Schools Will Change

One thing is certain to even the most casual observer of schools and education. Schools are going to change. The past 10 to 15 years of reform will pale in comparison to the next 10 to 15 years. One challenge facing every community in America (the world really) is how to keep daily operations running smoothly and prepare for the future. It’s challenge we must embrace.

Van Schoales, an education program officer with the Piton Foundation and former public school teacher and principle, wrote a provocative editorial in the August 18 edition of the Denver Post. It was accompanied by an article written by Tony Lewis of the Donnell-Kay Foundation.

Here is an excerpt from the Schoales article:

The design of classrooms, daily schedules, the nine-month school calendar, age-based promotion and the role of adults remains mostly fixed. We built a system 100 years ago that was designed to educate a few for college and send the rest to low-skill, middle class jobs.

And, the conclusion from the Lewis article:

Students, teachers, principals, parents, business leaders, foundations, and the greater Denver community must support the district as it enacts real and meaningful change. As a district and as a community, we need to say, "We can do better."

What I find useful about these types of articles is that they can help spur constructive dialogue in the community – if we resist the temptation to shout each other down and focus on exploring the ideas.

Constructive dialogue is essential because that’s how we are able to set directions and muster the political will for change. And, as Mr. Lewis notes about Denver (which applies in the St. Vrain Valley), change is the community’s business.

So, let’s explore.

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