“A Golden Opportunity”

Over the week end, I spoke with my friend and colleague, Charlie Irish, about the impending roll out of the Ohio Department of Education’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Charlie, who served as superintendent for the Medina City School for 13 years and currently works on research initiatives with the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, had an interesting take on the ODE roll out:

When I was a superintendent, we had a community member who would regularly publish his criticisms of our schools.  I took most of it with a grain of salt because I saw critique as coming with the territory of being a superintendent.  However, there was one term that he regularly used that would always cause me to bristle.  He would refer to our local schools as “government schools.”  I absolutely hated that because I felt it disparaged our schools and community.  Even worse, it made me feel as though I was seen as just another bureaucrat.  However, now that I’m out of the day-to-day task of trying to protect the reputation of a school system, I think that in a very real sense – with student testing and other aspects of the education reform movement on steroids – our schools have, in fact, been turning into government schools.  More and more, people refer to public schools as “the schools,” not “our schools.”  They’ve been left on the sidelines with little or no belief that they have a role in them anymore.  The only way we are going to make them “our community’s schools” again is to engage our citizens in meaningful discussions about what we want for our schools.  With the release of ODE’s ESSA plan on the horizon, we have a golden opportunity to begin taking back our local public schools.

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