In the early days of our nation, the majority of Americans received their education at home. Teaching was done by the parents or a private tutor if they were fortunate enough to afford one. The Puritans were the first to identify the need for a public education and established schools across New England. After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson argued to build an educational system funded by taxpayer dollars, but it wasn’t until 1852 when the first compulsory education laws were passed in Massachusetts, which by 1918 lead to every American child being required to attend public schools.
The responsibility of governing public schools was separated from the city council early on in the history of education. As the demand for public education began to increase, selectmen separated educational governance from city governance and appointed committees in each town to govern local school systems. In 1837, Massachusetts established the first State Board of Education, though the authority remained at the local level as many were distrustful of the state’s ability to represent local interests. The Massachusetts model of governing education spread throughout the colonies and its separation from city council has persisted into the present day.
On the surface this would seem to be an ideal model for many of the challenges we face as a nation (including the compulsory healthcare laws which coincidentally originated in Massachusetts). A National Network of State Boards of Education whose authority rests in the hands of local School Boards elected by the community. But when you dig a little deeper into the disconnect between the city and the schools, you see more than a separation of governance. You see the silos which Lori Kershner identified on her website which calls for “better cooperation between the city and the schools.”
Earlier this year, the San Carlos School Board approved a Strategic Plan for a 21st Century Educational System. The plan was the result of a two-year collaboration between the School Board and the residents of San Carlos, California. “This plan is written in the context of truly re-thinking how public education should be structured in the 21st century,” said Tom Keating, Director of Instruction and Educational Technology. “We are no longer constrained by 19th century limitations on the who, what, where, when, and how we educate our children.”
The goal of the San Carlos Strategic Plan is to develop “a project-based, technology-infused approach to teaching and learning, featuring real-world, meaningful design challenges.” Instead of posing hypothetical stories to illustrate concepts, students will be challenged to solve problems in their community. By fostering these relationships, educators are not only providing real-world examples. They are teaching our children how to positively contribute to the community at large, including local businesses alongside their government.
Lori Kershner has called for “quarterly joint meetings between the city, township and school board” on her website. In order to truly connect the goal of public education to serve our community, we need a strategic plan much like San Carlos which brings our local representatives together with parents, educators, and businesses to not simply build a 21st Century Education System, but a 21st Century City of Springboro which enables each and every constituent and taxpayer to grow and prosper.