Eight years ago I was exposed to a new piece of work created by superintendents across Texas who had a greater vision for public education than simple accountability based on high-stakes testing. At the time, I don’t know if I appreciated the work for all that it was worth and the enormous thought and innovation that went into this vision. It was kind of like how we sometimes take things for granted, like our freedom in America or breathing. It’s just something you have. The district leadership frequently brought this document to the forefront of our conversations and asked us to reflect on its purpose and relevance for our work.
Then the world changed. “Freedom” and “breathing” were no longer a part of our work as leaders. Every trace of the Texas Visioning Document was erased from the district and the work we did, only to be replaced with conversations driven by student and teacher performance on the state assessment. It is true that you do not always appreciate what you have until it is gone. But now, like the freedom of a democratic society or the air needed for survival, I was missing a critical part of my profession. I began a mission to find a district whose work was driven by the principles of the Visioning Document. I had to find a new source of oxygen for my career. I was thrilled to find so many districts who had not abandoned this work and quickly found a home with like purpose.
Four years later, I have been selected as a principal to represent my district to focus specifically on this document. I find myself on a new frontier, no longer to serve solely a receptacle for the information being learned from the vision of this text, but as a vehicle to take this information to others. It is a great responsibility to help spread the mission and vision of a new face of education. This plan allows for ownership, flexibility, and opportunity for learning “anywhere, anytime, any path, and any pace.” It is our moral imperative to have the grit and growth mindset needed to prepare students for a future that we can probably not accurately perceive, to stand against special interest groups that would promote learning for some, but not all, and to communicate to society about how the future of education needs to change. While it is somewhat scary facing the uncertainty, it is also exciting and a challenge I gladly accept.