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Feast or Famine?

May 17, 2008

This weekend I’ve had an incredible opportunity. Dan Theobald from i2i, a consulting firm in California, invited me to speak to a group of leaders in California at a three day event hosted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. There is a lot I could say about LACMA and what a huge, and awe inspiring facility it is, but my focus here is really more on the meeting and the amazing work that is happening at it.

California is a big state, and there are a couple of folks here who keep reminding us of that. As one person next to me said, there are more students in the city of Los Angeles than there are in the entire state of Wisconsin. Having worked with some large districts, and knowing what its like to work with the 800lb gorilla in the room, I can’t begin to imagine what has to happen each day to keep that size of a district up and running. Likewise, as plentiful as resources are here, there is fierce competition for them that creates a feast or famine model. Teachers often don’t have much control over their access to those resources, and whole systems have been created to try and deal with these equity issues.

Yet other districts, towns, and rural areas are struggling. They can’t get the funding to feed the infrastructure needed to bring services to their districts. Few children are moving through the schools. Declining enrollments and non-performance reprimands further hasten the demise of these schools, which leads to the demise of the community. As one participant described to me, she drove through “ghost towns” to come to this conference.

That’s still resonating with me right now. Connectivity has become SO important to education that when it doesn’t exist, schools die, communities die. That has to then have a further impact on those counties, and ultimately the state as a whole. Yet the culture we live in is one of inequity ~

Wish I had enough cycles in my fingers to get down all of the stuff going around in my head. Feast or famine…

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