Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Education Candidate? Rethink Issues - Collaborate on Visions
By Barbara Bray    February 28, 2008 -- 10:02 AM

USA Today shared an opinion by Wendy Purlefoy about which one of the candidates is really the education candidate. She lists real issues that need to be considered including:

....candidates should answer these five questions:

  1. Fifteen percent of our nation's schools are overcrowded. As a result, teachers say they spend an inordinate amount of time policing classrooms. Do you have a plan for relieving this overcrowding?
  2. How will you ensure that children attend schools that are places of teaching and learning, not violence and crime?
  3. Teacher recruitment, retention and quality are suffering. How will you work to make teaching a more attractive career?
  4. A child who cannot read or do math at grade level has little hope of finishing high school. What will you do to make sure children master all subjects at grade level?
  5. What will you do to persuade more adults to become more involved in the education of their community's children?
Politics aside - each issue the candidate's address impacts everyone. The economy is affecting more than people who are losing their jobs and homes,  it looks really clear that we are heading for a recession. If you lose your home, your job, and are not sure how you're going to even feed your family, you're not even thinking about school. You're not even sure what school your child could go to. You want the best for your child but times are tough.

I think we need to rethink how we think about all of the issues. If you are in the middle class whatever that means now, and have school children, you are impacted by the economy. Your school is losing funding and has to make serious cutbacks many that will affect your child's future. If you pull your child out of public school, you have to find a private school available and usually fund it out of your own pocket. Now let's say you or your spouse, if you are still married, may be affected by downsizing so one of you may either lose your job or have to work several jobs just to meet your bills. Costs for food and gas are all going up so your monthly expenses are above what you bring in so you are dipping into your savings. Then if your mortgage or any other fixed bills go up, you're in real trouble. You can't sell your home because of the mortgage crisis. Oh my goodness! This is getting scary.

For so many years we kind of floated by without seriously thinking that being in a war that costs billions might not affect us, our cities, our schools. Well, it does. This is going to be a time of sacrifice. Many of us are going to put up large purchases - maybe even small purchases. And then if we're not putting money back into the economy, it's like a catch 22 - then more jobs will be lost.

About 12 years ago I was part of Sharing the Vision, a planning group for the city of Oakland. Many of the goals developed then are working today. It needs to happen again because now the economy is affecting too many - crime is up - droput rates are the highest ever.

I think we need to start sharing the vision again - put together a collaborative site using the Internet and set up local vision collaboratives. Here's what I was thinking:
  • develop collaborative visioning projects around what is happening in your are
  • ause Google Earth to note where the economy is impacting different areas: schools closing, jobs downsizing, companies quitting or starting, etc.
  • create a social network for visioning with local chapters that have face-to-face meetups
  • invite students to tell their stories and dreams for their future
  • bring all leaders (business owners, superintendents, student leaders, etc.) together to share their visions and strategies for success
  • encourage on-site and online town hall meetings that allows everyone to voice their concerns and hopes
  • invite graduates and drop outs to tell their stories - what would they do different so children have hope, don't dropout, and are marketable.
  • create avenues for everyone to share so they feel they can make a difference - even those down in luck, in prison, in juvenile hall.
We need to bring back hope because we are going into a time where despair can bring us down so low. We need to work together now with politicians and local officials to assess how their area is going to make it, how they can embrace our most important asset, our children, and help them guarantee that they will be prepared for their future.

Categories: "Children" "Collaboration" "Community" "Future" "Problem Solving"

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