No one loves a happy ending more than me. Today was a personal once-in-a-lifetime movie moment: I welcomed President Obama to Manor New Technology High School. Before the president spent 45 minutes with students showing off Project Based Learning, I got to engage in a conversation with him about the kind of innovation taking place in 100+ public school districts across New Tech Network.
It was no accident that Manor was selected for its transformative educational methods and focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The faculty and founding principal Steve Zipkes epitomize the persistence, vision and creativity needed to re-imagine a high school that truly prepares learners to be the innovators of tomorrow. They did not achieve this remarkable success on their own or overnight.
At New Tech schools, we have found a way to close the achievement gap regardless of whether students reside in urban, suburban, rural or underserved areas. Our 2013 Student Outcomes Report offers compelling evidence that the vision we have to transform schools within public school districts is being realized.
The President said about Manor New Tech, "Every day this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real-world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond. You're doing things a little differently around here than a lot of high schools, and it's working." He went on to say: "We also have to make sure we help every student get the skills like they do here at Manor New Tech to compete in a high tech economy."
Back to my fervent hope for a happy ending. The President today called again for support for the $300 Million High School Redesign he proposed in the State of the Union speech. He also reiterated that he wants to see universal access to quality public pre-school and to make college more affordable. For my happy ending to come true, three things have to happen. Congress and the White House have to agree on the best ways to invest in education innovation. State policy-makers and the business communities around this country have to come together to provide financial and material support in K-12 education innovation. And school district leaders need to move from asking, "should we innovate?" to "how do we find the funds to invest in innovation"? Should all three of these things happen, I will get my wish. And children everywhere will be able to experience the kind of education that enables them to thrive in ways we can't even imagine.
As President Obama said today, "Every young person in America deserves a world-class education."
I wholeheartedly agree. Let's do this and do it now.