Doors open, doors close.
Two Roads Diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In the wake of massive funding cuts here in New Jersey, school districts, including mine, are reeling. In my district alone, our submitted budget included the cut of twenty-four teachers, guidance counselors in both of our elementary buildings and our middle school, four out of six Vice Principals, all sports and extra-curricular activities district-wide, and everyone in my department except the head of the department.
I am not the head.
The way things work in New Jersey, nothing will officially shake out until either late April or early May, but the foundation of public education is being abruptly shaken, as are those employed in schools throughout the state. The last few weeks have brought on a sudden sense of urgency about the directions many of us will take, and the next few weeks will surely be filled with the same. But for right now, I am not worried.
Without sounding self-serving or prognostic, I knew this was coming. And I think you did too.
Those of you who read the same books and articles as I do, and spend time talking about what you think about those books and articles, have long predicted the radical changes underfoot in American public education. What is disconcerting is that these disruptive changes, and I do believe what is happening in New Jersey is the beginning of this radical change, are not coming from the place we thought they would come from. These are the pressures we thought we’d be getting.
They are rising out of fiscal issues rather than fancy technological innovations or student revolt. They are coming from anti-union advocates and property tax reformers. What a nice bow it would put on all of our work over the last however many years to have what Christiansen and Godin have claimed was on the way attributed to cutting edge technology and the cutting-edge pedagogy to go along with it. It’s just not going to be the case.
Instead, what I think we are going to get is a whole lot of “good enough” solutions that will arise, much like we did in other areas that were affected by disruptive innovations. I mean, c’mon, what are all of these talented teacher-folk (and possibly curriculum-folk) going to do with themselves?
Stay tuned for that answer, because it’s going to be good.