Surfing trash television tonight, I accidentally landed on a rebroadcast of the School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s January 21 meeting. It’s the sort of thing that makes one long for TiVo.
The Commish was patting its collective back for updating SDP’s “Declaration of Education.” The way these people were carrying on, you’d have thought it was the other declaration. At one point, Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn actually attempted to compare the two.
I’d not heard of the Declaration of Education, which surprised me given the District’s usually crackerjack communications department. Curious, I went looking. And, I found it.
The thing that hit?
We believe all children can reach their learning potential and that the achievement gap can be eliminated.
Now, I had taken potential to be an ever-moving goal, furthered by each productive step one took toward it. I’ll never reach my potential because I’m always building on what I can be. I’ll always have more potential.
According to the Commish, though, we’re going to get kids a whole lot closer to self-actualization than Maslow ever expected. I wonder what that moment looks like, “Well, Johnny, I know you’re in sixth grade, but our tests show you’ve reached your learning potential. Scurry along, now. Good luck.”
What kind of interesting person tells people she’s reached her learning potential? “Yeah, I finished the latest Doris Kearns Goodwin and realized I’d reached my learning potential. It’s a shame too, I really enjoyed reading.”
I know this can be boiled down to semantics, and the easy counter-argument is that this really doesn’t matter. But that only saddens me more. This is our Declaration of Education – a document wherein we establish what we believe and want for the education of those entrusted to us. No better place exists for us to carefully craft a message to inspire and invigorate a sleeping profession.
Let the document read:
We believe all children can build upon their potential and achieve more than they ever dreamed possible.
If we’re making declarations, let’s not ignore the pursuit.