American Education: Can we Trust the System?

Yesterday, I got the chance to spend time with a few old friends.  Among them were Stoney Sellars and Howard Haworth-two incredible guys from whom I have learned a lot.  I was with them to seek some important advice.  Both are strong proponents of Public Education.  Both get why/how the acceleration of performance in American Education is critical to not only our prosperity, but also to our survival as a Nation.

In both conversations, the issue of trust came up.  Can we trust the system?  Can we trust the data coming from the system? Can we trust that superintendents, school boards, teachers, and principals will make the right decisions for the right reasons at the right times for children?  Note that these gentlemen are terrific proponents of the school system and of the state where they live.  Both are successful businessmen with strong civic leadership records as well.  These guys are experienced champions of “the system”.

After my cumulative reflections from the conversations, Howard mentioned 3 guiding principles which resonate for me in putting into action what both Stoney and Howard suggested (separately): Candor, Clarity, and Context.

Candor: for the system to build and accumulate trust, the truth must be told-always and in a timely fashion

Clarity:  especially when sharing performance data, providing clear, concise, and readily transparent information-must be achieved in every conversation

Context: when articulating candor and clarity, providing the context and relating that context to bigger and smaller pictures when necessary.

Both Stoney and Howard have long been gifted at boiling down rhetoric and wisdom into concise points.  These 3 Cs hit home for me.

So whether your “system” is a big complex school system (such as Charlotte Mecklenburg, where Stoney and Howard live) or a small network of schools (Distinctive Schools in Chicago comes to mind for me) continually developing, building, and accumulating trust is something we must do-especially if we want our stakeholders to support and champion our work.

Great day yesterday.  From two additional friends, I learned some other lessons, and I will share those soon.



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