ability to solve problems in new ways...and invent entirely new industries will all be highly prized."

But if our children are going to be the wave creating new ideas and offering fresh solutions to local and global problems, we need to prepare them better than we're doing and better than we're able, at least right now. We need to rethink how we "do" school if we are to help our children become successful in the Brave New World Order with which so many of us have had problems. That's why the Board of Education should work with the City Council to redefine our schools and teachers’ relationships with our children and our community.

We’ve talked about the roles and relationships for what seems like forever but now is, in the fullest sense of the word the moment for doing. This isn’t just a Board of Education problem, or a City Council concern. We are talking about our children, all of our children. It’s on us.

As is so often the case, there are no quick fixes, no drive-by solutions or instant corrections--right now, those whom we've elected to leadership are finding out what they don't know, before they can start to craft a new approach and partner with all us of across the community, and beyond, to provide our children with the greatest of all gifts, a brighter future.

If you think because you don't have school-age children, you have no stake in this effort, this would be the moment to rethink that assumption. The time to question everything will be here in a moment; brace for impact.
-bill kenny

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