Mark,

Thank you for your response, and all of your writing.

I think, like many of us, I rock back and forth between hope and despair. I am lucky to have been recruited in to a system committed to change, and yet, despite all we do, we still know that children elude us.

Tonight our Board of Education will be thinking “High School 2022" — this is the first graduating class that needs to meet Virginia’s much more reality-friendly expectations — in other words, change in time for this year’s 7th graders to arrive in 9th grade. As part of this — of our commitment to “All Means All” — we asked our school board to visit — in person or virtually — almost a dozen radically different schools, in the US and out, to see how others are facing up to these challenges. It is this attempt at both cross-pollination and shattering the “We can’t do that” attitude, that we hope will empower us.

Added to what we’ve done so far — our Multiage elementary schools, our co-curricular ninth grade teams, our reimagined learning spaces, our wide open libraries — this is my hope: We’re a median-sized, median-funded, highly diverse public school system, and maybe we can be a model.

On the other side, I think back to when I was writing The Drool Room, and I was describing everything that could go wrong in a school. There is so much that can go wrong, and my frustration in writing that book was the discovery that there were very few villains — even in an educational horror story.

But maybe that’s the hope as well. There aren’t many villains. There are just people that we need to work with.

  • Ira Socol

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