(Editor’s note: This is one in a monthly series of columns by Lenawee County school superintendents working through the Lenawee Intermediate School District and the Lenawee County Superintendents’ Association.)
Nelson Mandela said it best, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In reality, over the past hundred years, although the world has changed, education has not.
The world is changing — computer education, communication, technology and the global integration of economic markets are changing the workplace skills that businesses, governments and nonprofits require to compete effectively in this new century. Lenawee County has and continues to go through changes not unlike the rest of the world.
General Motors plants in Adrian and Tecumseh have either changed hands or closed. Tecumseh Products, the largest manufacturer of compressors, has closed. Peerless Gear, located in Clinton, has closed. Parker Chemical, located in Morenci, has closed. The aforementioned changes in industry, along with needed changes in the delivery of education, were the catalyst that brought “Strive Together” to Lenawee County as a means to address the issues brought forth from a changing world.
In 2013, “Strive Together” presented a new concept to many sectors of Lenawee County, including academia, business and nonprofits. That concept was the Lenawee “Cradle to Career: Pathways to Success Partnership” with a goal of “… providing every child in Lenawee County with a quality education.”
The entire process, since that first meeting in 2013, has been data-driven. From that data, taken between 2000 and 2013, the “Cradle to Career” leadership team learned that married-couple families declined by 5.5 percent; non-traditional families grew by 4.8 percent; children living in poverty grew by 11.4 percent; and adults living in poverty grew by 8.9 percent.
Using such data, the team facilitated an education-focused effort to create a Lenawee County Strategic Plan to counter growing poverty and its resulting challenges for families. If education was made relevant, could this stem the tide of growing poverty in Lenawee County?
Based with this knowledge, 53 community members committed to a four-day planning process where current student-level data was analyzed, dialogue occurred between school district and community leaders and a plan was formatted including measurable targets that will influence education in Lenawee County. The plan included five identified outcomes that can be achieved by planning it, trying or doing it, studying or observing it, and acting on what you have learned.
The identified outcomes to be achieved: all students entering kindergarten will be ready for school; all third graders will become proficient readers; all students will successfully graduate/earn a certificate of completion with a plan for a post-secondary experience that aligns with the student’s Education…