An Important Initiative in Ohio
This past Friday, something really important happened in Ohio. On November 21, sixty superintendents met in Columbus to discuss an initiative that I believe will prove to be historically significant for the children who attend Ohio’s public schools. The initiative is to provide citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy, and it is being led by a coalition of superintendents from 29 school districts in the Buckeye State. While I will be contacting all of the meeting participants to gain additional insight into the impact of what was discussed, this is my initial takeaway from what occurred. First, I think that Friday’s discussion is ultimately going to make a significant difference for our children. By giving citizens a stronger voice in determining education policy, they will be able to address with Ohio’s education policymakers the fact that our children are being over tested, our teachers are physically exhausted and emotionally demoralized, and our tax dollars are being diverted to the corporate sector to replace our public schools with a privately managed, free-market system of education. Second, the meeting validated the hard work of this superintendent-led coalition and has given the initiative positive energy to continue moving forward. Throughout the day, the mood was highly focused and resolute. My sense is that many, if not most, of the superintendents who were in the room that day clearly understand that nothing is going to change for our public schools until the American people become aware of how education reform is impacting our children and their teachers. Third, as the saying goes, when eating an elephant, you can’t eat it all at once. You’ve got to do it one small bite at a time. One of the initial challenges facing these superintendents is how to begin a conversation about education reform and our public schools that is this broad in scope and magnitude. As a first step, a number of superintendents are starting it with their school district leadership teams. In addition to utilizing the “Rise Above the Mark” education documentary produced by West Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Rocky Killion, they are conducting book discussions of America’s Schools at a Turning Point: And how we THE PEOPLE can help shape their future. Finally, one superintendent summed up what most of us were thinking when she said, “We must let our communities know about what is happening to our schools because they are the foundation of our democracy and shared sense of culture.” Unquestionably, there is a lot at stake right now for both our public schools and our nation. I will closely follow the progress of this important statewide initiative in Ohio and report on it on this blog.