If this is true, then it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Texas educational system! We are expecting lots and lots of gifts.
And, although there is much trepidation and worry over the most recent budget, assessment and accountability changes, they are not that unexpected.
Never before have there been so many rapid changes in the world as in the last decade. We have seen changes in the weather, the economy, communication, media, the work force and schools. We do everything differently now, I realize, as I read on my iPad, schedule meetings on my smartphone and attend those meetings via videoconferencing. If our educational systems are responsible for not merely keeping up with changes, but in fact preparing young people to be the agents of change, to prosper in the future, then we must embrace change.
The question becomes not whether or not we will change, but how best to do so.
Right now, education is in a state of flux. A lot of it is reactionary: Where there is over-spending, there must be belt-tightening; where there are gaps, there must be mending; where there is research, there must be implementation. And some of it is anticipatory: Students entering kindergarten now will retire in 2075, most from jobs that haven’t even been invented yet.
The whys are not as important as the gifts that will come with these changes: The value placed on people instead of programs; the advances our students will make when we try new things; the incredible personal and professional growth we may not have seen had we not been forced to do some things differently. In truth, why measure, research and assess any part of our lives if not for the purpose of change?
Administration, teachers and students statewide are faced with a new, more rigorous assessment system and a tougher accountability ratings system. College readiness standards have been implemented into TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) from second grade up, and with them, the focus in our classrooms has permanently shifted from what teachers know to what students can do. This requires more planning, more originality; it requires teachers to continue to learn to keep up with what must be taught and the best ways to teach it. Administrators must work harder than ever to ensure our students and schools are not swimming upstream, but are in fact the lead fish! There is no standing still.
But then, why would we want to?
The greatest achievements in the world’s history have been because of change. People fight and die for change. At Port Aransas ISD, we choose to be positive about it. No, things won’t look like they always have. But with a school board, administration and staff that are proactive and positive, perhaps they will look better.
In the end, change happens anyway. Our only choice is to be part of it, or be left behind. “When you are through changing, you are through.” (Bruce Barton)
We will be better than fine in the long run, and our students also will be, because all of us are committed not to weathering these changes, but to finding and treasuring the gifts that lie within them.
Sharon McKinney is principal of Port Aransas High School.