When the COVID-19 pandemic is in our rearview mirror, what will the new normal look like? This a question many of us are asking ourselves. In Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, Nicholas Christakis addresses this important question. In his book, he discusses how the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will unfold in the coming years and predicts that at the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024 we will enter the “post-pandemic period” where something similar to the roaring ‘20s will likely occur. If he is correct and the post-pandemic period will usher in a new era of revitalization and change, the time to begin discussing what the “new normal” should look like is now.
This week, the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network took an important step in expanding its statewide footprint. On Monday, the superintendents who have been leading an initiative (in 10 districts) to give their staff and community a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy hosted a Zoom meeting with other superintendents in their area to learn about OPSAN’s work. Twenty-three districts were represented in Monday’s discussion. Follow up conversations will now be made to determine who would like to become part of the expansion of this grassroots movement.
As recent events in our nation’s Capitol begin to settle in, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are now witnessing a life-changing struggle over who we are as a nation. What’s more, the wake from this struggle will have a profound impact on our educational system. This is why the grassroots initiative of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network to give our local citizens a stronger voice in shaping education policy is so important.
It is difficult to come to grips with a problem that is lurking beneath the surface slowly eating away at our way of life. As a result of the shock over what occurred yesterday, that problem is now out in the open and can no longer be ignored. And with clarity comes hope that we can do something about it. While identifying what that something is may not be evident right now, it will become clear at some point down the road. There are no quick fixes to what we are facing.
For months, the debate about opening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic has centered on the question of whether they are safe. In a provocative article in The Atlantic, the author writes that the debate about school safety is no longer relevant: “Except in the few remaining regions with modest rates of viral spread, the transmission risk from and within schools is now beside the point. So many teachers and staff members are sick, quarantining, or have stepped down that many schools trying to remain open or to reopen just do not have the personnel available to do so well.”
In addition to being a retired superintendent of the Medina City Schools and an educational partner with the Kettering Foundation, Charlie Irish serves on the transition team for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network. In a recent conversation with Charlie, he posed a thought-provoking question that has important implications for OPSAN’s grassroots initiative to give Ohio’s citizens a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. His question was: If we take money out of the equation, what do we have to discuss with our state’s elected representatives? Unfortunately, the need for more money for our schools is often the sole focus of our discussions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a discussion with them that wasn’t only about money? I suspect it would take some preparation as they would likely be leery of our motives. Even then, it would likely feel strange since they aren’t used to this sort of interaction.
A report with important implications for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network (OPSAN) was published this month in BBC Worklife. The report’s major message is that embracing contradictory ideas may actually be the secret to creativity and leadership. The insights in this report highlight why it is so important that OPSAN be more than a mouthpiece for school leaders and supporters. To be truly effective, OPSAN must serve as a trusted forum for open and civil discussion among all citizens.
Yesterday, at its annual Capital Conference, the Ohio School Boards Association hosted a presentation of the grassroots movement being led by the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network to give our citizens a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. The introductory video that OPSAN created for the Conference gets to the heart of why this movement is so important. The second update is that everyone is invited to join State Representative John Patterson on Monday, November 16 at 6 p.m. in a livestreamed discussion of the Ohio Fair School Funding Plan. The link to participate in the discussion is http://bstntv.com/livestream.
This morning, The Washington Post indicates that President-elect Joe Biden plans to bolster our nation’s public schools through executive action and negotiations with Congress. Here is the link to that report.