Sputnik and Innovation
Last week President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, and here is a short excerpt from that speech:
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living.
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs -- from manufacturing to retail -- that have come from these breakthroughs.
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment."
Our country is faced with increasing challenges on so many fronts, including how to make sure our education system responds to the changing world dynamics in a way that ensures our students are successful in that flat and competitive world. I agree with President Obama that innovation is the key to our success, as well as our ability to seize the moment and change the way we deliver education. We either become progressive and adapt to the new world we live in or risk becoming irrelevant and lost. I am also thankful that our community and our district have come up with a mission and vision that accepts the challenges before us. If we engage, challenge and inspire our students, they will learn. If we teach them core academics well, and also prepare them with the 21st Century skills, they will be successful. And we are well on our way!
On Tuesday evening, our school board approved the TAP Agreement that was developed between LMUTA and the district. Our negotiating teams used our district values of integrity, teamwork, innovation and resilience to come together and build an agreement that opens the door towards the implementation of the TIF grant using the TAP model at up to six of our schools. This is a great achievement! The fact that our teachers were willing to work with us, were willing to have an open mind and not be obstructionist says a lot about our teacher leadership and their willingness to embrace change. The fact that our teachers voted to ratify this agreement and allow each potential TAP school to decide on TAP implementation says so much about who we are as a district. Each site will cast their vote on February 25th, and 75% of our teachers will need to vote yes to implement the system. I have confidence that once the real benefits of this system-teacher mentoring, coaching and support, weekly cluster meetings and planning time, a proven model of instruction, increased teacher jobs through the addition of 7 master teachers-are understood and weighed against any trepidation, that teachers will decide to move forward with TAP.
Maintaining the 'President Obama' theme of this message, the quote below communicates Mr. Obama's enthusiastic support for the TAP System:
"America's future depends on its teachers. And so today, I'm calling on a
new generation of Americans to step forward and serve our country in our
classrooms. If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation,
if you want to make the most of your talents and dedication, if you want
to make your mark with a legacy that will endure -- then join the
teaching profession. And if you do your part, then we'll do ours.
That's why we're taking steps to prepare teachers for their difficult responsibilities, and
encourage them to stay in the profession. That's why we're creating new
pathways to teaching and new incentives to bring teachers to schools
where they're needed most. That's why we support offering extra pay to
Americans who teach math and science to end a teacher shortage in those
subjects. It's why we're building on the promising work being done in
places like South Carolina's
Teacher Advancement Program
, and making an
unprecedented commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with educating
our children is doing the job as well as it can be done.
Now, here's what that commitment means: It means treating teachers like
the professionals they are while also holding them more accountable --
in up to 150 more school districts. New teachers will be mentored by
experienced ones. Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for
improved student achievement, and asked to accept more responsibilities
for lifting up their schools. Teachers throughout a school will benefit
from guidance and support to help them improve."
The TAP system is just one of the innovations we are acting on in Lucia Mar. Change is coming on a number of fronts as our schools look to other models and programs such as New Technology High, International Baccalaureate, Career Pathways, and the like are examined to see how they can help us address the 21st century skills. We are working hard to find the outside resources we need to implement these programs, which is an incredible challenge. But we will succeed, we will move forward, and we will continue to engage our business partners, challenge our staff to find grant money, and inspire our fine teaching staff so that our students can succeed. This is our time, this is our Sputnik moment. Let's be bold and seize the opportunity to reinvent our educational system so that our growth becomes our students' growth; our willingness to change and learn becomes their willingness to change and learn. We owe them that chance.