“We have to provide funding to back up the mandates.”

Chris Brown, a 30-year veteran of the Southwest Local School District in Ohio, talks with Carole about the value of local control, the importance of public education, the differences between schools and businesses, and the impact of adding more and more requirements to school curricula.

In a conversation that reflects on the changes in society and society’s views of public education over the past 3 decades, Chris Brown provides valuable insight to what has changed for the good and what needs to be improved.  As Chris looks back on the changes she’s experienced, she sees a direct correlation to how we treat consumer goods and how we treat our kids.

“This is a throwaway society. You buy a television and if it isn’t working, you don’t get it worked on like we used to, you just throw it away and get a new one. And unfortunately, in some instances, I see this happening with our kids.”

The mobile nature of today’s society — parents moving often for work, for life upgrades, for changes in the family dynamic, etc. — impacts children in a substantial way regardless of our resilient we think they are. It forces them to “recreate their culture” which can negatively impact their social development which in turn can be detrimental to their academic progress.

Chris also talks about the impact that public policy and budgets has on the every day work of educators. She argues that forcing educators to adjust their educational plan every time there is a new state budget or government is not a fair request. There have been many times when new requirements have been handed down that “may be good ideas on paper” but don’t provide the resources, funding or time to create a strategy to implement them. “We have to provide funding to back up the mandates.”

Chris’s greatest wish for education is to find a way to create a total commitment from parents, the community and legislators to support public education. This will require teachers & administrators to stand up for themselves and for their students and for everyone to work together to create realistic goals and realistic solutions that best serve the diverse population that makes up public education.

This leads to a natural question for Chris… why is she so passionate about public education?

“Anybody can go through the system and be successful no matter what your background. If we truly believe what sets us apart (in the US) is that ‘everone has a chance’, then public education is where you have that chance… it is a place where you are going to interact with people from different backgrounds… and it reflects truly what America is.”

Book recommendation:
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins