President Tim Hall, Mercy College
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Dr. Pola Rosen’s founding of Education Update. She launched this important newspaper before Google or Netflix or the Iphone existed and before any of us had ever heard of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, or Common Core.
The years Education Update has helped to chronicle have seen an ever-increasing emphasis on educational accountability as the social and economic benefits of education have grown ever more pronounced. What else could we expect? Education reform movements are prone to creating paper villains and metrics that often fail to capture the full breadth of what it means to be educated. They are capable of dispiriting those whose labor we need most to educate the next generation. Nevertheless, the stakes could not be higher. If we can improve, we must improve. The trajectories of not only individual lives are at stake, but the lives of families and communities and even our country itself.
In the area of higher education, for example, we are simply not graduating enough students to serve the economic needs of the nation. We can point fingers of blame for the lack of graduates our economy needs, but—in the end—we will all be losers.
The challenges of demography, especially, are real in education. Low income students, for example, are overwhelmingly less likely to graduate from college than students from the highest quartile of family income. We may be inclined to shrug our shoulders as if this were a sad situation, but one of little personal consequence. In reality, though, as John Donne noted in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, “No Man Is an Island.” The educational deficiencies of our neighbors, no matter how distant, will eventually find us out. The same focus I direct to seeing that “my” kids have the education they need is the focus needed to see that “our” kids have the education they need.
Of all the subjects about which thorough and informed news coverage is crucial to our collective futures, it’s hard to imagine one more important than education. The incessant polemics of political leaders and interest groups, from whatever quarter of the educational spectrum, require more independent voices as balance. Education Update is such a voice, and I hope it thrives further into the future than any of us can see. Congratulations to Dr. Rosen for twenty years of important public service. #