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The Right Note: Doing the Tough Job

by Mark Kelly August 3, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ever been in your neighborhood grocery store and had to explain to a parent why their child will be switching schools next year because you voted to move an invisible boundary? If you have, you probably are, or were, on the school board.

Parents are, rightly, protective of their kids. Decisions about what happens in our schools is taken seriously, and changes can impact people on a very personal level.

It may be the job of the school board member to make those decisions, but it is not always an easy one. And on the tough calls, you almost certainly will be faced with heated dissent which may not be confined to the board room.

Right now, Arlington is in the painful process of redrawing its school boundaries and making difficult decisions on locating new schools. But hopefully our board members, parents and the community at large are looking well beyond seats for students.

What goes on inside the classroom is far more important than how old that classroom is or which school building it is in.

Our American education system is designed on a foundation from over half-century ago, built to prepare kids for an economy that is far in the rear view mirror.

We need elected leaders who are thinking about preparing kids in a way that does not just conform to the top-down models of the past. And, we should never make it a default position that a traditional four year college program is the next step for every student.

There are positive signs. Arlington Tech represents a new approach for high school students. The year-old school is encouraging students to tackle real world problem solving skills while integrating core curriculum.

We can and should get beyond infrastructure decisions and continue to look for new approaches to meet the needs of our student population. We have the resources here in Arlington to be a leader in the education system of the future.

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