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Editorial: School change – Keep momentum going

Let’s pass the hat to send local teachers and principals to Orlando this June ó not to see Mickey Mouse, but to find out what works in the top schools in the country.
Dr. Willard Daggett referred to the June 22-25 conference over and over during the recent Education Summit at Catawba College. An educator and consultant, Daggett has an interest in the 16th Annual Model Schools Conference. It’s organized by the organization he heads, the International Center for Leadership in Education in New York. But the conference is not a one-man show. The program includes reports on schools at all grade levels “that are highly successful at providing every student with a rigorous and relevant education” ó as identified by Daggett and others with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These would be the “random acts of success” that Daggett talks about, the rare schools that break out of school-system ruts and reach students with different methods.
Daggett’s talk to educators and community leaders had an element of fear factor. He warned about technology that changes at warp speed and nations that are catching on faster than the United States. Young people stay on the cutting edge of that change ó not because they learn about it at school, but because they’re teaching themselves. Schools cannot keep up.
If Daggett scared some of the teachers, that might be a good thing. The Rowan Partners for Education group that sponsored the summit wants to shake up the status quo. If all went well with the summit, a great many of the educators in the audience came away with a renewed sense of urgency about preparing students for jobs that might not even exist today ó good jobs in a fast-paced global economy.
Now, how can the community support that urgency and keep the momentum going? Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom has taken a good step by identifying a handful of teachers to create “21st century classrooms” ó equipping them with the latest technology and training to make a quantum leap in instruction. Rowan-Salisbury can’t do it systemwide all at once. Even if the system had the money, new computers and gizmos are useless if the teachers who receive them haven’t embraced change.
Kudos to Rowan Partners for Education for holding the summit and challenging the community. The group will follow up with a public workshop in April. Awareness is growing ó and with it, the acceptance of change.

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