Working Together for Kids: 2011-2012 School Year
Message from the Executive Director
Just as “a house in not a home,” a building is not a school. On September 6th, over 2,000 Newark public school children returned to 13 schools sharing space on 7 district campuses. Beyond speculating on the whys, and hows, it is different and anything different takes some adjustment that has little to do with a value judgment.
Newark has 39,440 children to educate and the school district owns and operates more than enough buildings to educate them. Effectively and efficiently organizing to educate large numbers of children was not always facilitated by something called a school district. While it may be hard to imagine, people were remarkably resistant to “school districts” when they first emerged.
It could be argued that today’s movement toward small, autonomous schools, linked by and held accountable to common high standards, is the more traditional approach in that it is a throwback to the days when small, individual schools were operated by communities throughout the country and linked together and held accountable by affiliations such as the “Southern Federation of Accredited Public Schools.”
Of all the approaches to teaching and learning and contemporary ways to “organize for learning,” the one thing everyone agrees on is that there is no silver bullet- no one quick, easy, universally applicable approach to educating diverse learners for success in a rapidly changing, complicated, interdependent world.
With all that is taking place in the name of education reform, from enhancements in curriculum, and increases in professional development, to implementing hiring practices and protocols designed to recruit, and retain high performing teachers and leaders, long term success will depend on having the courage to keep putting what is best for children first.
We are standing firm in support of children -- our only constituents. We know that doing so involves some risk, and some tolerance for the heat that emerges from maintaining a laser-like focus on the academic achievement of children. What is different now than before? The voices are aligned in support of a student-focused education system (very different from a district focused education system), and are communicating clearly and beginning to harmonize around big ideas and thoughtful implementation strategies.
All of us at the Trust are honored to be a part of the chorus, and humbled by the responsibility to “get it right” for all the children who are watching and listening.