Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Washington State's Dream Team Storytelling Visit

This morning I am thinking about yesterday's great experience, a visit to one of deputy public school superintendent Erin Jone's wonderful Dream Team meetings down in Tacoma, held in a room provided by community-committed Evergreen State College, under the great leadership of Dr. Artie Young...and it all felt just like one big global family... though some newer immigrant community stakeholders were still not a part of this...something they all needed to do further work on.  When I got there, all the folks in the room were already buzzing about their passion for making public schools better for all children, not just for some...and in their own special deeply personal, committed way.

The failure of public school systems to provide a quality education is a huge issue that's been festering for a long, long time, like a huge fire-breathing dragon now terrorizing urban, suburban, and rural countrysides and now more lethal than ever, fueled by the economic crisis and budgetary shortfalls. It feels like the government in its anxiety to cut cost... has all gone mad ...even to the point of stepping on the rights of voters to elect and trust in their own elected official Superintendent of Public Instruction  Randy Dorn. They are talking about putting public instruction under the governor up to cut costs and help shore up a huge budget deficit, which is their short-term fiscal objective. 

The longer term issue ...and objective.. however has to do with improving economic competitiveness, so that Washington State and the U.S. can compete more favorably in a now global marketplace and a now 21st century world.. Talking about this now has to be more than mere lip service. Think about it. e.g. if we can all make more money, then government can enjoy a bigger tax base, but this is not going to happen if fixing public education is not invested in NOW and our students can't compete for jobs that demand a college or technical school education. Education has gotten so bad in this state...and around the country... that even the Army won't take people who can't read and write and do basic math.

So that's at least the beginning of the story....but how will it all play out, and what can we do now in a 21st century world that could help us all slay the dragon? When I was there visiting, I suggested several things... one of which was to leverage the power of the new television for educational innovation so that we can get to the happy ending....and wow did folks in the room pick up on that idea.  There was also some excellent global communications that went on communicating with an online math tudoring services provider...with the presenter "virtually present"... all the way in India....bringing home the point I was trying to make earlier that morning about the value of "virtualizing" physical world meetings. (Step One.)

Now after experiencing the goodwill and brilliance of all these folks, my own feeling is that our own creativity, our own innovation, our own humanity and our own bravery are the only thing left that can  save us now...but after experiencing these folks doing their thing...its really the only thing we really need to drive more support for fresh new directions in education. We just need to get the word out about the fine work they are already doing..and what I do with affordable technology can help do that.

Re-thinking education... and using affordable television and web conferencing... is just part of my strategy for Walking Through The Virtual Door ...See my NWC Overview on YouTube for more details...about what "The Walk" entails...and let's connect if you have some of your own innovative ideas about how to slay the dragon. 425-780-6872.

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