Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yes, We Can, Mr. President-Elect!

I want to congratulate President-elect Barack Obama. We don't know each other but we've been communicating. On November 4, 2008, the President-elect looked right at me and spoke directly to me during his acceptance speech. He said,"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too." Thank you, Mr. President-elect. I heard you and I pledge my unwavering support to your presidency.

I was moved by my President-elect's promise to me. Determined to find out if he'd really heard my voice, I began devouring information on his education platform. Yep! He appeared to have heard my deepest concern expressed in August, 2008 when I signed the CoSN,ISTE, NEA, SETA online petition in support of making 21st century classrooms a top national priority. He even seemed to respond to the petition on August 28, 2008 during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. He said, "Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy."

Mr. President-elect, I believe you genuinely want to provide a world-class education for all American children. As parents, you and I have a common understanding of the compelling, driving hope all parents share. We all dream that our children will enjoy an empowering education. Listen to me, please. I'm whispering, so you'll listen very closely.

If you want your children and my child, and all American children to have a world class education, you must connect them to the world.

The transportation to a world-class education is a sound, reliable, high-speed information super highway that can lead our schools into the 21st century. Our educators cannot possibly take our children to "meet the world" without a road to travel that begins at the schoolhouse door. We cannot join the world's growing learning revolution with patched school infrastructure, blocked information resources, minimal technical support, insufficient professional development, minimal funding and lack of coherence and vision for educational technology at the national level.

I'm very concerned that the U.S. Department of Labor reports that education is dead last on a list of 55 industries in its use of technology. I'm devastated that the New Commission of the Skills for the American Workforce in it's landmark 2007 report Tough Choices or Tough Times describes our public schools as failing in this "Portrait of a Failing School System."

I'm angry to watch as our country "bails out" Wall Street and considers "bailing out" the automobile industry. Can you see that American educators have every right to be outraged? Our country's Congressional leaders, and, yes, our President, have been warned repeatedly by governmental agencies that the U.S. education system is failing our children. Yet, where is education's "bail out?" Where is the complete infrastructure we need to revamp and reform our business? Our "product" - the nation's children - are the economy of the future - the hope of our nation. Our "business" is critical to national competitiveness and, yes, to our national security. Mr. President-elect, so many educators want to reform our failed system. We know how to do it but our road is blocked. We simply cannot transport our students to a world class education when we remain trapped in cement block walls with inferior networks, impossible bureaucratic barriers, and blocked access to many of the most powerful learning tools.

Help us, the nation's educators, Mr. President-elect. Our country's teachers aspire to become William Glasser's "quality teacher" We want to convince "not half or three-quarters but all of our students to do quality work in school," but we cannot convince 21st century learners to engage with 20th century tools! Throughout our great country's history the "tools of the age" have transported our nation's progress. The tools of the Industrial Age transformed our nation's workforce. The tools of the Information Age transformed our world's workforce. And now, as we enter the Conceptual Age, the incredible tools of World Wide Web promise to transport our global community to a "world class" education. Listen carefully, Mr. President-elect: If you truly want to lead our nation in a transformation of 20th century schools to world class 21st century schools, connect our schools to the internet, unleash some the barriers to information access and hold our profession accountable for reforming school.

Throughout your campaign, Mr. President-elect, you demonstrated an undeniable grasp of the power of technology to transform and energize your political engine. You wisely took advantage of broadband connections to inform, to communicate, to survey, to recruit, to inspire, to learn and to lead. Technology gave you a distinct advantage. I ask you now, President-elect Obama, won't you make very certain every American child has that same opportunity to use the tools of the age to reach their highest potential? I want to thank you for listening to me. Because I am able to sit in my own livingroom and communicate with you via the amazing information super highway, I have the highest hope that you will "hear me." I want you to know, however, that many teachers and students do not have this privilege in our schools. We can do something about this.
Yes, we can.


  1. Beth, bravo, for an excellent plea for help at the root of our future, the future of our children, the very children who we meet at the school doors each day. The very children who look to us to provide them with the platform to learn how to learn.
    Sheryl Nussbaum Beach foretold the future at our Maine State Technology Conference, ACTEM. You can listen to her keynote, which is incredible. However, the ending was the Pièce de résistance. You could hear a pin drop in a room full of 800 educators. Her challenge, : "We have got to move from a deficit based education system to a , we can no longer teach to the gap, Change is something that is going to happen!Are we willing to CHANGE? We will have to unlearn what we have learned and we will have to relearn.We in the room are the last generation of teachers the last to have the prerogative to decide whether we wanted to embrace these digital literacies. Our students don't have the prerogative. If we don't teach them they won't be in the safety net of our classrooms, they won't be successful in the 21st Century. This is a moral responsibility for all educators. Do it for the children's sake!
    I would add to the plea, Mr. Obama, President Elect, join in our conversations. Join the look at and then listen to the innovators. Gather these people at your virtual tables, continue the conversation with us at the table.

    Look at David Warlick's latest challenge. It is time sensitive. Be a prosumer, add to this, don't only be a consumer. ACT Now, the future is here.

  2. Cheryl, I just listened to Sheryl N. Beach as I contributed to David Warlick's challenge! What a fabulous hour! Thank you for recommending...and thank you for visiting my blog.

  3. Bravo! An amazing message. Thanks for sharing this,

  4. Yes, education does need to change and we do need to find the resources to make this happen. Our children and our future are much too important to put this on the back burner while rest of corporate America gets bailed out.

    Great response Cheryl!

  5. Thanks, Beth. I needed to hear that. You got me riled up again and you are right - what about a education bail out?

    The 21st Century Tools that were used to win this election are the tools that we need to use in our classrooms to get our students communicating with each other. But they need access.

    I needed to read this today. Thanks again.

  6. Nice work, Beth. It is one of the best pieces I have seen from you in your relatively short blogging career. Keep it up! I love to hear the passion in your writing!

  7. Well done, Beth! Hopefully, you American educators will be successful with such a promising future president! It´s Parliamentary Elections in Germany next year, and I wonder what our politicians will have to say. Our Lady Chancellor has just failed in promoting education in Germany. The costs have to be borne by the Federal States, and most of them are lacking the money. I wonder where all these additional tax revenues have gone when the economy was booming. Now they have another argument: "bailing out" banks and the automobile industry.

    Obama´s slogan would be different in Germany: "Yes, we could, but..."