As I continue on my Bowflex journey—I’m in week 2—I found myself again leaning on my Governor to to get me through a work out. This time, instead of it being her annual State of the State address, it was a rare visit to the television studio as a guest Dan Yorke State of Mind. And while Yorke did ask her about what she said in her address about the $ 1 billion investment in schools, there was still no discussion of student outcomes. She did, however, make it clear that the billion dollars would only get us to the bare minimum standard of warm safe and dry. She also raised the very true (and appalling) truth about what our schools lack and she specifically cited science labs and 21st century wiring. And she’s right. Hard to talk about STEAM and personalized learning when in the next breath we must concede that we aren’t prepared for either in far too many of our schools. And not surprisingly, our poorest communities are the ones most lacking though she is right to highlight that we have big facilities problems in our wealthiest (and whitest) communities too.
It is my hope that the conversations will continue to go deeper on both school facilities and student outcomes. We need to be honest about our student absenteeism, our teacher absenteeism, and our performance on annual exams. And we need to keep the Governor and her team’s feet to the fire on their third grade reading promise in September of 2016.
Today, I’m drawing a line in the sand and setting a clear goal for Rhode Island: By 2025, when the kids who were born this year reach third grade, three out of four will be reading at grade level…” -Governor Gina Raimondo
All of us—parents, students, educators, lawmakers, and community and business leaders—need to do whatever we can to keep education conversations top of mind and on the front burner. Last night in Atlanta, our Nigerian cab driver said “education is everything.” We’d be wise to remember his words as we make decisions about our priorities, our future, and our children.