Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Preparing for the Leadership Retreat . . .

It is difficult for me to believe, but we are close to the start of another school year.  One of the benchmarks for me is the Principal /Teacher Leadership Retreat and that starts next Monday.  Our lesson plan calls for me to be up front much more than the norm in our leadership training, requiring me to spend more hours reflecting on the content and how best to deliver it.

The driver for this is partly my concern with TPEP and the Common Core consuming our time and energy.  Yes, they are important and both require significant support to balance the mandated change demanded by state legislation and direction.  Though both are big change initiatives, as leaders we must continue to focus on the other contributors to our success over time and what we are learning from research about what building leadership teams do to increase student achievement.

Our task will be a difficult one as those in the room will come with mental models about what the focus of the work over the two days should be that may not be totally aligned with the work we have planned.  Our success will be partly dependent on our capacity to place them in a position where they can suspend their assumptions and be open to embracing the work.  We have some new tools that we believe will support their reflection and capacity to identify structures and strategies to move the work forward on our focus for the two days; SUPPORTING TEACHER GROWTH on our CLASSROOM 10 journey.  It is energizing and critical work and I am excited to be a part of it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Another set of standards . . .

In case it happened without you seeing it, our state is poised to join five others who have already adopted the Next Generation Science Standards.  In this Education Week article we learn that the state board of education has recommended adopting the standards.  It will become official when approved by Superintendent Dorn, something that is expected as he has voiced support for the standards.

I have heard and read good things about the standards and know that they were used when recommending new Science materials this summer to our Board.  The development of the standards was a long time in coming and now gives us "national" standards in three major content areas, math, language arts/reading, and science.  Will social studies be next?  Why is it that developing standards for social studies seems so elusive?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The story resonates . . .
Thanks to Mike for his comment sharing some of his experience at Camp Snowball and how what we are doing resonates with other districts, forming an aspiration for a better place for young people and the adults that support them.

However, like so regularly happens, what really seemed to speak to many folks was the Tahoma School District's story. It is a powerful one.

We experienced something similar in our module where there were three staff from the same school system high up on the organizational chart.  What is so surprising to me is that the tools that we were sharing are not difficult to teach and use when a group of adults decides that they want to learn and grow together.  Over the past week, I believe that our story influenced the beginning of an aspiration for them to become more collaborative.  They want to change the way that adults interact with each other because they believe that will influence their capacity to respond to the needs of young people in their system.

As Mike shared in his comment about the three-legged graphic they used when talking to administrators   in the large system, it was the simple graphic below that we used in our module that sparked the tension leading to this aspiration.  We showed that it is possible to move a system when an aspiration moves to a shared vision.

And, in case you thought we are done learning, we shared the aspiration for continued learning on our journey.  It is unfolding as we come together to see how best to respond to the many mandates from outside the system while we preserve the essence of our Classroom 10 journey.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Good to be home . . .

Even though today was weed eating and mowing, it was good to be home.  The work in the yard was also a good opportunity to reflect on the week and the work.  It was different living in a dorm room, eating three full meals+ every day, and teaching and being in meetings until after nine Monday through Wednesday.

Sharing our learning journey and the conversations it sparked in our module reinforced for me that the time and energy we have spent on creating a foundation for reflective conversations may be a significant factor in what sets us apart from many other school systems.  The more I engage with others and the feedback I get about our work, makes this more evident so that even I can accept it.  Dawn, Mary Jane, and I shared many tools, but the one that resonated most for many in the module is not a system tool, but something that we put together to capture our work.

We filled it out to show growth in or capacity to engage in reflective conversations and move an aspiration to a shared vision, two of the three legs of the systems thinking stool.  It helped them see that to change their current reality they would need to find and intentionally use structures and strategies aligned with the aspiration they have identified. We had discussed the possibility of also using the tool in our leadership meeting with principals and teachers and after teaching this module it makes good sense to use it to review the importance of the three legs and the need to revisit the tools that have influenced the cultures in our current reality.  These tools include mental models, ladders of inference, SPACE, balancing advocacy and inquiry, public/private, Influencer, see/feel change, the power of story . . .  We have hired many new staff since the last time some buildings and we have revisited these tools so it is time.

We can be proud of what we have accomplished and who we are knowing that we have much yet to learn and new structures and strategies to create and influence our future.  Being a part of this learning journey is energizing and rewarding for me.  How about for you?  It would be good to hear the reflections from others that shared the Camp Snowball experience with us.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And rolling . . .

It was another great day at Camp Snowball.  Our module time seems to fly buy as we share our learning journey with others from around the country.  Today, we talked about the importance of mental models, ladders of inference, and balancing advocacy with inquiry.  We then provided them with some time to reflect on their current reality and how some of these tools might be useful in closing the gap between their reality and a preferred vision.  Below, is a picture of two administrators from Milwaukee discussing the structures and strategies to close the gap.

This evening, Dawn and I attended the SoLEd governance meeting where we discussed the future of the organization and next year's location for Camp Snowball 2014.  We made the decision to research possible sites in the Portland area making it a much easier journey for us and saving a whole day of travel and lodging.  We also learned that those attending Mike and Brett's module are sharing how valuable the learning has been and how great they are as instructors.  This doesn't surprise us as we know that they are great teachers.  Below, is a picture of Brett yesterday sharing his experiences this past year as a member of SoLEd's Common Core Initiative.  I'd share a picture of Mike, but he has the capacity as someone else I know to melt into backgrounds and avoid exposure to cameras.  I'll try to get a whole group picture tomorrow, one he will find more difficult to avoid as the kids will ensure his presence.

A shot of those that make this work so rewarding as they went this afternoon on their community learning journeys.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Snowball is rolling . . .

The days at Camp are long, filled with a lot of sitting, conversation, listening, and eating.  As I shared in an earlier post, Mary Jane, Dawn, and I are teaching a module on Leading Change in School Systems.  We have thirteen people from around the country with us and the feedback suggests that our story and the knowledge and tools that we are sharing are ones that will support them moving their current reality closer to an aspiration that they have for change in their system.

We also have two of our teachers, Mike Hanson and Brett Thompson teaching the Secondary Introduction to Systems Thinking Module to a larger number of teachers and adminstrators.  In addition, Tahoma has had a significant presence at every  general session with three students participating in panel presentations and one teacher sharing his experience using system tools in his classroom with all other campers.  I was very impressed with the capacity of our young people to express themselves and once again proud to be a Bear.  Our students and teachers are playing a leadership role, forming relationships, and adding to their understanding of system thinking/dynamics and education for sustainability that they will bring back to our system.

Below are some pictures of our campers in action.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Reauthorization takes another turn . . .

In case you didn't see it, reauthorization of ESEA took another confusing turn when the House Republicans passed a partisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind as contained in this Education Week article.

The bill, approved 221-207, with no Democratic support, would maintain the NCLB law's signature testing schedule and its practice of breaking out student-achievement data by particular groups of students (such as English-language learners and students in special education).

The bill, however, gives states greater latitude in determining how they hold schools and school districts accountable for student growth.  To get support for the bill, Republican leadership also had to make optional one of the key provisions in the recently granted waivers and one supported by education reformers, the use of student achievement data in teacher evaluations.

The measure won support from some of the most conservative members of the House GOP caucus only after Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the bill's author, gave up the ghost on a policy near and dear to his heart: Requiring school districts to use student outcomes to measure teacher effectiveness. Reps. Rob Bishop, R-Utah and Steve Scalise, R-La., persuaded Kline to make such evaluations optional, not mandatory. And those conservative lawmakers were in lock-step with the National Education Association on this issue.

The Senate Democrats are ready to bring to the floor a bill that is much different than the House version while the Senate Republican have already offered a bill very close to that passed by the House.

And in fact, Alexander released a statement calling the bill a "kissing cousin" of his own legislation, which has the support of all ten GOP lawmakers on the Senate education committee. Alexander encouraged his colleagues to pass legislation similar to the House bill, which he said would halt the administration's efforts to create "a national school board."

"Senate Republicans are thrilled," a Senate GOP aide said. "The House bill is about as good a piece of legislation as there is and we should go to conference and concede to the House...[The vote] shows that when you offer freedom, freedom wins."

If that wasn't enough to muddy the waters, the Obama administration has threatened to veto the House bill.  So, NCLB was passed in a bipartisan manner with handshakes and congratulations across the aisle in both houses and with Presidential support.  Its successor has seen a 180 degree turn with partisan votes, threatened vetoes, and no common vision for what we need to support success for all young people.  Care to share your thoughts about this situation and where you are at with the use of student achievement data and school accountability?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Snowball . . .

I am posting today from Winston-Salem, North Carolina where we have a team attending Camp Snowball.  Our team consists of adults and students ready to engage with others from across the country focused on systems thinking, sustainability, and organizational learning.  Unlike the previous two camps at resorts in Tucson, we are staying in dorms on the Wake Forest University campus.  Also unlike previous camps, Dawn, Mary Jane, and I are teaching a class focused on our organizational learning journey.

It was a long day arriving at the airport at 6:00 a.m. and reaching Winston-Salem after 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  This included about an hour on the tarmac at Philadelphia waiting for a back log of flights caused partially by thunder storms and a ride of about 40 minutes from the airport to the dorm on a party bus, not the school bus we had anticipated.

On arrival we checked into the dorm and ordered pizza as everyone was hungry.

My room for the next five days.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Driven by growth, not accountability . . .

If you follow my blog you know that Dawn Wakeley and I have had the good fortune to work with staff from the University of Washington's Center for Educational Leadership, authors of the 5D+ Instructional Model, our teacher evaluation tool.  In this post I shared shared some of what we are learning from the research and the need for coherence in the work.

I am impressed with the work and research being done by CEL and enjoy our learning opportunities, especially conversations with Steve Fink, CEL Executive Director.  Steve sees the importance of and need for an instructional model, but more importantly understands the push for greater accountability that is driving the current tide for implementing new teacher evaluation practices will not, by itself, guarantee teacher growth or increased student achievement.  He has conveyed his thoughts to policy makers in this Education Week article, Keeping Continuous Growth at Teacher Evaluation's Core.

In other words, rating performance (no matter how accurately) does not guarantee the improvement of performance. No logic chain supports the argument that it does. 

The leverage for increased achievement through teacher growth is in creating the capacity for principals and school leaders to understand what quality instruction looks and sounds like in the classroom, a difficult task as we are learning from our learning journey.  These same building leaders must also create a culture that embraces change focused on instruction and develop the personal and collective capacity to use their instructional expertise to provide teachers with the feedback and support needed to influence classroom practice.  As Steve shares in the article to policy makers, this will take time and support at the system and state level for leaders to gain these capacities.

In our experience with our own university-developed teacher-evaluation rubric, we learned that we need to provide this important instructional-anatomy background knowledge before school leaders can learn to use the new evaluation tools. A note to policymakers: This adds additional time and cost to the process. If policymakers fail to invest adequately in this critical process, they may achieve the aura of accountability, but without building a durable foundation that results in, and sustains, continuous improvement.

Steve's words mirror the beliefs that are driving our behavior as we implement the mandated teacher evaluation model.  We will create the capacity for supporting growth of all teachers in our buildings not because of a mandate, but because it is what our Classroom 10 journey has always been about.  Learning from the experience and research coming out of CEL will influence the pace of our learning and change and their beliefs align with who we are and what we want for our teachers and young people. We do not shy away from accountability measures, we see it as a by-product of what we want and need to do to support quality learning, every day, in every classroom, for every child.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Daniel Pink suggestion . . .

Back in May I posted about a short video from Daniel Pink sharing insights into his book To Sell Is Human about the power of pitching with a question.  I asked readers to share their thoughts about a possible question to pitch our upcoming bond measure.  Jonathan was the only person to share a comment that contained some guidance on what he sees as the primary message.

Pink has now posted another short video on Chapter 7 of his book sharing a study that suggests that rhyming may be another tool to enhance your message.  People were given proverbs and asked to measure their accuracy of human behavior.  One group was given proverbs with a rhyme and the other the same proverb without a rhyme.  Those with a rhyme were rated more favorably than those without even though respondents said the rhyme did not influence their decision.

So, how might we use this tool in our message about the bond measure?  View the short video for some insight.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A worthy benefit . . .

Yesterday I attended a benefit to raise money for Darin Hosier, a local ice skating coach with national connections who came down with colon cancer in November.  I was there because my Granddaughter was part of a team from Castle Ice who performed along with youth from other local rinks.  The kids did a great job, putting together a complex program with only two weeks to prepare.  Of course, they practiced multiple hours a day over that two week period.  The benefit also brought out the following skaters with  national and international reputations.  They did a wonderful job.  I am in awe of their athleticism and stamina.

  • Michael Weiss, a two time Olympian, two time World Bronze Medalist and three time National Champion, 
  • Rachael Flatt, an Olympian, US National Champion, National Silver Medalist, and World Junior Champion, and
  • Ben Aggosto, a 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist, 4 time World Medalist, and the 2004-2008 US Champion.
If this wasn't enough to make it a great evening, Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, attended as the master of ceremonies.  Since we were early, we were able to watch them warm up as did Kristi who sat just to the left of where we were on the rink's floor.  I apologized for taking the picture, but she said no problem and was open to signing autographs and engaging with some of the many kids and adults in attendance.  The stars also attended a reception after the performance where they spent a long time signing autographs and taking pictures.

Here is my Granddaughter with Ben Aggosto signing her program.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Packaging and delivering a bond proposal . . .

The next week promises to be an important time for determining the scope of a planned November bond measure.  Tomorrow we meet with our architect team to view options and costs for the proposed projects.  We know the two major projects will be a new 9-12 high school built in the city of Maple Valley and a significant renovation of Lake Wilderness Elementary School.  The renovation will result in a building with 550 student capacity using Building A with additional classrooms, removing Building B, and upgrades to both gyms and fields.

There are many other projects on what has come to be identified as our "warm, safe, and dry" needs at all other buildings.  These include new roofs, replacing siding, upgrading systems, and many other needs that cannot be met through the operating budget.  Next week the Board will begin the discussion of which of these needs to include in the November proposal.  On Thursday of next week we will also be meeting with King County staff to move the property purchase forward.

In my Monday post about the property and bond there was one anonymous comment  that I want to share below because of the need to identify adaptive solutions to informing the community about our needs and the proposed solution through a bond measure.  First, I am pleased that the person is being asked questions by community members.  That would suggest that people are learning about it and want to know more.  Then, as I read the recommendations many questions emerge for me.  What facts are critical?  What story about our elementary students do we need to tell?  How do we package the facts and stories in ways that community members will read and understand?  I welcome any comments, suggestions, ideas, and feedback as we continue this important conversation in our school community.  We are learning that the packaging and delivery are critical..

Hi Mike,
I would like to say I have been asked a lot by parents and community members about the bond and they really need a "just the facts" approach to the overcrowding situation. We need to tell them the reality and plain and simple facts about what our kids are dealing with on a daily basis, not enough seats in the middle schools for all kids, kids taking all books because of locker issues, etc at EACH level of schools. The parents in elementary don't realize what is actually happening at the older schools and vise versa. If we spend too much time on what we want to do and not on what the real problems are, we seem to just lump the problems into the term "overcrowding." I think people will not understand WHY we need the bond to pass.

We need to display the facts in a subway type sign ALL OVER TOWN. With percentages, facts, and what will happen if we don't vote. Many people also point out we are not using the money we have wisely. Maybe that could be addressed as well. Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Charter school interest slows . . .

Since passage of the charter school initiative and implementation of the commission to provide guidance and direction, thirteen public school districts indicated an interest in becoming a charter school authorizer.  The date for submitting applications to the State School Board has passed and only one of the thirteen applied; Spokane School District.

What is causing the others to delay their applications?  Liv Finne at the Washington Policy Center, an early charter supporter, suggests it could be action by WSSDA, the state school directors.

The fall-off in charter school interest among school districts dates from a meeting held June 4th at the Olympia offices of the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA), the statewide professional association of school board members.

The school board association was a major player last year in the unsuccessful effort to defeat Initiative 1240. The organization passed a resolution urging a “no” vote and endorsed the “No on Charters 1240” campaign. In a September statement WSSDA president Mary Fertakis called the creation of a state charter school commission “troubling” and expressed opposition to allowing local school boards to open charter schools.

The June 4th meeting was also attended by school district officials, charter school activists and representatives of the powerful Washington Education Association union. In the weeks following the meeting, officials from all but one of the school districts that attended concluded they will delay seeking to open a charter school in their communities. The next deadline for interested districts is October 1, 2013.

Another reason for the delays shared in the article could be the tight timeline for putting the application together that precluded smaller districts from applying.  Are there other reasons?  Anything I would offer would be assumptions with no basis in fact, but I can't believe that the WSSDA meeting would have resulted in the large number of delays during this first application period.  My sense was that many of the thirteen wanted to be one of the first, if not the first, to authorize a charter school.  It will be interesting to watch what happens between now and the next deadline on October 1st.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The next big decision . . .

In case you haven't seen it, here is a link to an article by Kris Hill in the Covington Maple Valley Reporter about the $4 million in the state capital budget for our purchase of "Donut Hole" property from King County.  It includes quotes from some of the key people involved in this complex process.  Once again I want to say thank you to them for positioning us for a bond measure to build a comprehensive 9-12 high school in the city of Maple Valley.

We have started the conversation with County staff to move forward on the purchase as we continue our conversations on what to include in a bound measure.  Our most urgent need is for additional capacity, but we also have maintenance needs that are not possible through the operating budget.  The next big decision for the Board will be identifying the scope of projects to include in the proposal that will determine the dollar amount of the bond measure.  This decision will be an action item on the Board's July 23rd agenda.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A time to reflect on our behavior . . .
Reading Scott and John's comments to my charter lawsuit post and then seeing this Education Policy Center post about the charter lawsuit made me decide to share another thought that troubles me.  The Policy Center post is not unexpected as the Center was one of the major supporters of the successful charter initiative.  The following phrase was used in their post and is one that we read at the state and national level to describe education associations.

The WEA union is widely recognized as the primary obstacle to education reform in the state, so education analysts have long expected an anti-Initiative 1240 lawsuit would be filed some time this year.

Reformists use the phrase, "primary obstacle to education reform" when the reforms they propose are not supported by an association.  Does this mean that education associations do not support any change and seek always to block reform efforts?  I don't believe that to be true, especially at the local level where we have partnered with our association to support changes that have sustained over time.  Just reading the "WEA union" opening to the sentence troubles me.  WEA stands for Washington Education Association, so what does adding union bring?  It brings with it the negative mental models that many have about unions to support the opinion that the union is the major obstacle.

I am not supporting the stance of WEA on this issue nor do I mean to focus on the Policy Center as there are others that say and use the same phrase to support their position.  I could also go to Association posts and find similar phrases that attribute negative motives for reformer recommendations.  These mental models have contributed to the education policy gap we experienced in the last legislative session and I fear will carry over to the next session if we can't find ways to close that gap.

If we don't like our current reality, fighting over conflicting policy will only continue the win/lose environment we are currently experiencing.  The gap will not close as long as those in powerful positions of influence are comfortable with current reality.  To close the gap, policy makers and those that influence them at the state and national level must be willing to reflect on the assumptions they hold about public education and make a decision that it is in the best interest of young people to find what we can agree on as a starting point to creating a shared vision of what might be.

Comments like those in the Center post and by others on all sides of this issue will only result in continuing our current reality, one dominated by disagreement and seeking power and influence.  It will take new structures for this to happen that have eluded us in the past, but I believe that it is possible if we can create the capacity for the reflective conversations necessary to begin and sustain the dialogue. It will not be easy and may not happen, but we need to decide if it is important enough.  I believe that it is.  We are wasting too much energy on power struggles where we need to dedicate all our energy to implementing the multiple options that will be needed for all young people to experience success in our public schools and this may include charters.  It is time for all of us to reflect on what drives our behavior, winning policy battles or working collaboratively to discover the structures needed for supporting teachers and students in our classrooms.

I agree with John's comment to my previous post.

But in the end, let a dead horse lie. We need to focus on solving the problems that lay before us; that is where we should be placing our energies. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another education related, constitutional lawsuit . . .

In January I posted about a possible lawsuit against charter schools if WEA could find partners.  On Wednesday in this Seattle Times article we learned that they found partners and  are proceeding with the suit on constitutional grounds.

In filing the lawsuit, the Washington Education Association was joined by the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.

The state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday it plans to fight the suit.

“It’s the attorney general’s job to defend the will of the voters, and that’s what we’ll do in this case,” said Janelle Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the office.

I have mixed feelings about this suit even though the Association I belong to has joined.  I especially don't like having another education related suit being defended with state tax dollars like we have seen in the McCleary case.  Though charter proponents believe that it is a distraction suit and that the law will stand the constitutionality test it may need to go all the way to the State Supreme Court before that determination is finalized.

Though I am not a proponent of charters and do not believe that they are the answer to the needs of at risk students in our state, I am struggling with the need for this lawsuit.  Too many resources and energy will go into this effort on both sides when what we most need is greater collaboration as we implement  major changes driven by state reforms . I also find it interesting that Superintendent Dorn, who has said that the law is unconstitutional because it takes away his power, did not comment Wednesday on the suit.

What are your thoughts?  Is this suit necessary because the charter law is a threat to public education in our state or are there other reasons?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fun without sun . . .

Our family continued the July 4th tradition of spending the day on Lake Sammamish followed by dinner at Red Robin.  We decided, however, to break from tradition and start earlier so there would be no line to launch or at least a smaller line.  Waking up the weather didn't look that great, but the forecast was to clear up and be in the mid-seventies so we left early and were on the water by 8:30 and there was no line.  In fact, there were few boats out as the weather stayed cloudy until between 1 and 2 when we saw sun breaks and by 3 it was clear and around 70 degrees.

We made it through the cooler time with stories and constant entertainment by our Grand kids.  Great time that just finished with fireworks in the riding arena. Time to once again give thanks for all that has been given to me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A complex system problem . . .

I had an interesting day today with multiple calls and emails about the $4 million in the state capital budget to support our purchase of property in the donut hole.  Some were congratulatory and some asked for my thoughts about our success and also about the state operating budget that I blogged about here.  What made it interesting was the difference between what I felt about the capital budget success and the legislator's final decisions on education funding for the biennium.  It caused me to reflect on my thinking about these issues.

In my previous budget post I shared a link about the mixed feelings that many have about the $1 billion increase in public school funding.  With the opportunity to review the final budget, some are now suggesting the "real" increase is less including State Superintendent Dorn who shares his thoughts in today's Superintendent Statement.

The final adopted budget increased basic education funding by $955 million. Moreover, the Legislature did not fund voter-approved Initiatives 728 and 732 – which lower class sizes and increase teacher pay – two areas we must spend more on in the future. Had those items been funded, the increase to education spending would only be about $500 million.

Despite all the hard work this session, we have barely begun to make progress towards full state funding. We have five more years, and we are still roughly $7 billion short.
This leads me to two critical questions:
  1. Does the Legislature have a plan to satisfy McCleary by 2018?
  2. How will the Legislature provide a stable funding source so districts can plan for the future?

Superintendent Dorn had originally asked for $4 billion that he later reduced to $1.4 billion as a down payment for this biennium.  Though I agree that we wanted more and believe that this initial decision will make the accountability of the McCleary decision difficult to achieve by 2018,  I wonder if our aspirations were grounded in reality.  With the projected shortfalls in the short term and the significant power shift in the Senate as components of our current reality, what made us think that $1.4 billion was possible?  When the House budget came in below that amount, was there any possibility of both chambers agreeing to that total?

There was no common aspiration between the Senate, House, Governor, and OSPI on a plan to meet the court demands for full funding by 2018.  To add to the complexity is the lack of shared aspiration within the two Houses leading to finger pointing between those in control and those in the minority.  In the absence of a common aspiration the likelihood of a collaborative solution is not possible.  We saw emotional tension, but little of the creative tension necessary for the parties to find adaptive solutions for this complex funding problem.  Perhaps we expected too much from a system operating as silos driven by divergent policy beliefs.  Significant changes are necessary between now and next session demanding dialogue that I fear may not take place as all parties retreat into policy conversations at the caucus and department level.

Superintendent Dorn's questions above are indeed critical, but I wonder what role we can and must play to change current reality.  What should I be doing to close the gap between the parties?  My normal post-session behavior is to put it behind me and focus on our system, something I have the capacity to influence.  I fear that if I and we do this next session will begin with the current reality we no experience, one that makes the capacity to achieve a common aspiration all but impossible to achieve.  Part of the answer will be found when we can create the capacity for all parties to engage in true dialogue with the shared vision to ensure post high school success in learning and work, a major task.