Over the past few years, communities across the nation, especially in communities where industrial change has been most impactful, are using community action to refocus the education of its youth to better prepare for their careers and lifework. (See List).
Dr. Donald Hammond of the United Way of Dutchess and Orange Counties introduced the subject to our community at large by setting up initial meetings to introduce the community to the concept. Jay Connor of The Collaboratory, a consultant who worked with several other communities already, presented the concept and led initial conversations among community leaders to acquaint the community and assist the leaders in taking the first steps of the process.
This movement began as a Community Education Aspiration Conversation.
- By Community we mean a geographic area large enough to cover mutual interests, and small enough that size did not become unmanageable.
- By Education, we mean learning aimed at enhancing each individual's chosen lot in life, and not necessarily constrained by school systems or other education/training organizations.
- By Aspiration, we mean to capture the wish, hope, desire, dream of the community to have each inhabitant to learn whatever is needed to turn their hopes, inate abilities, and interests into their own chosen career sequence.
- By Conversation, we mean the collaboration that enables inhabitants to have the choices and opportunities to succeed at their own combination of inherent abilities and desired pursuits.
As with any new initiative, the beginnings are as much chaos as clarity. Yet to those of us who have participated in the conversation so far, there is an opportunity to greatly enhance the success of our youth by whatever measures we eventually choose to focus on. They may be graduation rates, the dropout rates, employment rates, unemployment rates, wages, etc.
Summarizing the work to date, we have:
- Chosen an aspiration statement:
- Identified 4 areas of work to focus on
- Begun the discussions as to what "Community" (may be communities) we will choose to focus our work.
- Created this web presence as a way of exhibiting our work and tracking our progress.
- Reinforced the concept of there is always an empty chair, that is we welcome new contributors to any and all the efforts.
Each step in the conversation is recorded here for the record of the participants, and for those who are interested in contributing to the ongoing conversation. The steps so far are:
- Initial Aspiration Conversations
- Design Team Work
- Community Forum
- Aspiration to Action
- Related Links