About a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, a career preparedness facility for high school students in the Cherry Creek School District, located just outside of Denver, Colo.
This visit was part of an AASA Youth Apprenticeship Summit, where superintendents joined me to get a firsthand look at engaged and motivated students pursuing potential pathways to gain the skills necessary to earn a portable credential in preparation for their next step, whether that was heading directly to college or entering the workforce.
For generations, maintaining a leadership role in reshaping America’s public education agenda has always been an integral part of AASA’s DNA. Just a few days after the outcome of the 2020 elections, we were pleased to issue a set of proposed education policy recommendations for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.
We know that the new administration is looking for a path forward, and a healthy and quick response to, and recovery from, the COVID-19 pandemic.
AASA is committed to having a strong professional and collaborative relationship with the next administration. The policy recommendations we are proposing culminate our efforts to set a new, positive course for American education and ensure America is a land of opportunity for every child.
soon kicks off a weeklong celebration on behalf of the more than 50 million
students who are learning and growing in our nation’s public schools.
Schools Week 2020 (Feb. 24-28), school systems large and small will showcase the
good news happening inside their classrooms. This annual recognition highlights
the critical role public education plays in shaping our nation’s future
and underscores why it serves as the bedrock of our democracy.
that nine out of 10 children attend public schools, there is no better time
than now to speak out for our young learners.
celebration will get a jump-start when hundreds of superintendents—the CEOs of
our public school districts and America’s ambassadors of great learning—arrive
in San Diego for the 2020 National Conference on Education (Feb. 13-15),
hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Year in, year out,
this annual gathering attracts some of the country’s foremost education thought
leaders addressing the needs of every child, every day.
Off in the distance from our
hotel, one could spot the infamous Hollywood sign perched on the Santa Monica
Mountains. They say Hollywood is where the stars are. As far as I was concerned,
the only stars that mattered were the 2,000 superintendents and other
administrators who joined us in the City of Angels to celebrate excellence in
school system leadership.
This year’s AASA International Seminar took our group of superintendents to Ecuador. This was not our first journey to South America and we found education in Ecuador to be very similar to what we have seen in Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Chile.
AASA President Chris Gaines and Executive Director Dan Domenech with children from the Milenio School in Guano, Ecuador.
Like their neighbors, Ecuador’s public schools serve primarily the poor while the middle class and up tend to send their children to private schools. We visited two such schools, the American International School in Quito and the Vigotsky School in Riobamba.
The International school is truly a model of outstanding education. Catering to the children of American diplomats and those that can afford the $18,000 per-year tuition, the school offers programs to infants through high school. We were very impressed by the college-like campus and the quality of the teachers and administrators.
Today, we began our school visits at the Unidad Educativa del Milenio GUANO, a Pre-K to high school, housed in a four-and-a-half year-old government-built facility. The school has an enrollment of 630 students who previously attended seven different smaller schools now consolidated into one new building.
The children attend school from September 4 through July 10 and live in the area of Guano. Some children are bused to school.
As superintendents from across the U.S., we appreciate the opportunity to see the value placed on education in other countries. Clearly, other countries often aspire to provide a mandatory education for all, as we do.
I ventured to visit schools on a hot sunny morning on the island. Not knowing if I would be given entrance to the schools, I decided to take the risk and was joined by David Woolly, the superintendent of the Alma School District in Alma, Ark.
Given the lure around Charles Darwin on the Galápagos Islands, I was immediately attracted to visiting the Carlos Darwin School. Upon arrival, a native from Ecuador greeted us.
The AASA International Seminar is always a meaningful experience for superintendents. During this year’s trip, we are learning about the culture and history of Ecuador, which includes the opportunity to visit schools. The value added is traveling with fellow superintendents from across our country, making connections and learning from each other.
Superintendents on the AASA International Seminar listen to a presentation at the American International School in Quito, Ecuador.
Our first school visit was to Academia Cotopaxi, an American International School, educating children from 12-months-old to high school. This school has a beautiful campus and is located in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. The Academia is a private, English-based international school. The parents of many of the children who attend are stationed in Quito either through the embassy or are U.S. government officials. The children come from 38 different countries with a total enrollment of 850. Fifty-eight percent of the students are international, 42 percent are from Ecuador and 22 percent are from North America. The tuition is $18,000 per student.
As long as I’ve been working in public education, this time of year has always been very special. On behalf of the entire AASA family, we hope our superintendents and those aspiring to become superintendents have a fantastic school year filled with the creation of positive solutions that will translate into greater academic outcomes for our students.
I’ve been saying for years that superintendents are the nation’s foremost thought leaders in public education. Last week, our school system leaders spoke out about some very critical issues that directly affect the lives of our students. We need to listen to what was said and do something about it.
July is always a special time for AASA. Hundreds of superintendents across the country—some of the sharpest minds in public education—gathered in the nation’s capital last week to discuss some of the most critical issues in public education as part of our annual Legislative Advocacy Conference.
The meeting marked three days of invaluable conversation focusing on such hot-button issues as school safety, appropriations, career and technical education, the Higher Education Act, teacher shortages, IDEA and Medicaid. AASA members—individuals I often refer to as “champions for children”—made their voices heard by visiting members of Congress from their respective districts and states to share opinions on these important matters.