Since Boston Latin School was founded in 1635, education has been at the core of our society.
Our founding fathers understood the education of this country's youth was paramount to creating the generational aspiration of the American Dream. Free taxpayer-supported education is included in governing documents, from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Ohio Constitution.
For centuries, education was a largely local-directed commitment. School districts, much like local economies, operated in relative isolation. In Ohio, the standardization movement shifted much of the curricular focus to a state-model curriculum. The shift from a local economy to a global economy has changed what is required of our school systems.
American's public school districts no longer are preparing our young people today for the local economy. Schools aren't positioning students for success in a single career.
A high school graduate today must have skills that are mobile and adaptable. Public schools are preparing students for a global, not local, economy that must be ready for multiple jobs in potentially evolving fields of work. Local preferences for curriculum and skills are being supplanted by industry- and business-driven needs.
Just as in the 17th century, education is at the heart of America's success. A strong public-education system is the silver bullet for the challenges we face as a country. This has not, and will not, change. It is in America's DNA.
What has changed is the need to look outside the schoolhouse walls for partnerships, support and direction. We must think bigger, ask more challenging questions and have a vision for what will be demanded of us in the future.
Historically similar school districts have had a healthy sense of competition over collaboration.
Districts like Dublin and Hilliard have not only competed on Friday nights on the football field and on Saturdays at band competitions, but we have competed in programming and academic offerings, as well. This competition served communities well when economies were largely a local function. This is no longer the case. Our economy is no longer identified by a local town or municipality, but by a larger geographic region. We all win when the greater Columbus community thrives and grows.
To this end, our school district is breaking down barriers and working together to meet the needs of our students.
Both Hilliard and Dublin have opened innovative, collaborative campuses. The Hilliard Innovation Campus and the Emerald Campus in Dublin are examples in internal collaborative buildings.
We are not only exploring but programming, too, to create shared opportunities between our district. Hilliard has students going to the Emerald Campus for specific courses. Future programs will capitalize on our capacity to meet specific industry needs across district lines.
We also are working as a larger community with our Be Well initiative.
On March 9, our district will host a collaborative, co-planned Parent University event focused on students' health and well-being. This effort includes a series of co-host booked talks and events welcoming the authors of these books, in both districts. "UnSelfie" author Michele Borba and "What Made Maddy Run" author Kate Fagan are featured speakers at different times as part of this partnership.
Preparing students for the workforce cannot take place in isolation; we need business and industry to be part of the conversation.
From business advisory councils to Columbus 2020, school districts need to know what skills are, and will be, required for future success. Hilliard City Schools has partnerships with many local businesses; these relationships make us a better district. We also strive to engage regional partners to gain that global perspective.
The job market is shifting – not every student needs a four-year college degree for future success.
We are hearing business partners talk about credentialing, life skills and lifelong learning as imperatives in a shifting market.
We also know that apprenticeships and mentorship programs give students a true vision of what the future can be at a personal level.
These partnerships and relationships are essential. We aren't preparing students for their parent's jobs; we are preparing them, in some cases, for jobs that don't even exist.
Colleges and universities
Right or wrong, students seemingly are growing up faster today.
Just last year our partnership with Columbus State Community College afforded Hilliard students to earn more than 4,500 college credits.
Working with Kenyon College over the past 15 years has created opportunities in each high school for students to gain access to rigorous college content.
The Ohio State University not only provides post-secondary options, but also is the destination for dozens of Hilliard graduates each year.
We also continue to partner with our local colleges and universities to provide ongoing continuing education for our staff members. Our professional staff members must also be lifelong learners, and we must adjust and adapt our instructional techniques and curriculum to meet the needs of our students. This means working with experts at the university level to support and guide us in our work.
We also must partner with policy makers, legislators and local government officials.
When we all work in silos, we don't serve our taxpayers well.
When we engage in turf battles and political scuffles, we waste time and resources.
Our families today increasingly are diversified. Nearly a quarter of our school population is considered economically disadvantaged. We know students cannot learn if they are not safe, warm and fed.
As a district we embrace this challenge, but we also seek community partnerships with social-service providers.
When we take politics out of education, better legislation is drafted, debated and eventually signed into law.
This isn't about superficial, social-educational issues. Let's get to the tough topics; let's make public education work for all students regardless of economic status.
We can bring that level of success to all students, but it won't happen because of an assessment or law.
In conclusion, Boston Latin in 1635 served a single purpose for a city.
The Hilliard school district serves many purposes and prepares students for a future that doesn't yet exist.
This isn't accomplished in isolation, looking to the past or working alone. It demands that we, as a district, engage those who are also looking to the future.
Only through active partnerships, built on relationships grounded in trust and respect, can we provide our students the future they deserve.
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.