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Garcia’s address looks to the future

Windham Superintendent of Schools Patricia Garcia’s “State of Our Schools” address Nov. 21 didn’t offer any revealing details about the ins and outs of the Windham School System.

Nor did it reveal anything shocking or different from past addresses.

But that’s OK, it wasn’t supposed to.

It did, however, provide constituents with a refreshing take on the future, namely the opinion that school officials cannot rest on their laurels, despite improvements in major areas, including the high school graduation rate.

Back in 2011, when the state appointed a special master to take over the Windham School District due to declining student performance, the high school grad rate was 64.9 percent.

According to Garcia in her address, the graduation rate is now 87.2 percent, a wonderful turnaround from the days when Windham was under the thumbprint of the state.

That’s an astounding 22.3 percentage points better than during the district’s darkest days, a byproduct of targeting all students for improvement and efforts to simply keep kids in school.

But what made Garcia’s address noteworthy wasn’t just this number, it was the lack of a celebratory tone.

There was no back-slapping and high-fives — just a realization that there was more work to do.

The reason?

When you sift through the education lingo school officials can sometimes impart when it comes to discussing goals and action plans, Windham’s is simple, Garcia said.

“We cannot rest until every child in the district is successful,” Garcia said.

Bravo.

Educating children is not about bragging about which ones get accepted to which colleges or what percentage does this or that.

Those are nice factoids to put in an educational PowerPoint presentation.

But the core of a school system’s goal is exactly what Garcia said.

It’s to be successful.

And it’s also about realizing that, while that goal may be somewhat difficult to attain, striving for it ensures the best possible results.

 

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