Hamilton County, OH November 2, 1999 Election
Smart Voter

Catching Up With the Future

By John J. Gilligan

Candidate for Board Member; Cincinnati City School District

This information is provided by the candidate
Our whole world has changed dramatically in the past thirty years, the way we live, the way we work, the way we acquire and transmit knowledge, the way we raise our children, and we must realize that a school system designed to meet the challenges of an earlier age will not provide adequately for the needs of our children today.
We are vaguely aware that today 65% of all American women are employed outside the home, that the number of singje parent households has tripled in 25 years, that an economy once characterized by relatively high wages, job security, and important ftmge benefits like retirement pensions and health insurance, for the vast majority of hourly workers, exists no longer. What we have now is a much more fluid employment environment in wluch the education and slull levels for entrance into the work force are significantly higher than in the past, and where technological innovation can at any moment cause corporate downsizing, and the disemployment of thousands of workers.

A public school program at the elementary and secondary levels, geared to prepare children for an earlier economy will no longer serve to meet today's needs, and tomorrow's. There is, of course, a very large segment of the today's youth who have had since birth all of the educational and technological advantages which anyone could hope for; and by and large these youngsters will go on to the best universities in the country, and will take their places in the forefront of American science and industry for much of the next century. Their future success is almost assurecl and we will all share indirectly in the benefits which they have enjoyed since birth. But our concern has to be focused on those who, by the accident of birth, have not shared in such advantages, and whose future is very much in question.

It seems clear by now that a school system that has in its care such children roughly five hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year, cannot perform its fundamental job, and provide at the same time all the other social and cultural resources which these children have no other way of accessing. In many parts of the country now school programs are being designed which strive to make the schools community centers which provide not just academic training, but a full range of health services, family counseling, recreational and cultural activities. Such programs often run 15 hours a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year, and involve the services of a whole host of social service workers, health personnel, counselors and parents, and provide to the children a whole range of activities and support wluch are not withm their reach today. The results in terms of behavior, as well as academic achievement have been very impressive, and the additional cost is very modest indeed. That is the sort of approach which I think we must begin to employ in at least some of our schools, in some of the more economically deprived neighborhoods.

There is plenty of room for innovation and experimentation as long as it is undertaken in a thoughtful and coordinated fashion under the guidance of the local Board of Education.

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