Getting ready for the new school year to start. Very exciting...I’ve always loved the first day of school. This year...still lovin it (even though this appears to be a tough one). This is my third start of school as a member of the Board of Education, and as I mentioned recently, that means I’ve been on the BOE for 28 months. Earlier this summer I said I had mainly spent these months learning things. I’ve done a little thinking about what those things are. Some lessons are “big.” Most are small. Without further explanation, here (in random order) are 28 lessons I've learned in 28 months.
1. Not everyone agrees on some pretty important things. They're not evil. They just honestly see things differently.
2. There are not enough hours in the day.
3. Every school in Ridgewood has a distinct personality.
4. It is, indeed, difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.
5. Some people just do not listen. Period. (And I'm not talking about teenagers here. I'm talking grown adults who seemingly function in society.)
6. “Education World” doesn’t always operate the same as “real business world.”
7. Starbucks is perfectly located in relation to the Ed Center.
8. Individual BOE members have no status or official standing, accept when acting as the full Board.
9. Too few people say “thank you” to each other – both inside and outside the schools
10. New Jersey schools are in better shape than those in much of the country.
11. Not everything is as it seems
12. It’s possible to survive a stressful time without consuming thousands of calories after 10 PM
13. For every parent (staff, taxpayer) with an opinion, there is another parent (staff, taxpayer) with the exact opposite opinion.
14. The student body in our schools is more varied than I previously thought.
15. Trenton requires the District to pay for a lot of things that don't make sense (for example, transportation for students to other schools they choose, such as Bosco, IHA, Bergen Academies, etc.)
16. There’s more than one way to teach pretty much everything.
17. Education “experts” don’t agree on almost anything.
18. What most teachers do, day in and day out, is really remarkable. When they do it well for 30+ years, it’s mind-boggling.
19. Like many of the old homes in Ridgewood, most our district’s beautiful old buildings are vast money pits. Something always needs fixing.
20. The quality of Ridgewood’s art and music programs is miles above most in New Jersey.
21. For the most part, the Village leadership doesn't look at the BOE as being part of the same team.
22. The Math Wars will eventually be replaced by the potentially more contentious Science Wars.
23. Web 2.0 and social media technologies such as blogs, online videos, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Nings, etc., are changing education faster, and better, than most people realize.
24. Students come into our schools with an amazing (and increasing) array of personal problems, family challenges, hardships, emotional issues, etc.
25. The “union mentality” among education bargaining units is more entrenched and more confounding than I expected.
26. Our principals are amazing. Whew, what a job!
27. In addition to budgeted expenditures and activity fees, parents contribute staggering amounts of money to some extracurricular programs.
28. Public education funding in New Jersey is basically broken. Places like Ridgewood have had the wherewithal and the tenacity to make it work so far.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org