Twenty years ago when we started The George Lucas Educational Foundation, we thought it would be 10 years before the general public would understand that the education system was in serious need of fixing. Today, in the wake of new energy in Washington D.C., new focus in the educational and philanthropic communities, and with the recent release of the film Waiting for 'Superman', the nation is getting a better picture of what is wrong with public education in America. And people are finally talking about it.
It's time to have a conversation about what's right in our schools, what's working. And as we debate what to do to fix the problems, let's remember that there are successes in education every day we can emulate. In districts of every stripe and demographic make-up, educators are dedicating themselves to providing their students with a high quality 21st century education and using new technologies to make it happen. They are showing kids how to find and analyze information and how to creatively deploy their analyses to solve problems. These educators are beginning to reinvent the learning process, guiding students through rigorous, real-life projects that integrate core academic topics and personalize the learning experience based on a child's strengths and weaknesses. They are building confidence and ambition in children, by supporting them emotionally and providing a safe, engaging environment to learn. Most importantly, these innovative educators are creating a next generation of citizens with academic knowledge and problem solving abilities that will serve our country for years to come.
Are there enough of these teachers and principals? No. Will the work of fixing our schools and reinventing the learning process be long and arduous? Of course. But as we move on from the debate and get busy building a better way, let's remember that the solutions -- and the people who are implementing them -- are not far away. In fact, they are nearer than you think. This is what they look like:
For more information about what works in education, visit Edutopia.org.