The members of the Christina School Board have taken a lot of heat over the last two weeks for their April 19 vote to step back from turnaround plans for schools in their district, which resulted in the state’s freezing of the district’s Race to the Top funds. Private and nonprofit groups, along with government officials publicly stated their disapproval, and my voice was among them. So the board’s unanimous decision to reverse its prior vote last Saturday demonstrated the district’s commitment to reform and for me, the power of our state to pull together.
While I disagreed with many of the views presented on April 19, I appreciate the fact that these board members took their roles seriously and responded the way they did. It’s this kind of commitment and passion that we want in those making decisions for our schools, with children’s lives in the balance and educators’ careers on the line.
This was the first dispute on how the state’s education reform plan will roll out, and it won’t be the last. Change inherently creates tension and disruption. If that tension did not exist, we likely wouldn’t be making progress. Our success in the long term depends on our collective ability to manage through conflict. We’ve done if before and we can do it again. As the work gets more difficult, my hope is that we stay focused on the issues, avoid the stereotypical battle lines, and keep moving forward.