Today, our district leaders and local dignitaries arrived in full force at Oxford Academy to recognize this innovation, and I was able to see first-hand the impact of his leadership. While I sat in the bleachers of the gym listening to Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, Congressman Alan Lowenthal, and Tom Torlakson, CA State Superintendent of Schools, celebrate the district’s impact on its community and students, I was reminded that education exists to not only prepare our kids for college and careers, but also to teach our kids that our job as educators is help children find their passion.
What good is an education without purpose?
The question as I see it:
- Is education serving our students or are our students serving education?
For the first time in many elections, our own LAUSD community has the opportunity for new perspective and fresh blood. We have the opportunity to elect someone from the outside to replace members of our entrenched good-old-boys club. When an opportunity arises to do so, it’s important to bring in the best:
- I offer experience from having taught for the past eight years at the #10 top high school in America,
- the #1 high school in CA, and
- the “most innovative district in CA” as just pointed out by the State Superintendent of Schools.
I was talking to my dad just a couple nights ago, and he described me as the “rich uncle from out of state”: still part of the family – in fact, the best the family has to offer – yet outside the gates of inbreeding.
This significance isn’t in-significant. A fresh, new, exciting perspective is just what our district needs to help our kids be the best they can be, rather than helping our district be the best it can be. I oftentimes find myself wondering if the tail is wagging the dog here in LAUSD. We seem to chase the accolades, rather than allowing the accolades to be a reflection of real learning and student success. In fact, I will argue the legacy of the current board is both the successes for what has been accomplished and the responsibility for what hasn’t.
Which leads me to today’s blog topic: “Lead to Serve.”
AUHSD began a new Student Service Foundation this school year where students obtain funding to make student-proposed service projects a reality. The Foundation awards grants to empower students in the district to make a difference in their communities. This offers the students real opportunities to give back, engage with their learning and focus on problem solving. This Foundation is Common Core at its core – creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication with a few other C’s thrown in for good measure: compassion, character, community and caring. This Foundation creates learning with purpose. This Foundation creates meaningful engagement with education. This Foundation has awarded its first grants to students who are creating community gardens, teaching literacy, and using STEM to study water conservation.
It’s time we stop to take a hard look at what we really celebrate in LAUSD. This can be a painful, tough process, but it is only with authentic, honest evaluation from “your rich uncle,” that we will walk away with empowerment.
- Are our kids becoming responsible, civic-minded leaders who serve for the good of humanity?
- Are our kids receiving an education that serves them, allowing them to develop passions that in turn nurture innovation to make life better for us all?
- Are our kids learning how to become global leaders and change makers?
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is … what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
So I ask: What are our kids doing for others?
Where in their LAUSD education are they learning that life doesn’t revolve around them, fundraising isn’t about what’s in it for them, and education isn’t just about knowing “stuff,” but about application and problem solving and creative thinking?
Let’s move beyond the status quo, stop “feeding the monster,” evaluate our School Board candidates on their own individual merits, and turn this district into one that graduates civic-minded young adults who live beyond themselves for the betterment of mankind.
It’s time for innovation. It’s time for education to start serving our kids. It’s time for a new "uncle" in town to lead.
The time is now.