Friday, November 21, 2014

Washington D.C. Visit

I had the privilege of being invited along with over a hundred superintendents nationwide to a White House sponsored event based on what they called a "Future Ready" initiative.  The President's goal is to have 99% of all school districts "Future Ready" in five years.  This is a tall undertaking, but I was emboldened not only by my colleagues who have that cutting edge mindset, but I was also sold by the President's and his staff's commitment to make this happen.

I appreciated and was encouraged by the "like-mindedness" that existed among all of us in the one-day session as we heard from the President's top advisors as well as staff members in the Department of Education.  I would have to say these people "get it."  I mean they also see the urgency that we have been discussing in our school district for the last 10 years.  That is, the opportunities that exist for our students with the proper use of technology is no longer a "get to" as much as it is a "have to."  In other words, "students are at a disadvantage" as so aptly put by Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in his introduction of the President.  He did an excellent job of articulating that students are at a severe disadvantage if we limit their learning to within the school hours only.  The world is changing dramatically, and kids are hurt when they do not have the tools to learn and adapt with it.

I am a firm believer the reason many of our schools have fallen behind in the use of technology is due to this lack of urgency.  After all, why go to the expense and effort "with every thing else we have to do?"  If that is the perspective, and if we see providing access to the world using technology as an "also ran," it probably will not happen.  Without vision and purpose, it will not happen.  In contrast, I was impressed on how staff members and colleagues both articulated the "why" behind the urgency.  I am reminded by leaders at the summit and colleagues that transformation to digital learning is a moral imperative.  The best tools and the best environment for learning is a non-starter, and just because we fail to see that does not make it right.  The Summit powerfully reminds us all of our vision and purpose.  

Here is a video that supports this:

I am very grateful for the heartfelt, sincere, dedicated message and direction we received that day from the administration.  The goal is a lofty one, but my colleagues and I are used to lofty goals, and I find that inspiring.  If there is one thing we can do a better job with it is to articulate the message that our kids need the best tools and the most optimum learning culture that gives them the opportunity to compete with students on an international level.

My commitment coming from this experience is to do a better job of sharing this urgency, articulating the "why" behind this move to more powerful learning using technology and compelling the vision in making it happen both in our district and with colleagues.

Each superintendent, along with 1,100 other superintendents, have signed a document called the Future Ready Pledge.  Each of us made a commitment to continue the work in our districts even at a greater level with a commitment to work with other districts to help us all get to the goals on that pledge.

See the pledge below: