Get in the game for world-class education

The brilliant documentarian Ken Burns tells a story about at time when he was asked to deliver a high school commencement address. A friend told him, “Just don’t say, ‘Your future lies ahead of you.’ ” So, Mr. Burns, a historian by default, delivered an address on the theme:  “Your future lies in your past.”

Ken Burns’ twist on his friend’s clumsy advice made the point that our futures are almost always dictated by how we have led our lives, and most particularly by our educational experiences before graduating high school.

His truism applies to all of us as individuals, but the same can be said for the Grand Valley itself.

The future of this valley will be dictated by the quality of the K-12 educational experience we can offer our kids.

I am a member of the Grand Junction Forum, which today announces its “500 Plan” to recruit 500 tutors from the community to enhance the amount of learning time for all kids — struggling or not — in District 51.

To be clear, the Forum did not take on this project because of a concern that the district is failing. Rather, it started out of a desire to create something extraordinary in this valley — to create a world-class education system. Something that would be the envy of the nation. And dreams like that rarely begin inside a government bureaucracy such as a school district.

The dream of creating a world-class education system in the Grand Valley is selfish on my part. I am a businessman and a father. I want this valley to thrive economically.

The connection between economic development and a community’s education system is undeniable. Communities that value education raise kids who value education who tend to be more capable, more industrious, more culturally interested and therefore more successful. And communities like that are attractive to commerce and industry.

As a father, I want my kids to have extraordinary educational opportunities here. I want them to have a head start on their national and international counterparts. I want them to value learning, live culturally rich lives, understand the payoff from hard work, and — I hope — stay and raise their kids in the Grand Valley.

To be certain, our local system of K-12 education faces daunting challenges today. It would be easy to sit on the sidelines, criticizing the district for its shortcomings. With the “500 Plan,” we at the Grand Junction Forum are asking you to get in the game.

Become a tutor. Affect a child’s educational experiences.

Get your cleats on.


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