To make needed changes to any system, or individual for that matter, often a significant emotional event needs to occur. The current economic situation of our state is that significant emotional event. Everyone has been affected by the economy. Schools are no different. We recently received a 10% across the board cut to state aid. This was over $260,o00 for Van Meter Schools. Many school districts in the state of Iowa are in even more challenging financial situations. This event will force schools to make a decision. They can either try to maintain as close as possible what they have always done, or they can use this situation to make changes to how they do business. Van Meter is taking the latter approach. We have a school board, administration, and teacher team committed to providing the best education possible for the students of Van Meter. That hasn't changed. What will change is what that system looks like.
The current educational system was founded on the premise that we needed to model our system like the factories we were preparing students for...early in the 20th century, over 100 years ago. Our society and our way of doing business in the U.S. has changed, but schools have not. It is often said that teaching is the one profession that a teacher from 100 years ago could walk into a school today and pick up where they left off. Imagine if doctors still performed surgeries like they did 100 years ago, ouch!
It is time for schools to meet the needs of students of today. To do this, we are going to have to:
- Be Innovative
- Think Critically
- Problem Solve
We are going to have to use the skills we expect our students to use to be successful in the world they will live in to create a educational system that is different from its current structure.
The current economic conditions will force dozens of school districts to consolidate, share, or dissolve. It is expected that in 3 years we will see 30-50 fewer school districts in the state of Iowa. Really for the first time in state history, there is a true competition for students. Schools with decreasing enrollments will have a difficult time surviving. We need to design a system that allows us to maintain our identity as a small school, but that can meet the needs of students in the 21st century. We are going to have to get better at what we are currently doing to provide an educational system that helps students find their passions, identifies their strengths, and develops the skill sets necessary for our graduates to be global, digital citizens that are prepared to THINK, LEAD, & SERVE in the 21st century.
It is an exciting time to be a part of such a forward thinking and innovative team. We will see changes in public education in the state of Iowa, and we feel that the model we create at Van Meter will be the cornerstone for other schools to replicate in years to come. Share your thoughts. I look forward to reading your comments.