Jamie Vollmer, author of “Schools Can't Do It Alone”, delivered a powerful and thought provoking keynote address this morning. He reminded the audience that we can't make any change, without first changing the culture. Change requires a clearly articulated vision of what we need from our public school system. Jamie brought Thomas Jefferson into the conversation to drive home his point.
Thomas Jefferson, via the power of technology, reminded us of his contributions to the public school system. Vollmer added that in 1785, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of public schools was to “rake the genius from the rubbish annually.” Talk about a harsh system of sorting and selecting. “Genius you go here, but you, go out with the rubbish.” Wow! Thankfully we no longer share Jefferson's vision of public education, do we? After all, isn't an educated citizenry the only way to ensure a lasting democracy? Oh, wait a minute, considering the current rhetoric that public schools should be privatized, and that resources should be redirected away from public schools to support private ventures, perhaps we have not moved as far as we might have thought! “Those with the financial means for quality education go here. Those without financial resources, well out you go!”
One certainty, change is needed in our collective culture, if we want to ensure our public schools survive and thrive. Vollmer encouraged us to mobilize; create a new culture of positive support; disregard alternative facts; ensure true local control. Public schools aren't in the business of sorting and selecting our students. We educate everyone. The purpose of public schools today (and tomorrow) is to prepare our students to work in a knowledge driven economy. Success of our new culture will be realized when the value of public schools is universally known as the foundation of our strong democracy growing economy.
Remember, “Schools Can't Do It Alone,” and I will add “It's Up to Us!”