Commentary by Cesar A. Muedas
Happy New School Year, that is. Our children in the MNPS system go back to school tomorrow. Best wishes to all of them!
As adults, we tend to speak about change and improvement in our schools in terms that are reasoned, informed and no less impassioned. We may analyze, criticize or simply vent opinions and perceptions of a system that can and should be made better. We may be partial in our judgments – and deservedly so – or may show low tolerance towards flaws and deficiencies in service (Education) and service providers (Educators and Administrators). We fund our schools through our property taxes and want to see that investment pay a sensible and lasting return. To varying degrees, we may recall distinct details of our school days and quickly, too, we give way to comparing such time of simplicity with the stressful and demanding reality of being a grown-up and behaving as such in the Nashville of 2008.
As they start a new academic year tomorrow, our children will be going to school to live change, to discover reason, to absorb information, to cultivate a passion for learning; all that change with the hope (everyone's hope - certainly) that another year of education will translate into improvement in each of their lives. Hope alone, however, will have the shelf life of a milk carton if not connected to the fulfillment of duties and responsibilities by every stakeholder.
Before labeling the personality type, the behavioral tendencies, or the learning style of any children, let's start by asking ourselves: what is my role in public education? - and – what am I consistently and effectively going to do to assist my school? Defining any role may be quite straightforward, we all know about job descriptions and performance evaluations in the “grown-up world”. I challenge you, though, to be equally explicit about identifying which school is YOUR SCHOOL, and why, and how you will maximize your involvement in it. No excuses, please. Unrestricted civic involvement is indispensable to improve our schools. Time, talent or treasure; pick anyone (or combination of more than one) of those and step up to the plate. There are more than 72,000 good reasons why we must act decisively and urgently. At very different times (indeed, in very different times) in the past each of us was one of those 72,000 children; of course of different races, income levels, nationalities and creeds, and living or surviving our own challenges. But today, each and all of us can clearly do something substantial that our children cannot: At every level, every day, we make decisions that change the present and future of Nashville, and we make them using resources and abiding to laws to which only adults have access and commitment. No excuses, please. The passing of time is irreversible and so are the consequences of failing to educate all of our children.
If not us, who?; if not now, when?... And, again, Happy New Year!