We Need Public Schools More Than Ever
Election season is over and as far as I am concerned, I say “thank goodness!” I don’t think my soul could have taken too many more weeks of name calling, truth bending, character assassinating, and divisive hate mongering that defined this election. Most folks I have talked to, no matter their party leanings, agree with me in that the negativity has unfortunately taken a toll on our nation. So now that it’s over, what’s next? One might be tempted to just pretend that the bitter campaigns didn’t happen; to rely on hope that everything will get better; to just try to go on with our lives as we leave the future in the hands of those who were the winners last Tuesday. I’m actually thinking the opposite. I am thinking that the work we do, the work of public education, just became more important than ever. That if there is any hope of making the next election cycle different, any hope of ensuring that all people are respected and respectful, public education has to once again step up to the plate.
Our students and our communities need public schools now more than ever. Our public schools have insisted and will continue to insist on civility, respect, inclusiveness and tolerance for ALL. Public schools must continue its mission of creating generations of citizens that understand these concepts to their core. Also, in my opinion, we must at least double our efforts to ensure that students develop critical thinking skills; that they can figure out the difference between facts, lies and opinions; that they become responsible consumers of information presented by social and traditional media; and that we read and learn before we think and speak “the truth”. We must continue our work in these areas. The election has made it clear that this is a national imperative.
As your superintendent, I promise to lead this effort. I will be meeting with our Great Falls legislative delegation on Thursday morning. At this meeting, I will share my desire to work with them during the 2017 Legislature. I will share our vision, beliefs and goals. I will remind them about the Montana Constitution and what it demands for public education. I will explain the resources we need in order to do the important work of public education. And I will let them know that as an organization we will be paying attention.
And that’s where you come in. I will not be able to advocate without your help. When January rolls around and the 2017 Montana Legislature convenes, you will be asked to share your reality, your needs and your voice. It is imperative that you do so. Our students and our communities need public schools now more than ever.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.