By Richard Seas, ACOVSD Superintendent –
Recently, I had an opportunity, along with several of the administrative staff of the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District, to listen to Mr. Jamie Vollmer. Mr. Vollmer, author of the book, “Schools Cannot Do It Alone”, was once a harsh critic of public education. Given Mr. Vollmer’s desire to understand public education and what public educators do to educate the students attending public schools, he has spent the last twenty years supporting public schools.
In his book, Mr. Vollmer writes, “No generation of educators in history has been asked to do what Americans now demand of their public schools. Each year the burden grows, and each day millions of teachers and administrators give everything they have to meet the challenge. Their record of achievement is remarkable. However, no matter how hard they work, or how often they are criticized, they cannot produce the results our nation needs. Not because they are arrogant, overpaid, or unionized. America’s educators cannot ‘teach all children to high levels’ because they work in a system designed to do something else. Select and sort young people for an industrial society that no longer exists.”
Mr. Vollmer makes two important discoveries. “First, we have a systems problem, not a people problem. We must change the system to get the graduates we need. Second, we cannot touch the system without touching the culture of the surrounding town; everything that goes on inside a school is tied to local attitudes, values, traditions, and beliefs.”
As Mr. Vollmer’s book relates to ACOVSD, how well does our community understand what are schools are doing, why the schools do it that way, and how we plan to change it? Given that our community understands what ACOVSD is all about, community trust and ultimately community support come to fruition. In the upcoming months, I will work closely with the ACOVSD Board of Education, administration, and staff to implement better ways to foster community understanding of our schools.
In terms of community understanding, is a student who graduates from ACOVSD “prepared for success” if they gained a skill from the CTC, completed the necessary coursework to attend college, or both? I would answer “Yes”. What if a student only graduates with a diploma having no CTC skill and not prepared for college? I would answer “No”. As noted in Mr. Vollmer’s work, we are no longer selecting young people for an industrial society that does not exist. It is imperative that our community understand this and make sure our graduates receive a diploma that is meaningful and purposeful.
As we reflect in on the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving Day, I want to say how “thankful” I am to work for the ACOVSD. I have come to witness, understand, and appreciate the work of our school board members, administrators, teachers, bus drivers, cooks, custodial/maintenance staff, secretaries, aides, and community organizations as it relates to the education of our students. Thank you all.