An extraordinary voice for children and schools in Erin Jones for Washington State Superintendent of Education


In a time when public schools and teachers are under attack, ineffective measures for reform are mandated, and those who have our children’s best interest at heart are demoralized, Erin Jones shines as a voice for all that is right with our children, parents, communities, teachers, and schools. It is time we stopped waging war on those who care for our children. There is a better way.

The world is complex, ambiguous, and uncertain and education is far more so than business. Yet the principles of participation, respect, caring, and team work that mark the success of businesses in our economy, are the very principles under attack in schools. I cannot help but wonder about the lack of critical thinking skills so prevalent in our decision makers. Parents, teachers, and researchers agree, the skills needed to thrive in our complex world are those being diminished through teaching to the test and demanding that students learn the one right answer to every question and be able to put that answer on a bubble test. And this is supposed to be education? Where did problem solving, critical thinking, inquiry, and the ability to build teams and relationships go? These critical skills have been stripped from our schools.

As a business person, that last thing I want is to have an employee who has to find the one right answer. What a useless skill. If only the world were so simple. Why would any critical thinking adult demand this of our children? The answer is no critical thinking adult would. Ideology and greed, not critical thinking rule our discussions. Even though privatization has proven to benefit almost no one other than those making a profit on our children, those who stand to profit on our children have a loud voice and lots of money to support their platform. If those same dollars were invested in our public schools, if our teachers were payed well and treated with respect, and if our principles and superintendents were trained to lead humans and no just manage cost cutting, we would be excelling in education and our children would be learning and growing.

This is where Erin comes in. She is smart, an award wining teacher, innovative, and a compassionate leader. Erin is exactly what our state needs in a time where the most important decisions in our children’s lives are being made in such a way as to destroy their futures. This is certainly the case with our minority children. If you are in Washington State and can support Erin Jones, please do. Find out more on her web page. Dr. Ronald Holmes also wrote an excellent article on Erin’s background.

Camp Snowball was an outstanding week

group picture from Camp Snowball 2015














We had 21 states, 4 countries, and over 300 children and adults all focused on systems in education. What a fantastic experience. I met so many nice people and most assuredly will have friendships developed from the camp. It was particularly nice to talk with so many people on the front line of trying to help our children. I am motivated to continue to reach out and explore ways to connect with this community and contribute. We had excellent speakers including Yong Zhao, Janice Jackson, Dennis O’Donoghue, and of course Peter Senge.

Each person participated in a core module for 13 hours of the camp. I participated in Stepping into a New Leadership Role: Tools for Creating a Learning Culture by Mike Maryanski and Dawn Wakeley of Tahoma School district, the district my daughter attends. All helping lead that session was Ed Porter. A great session with great interaction. I met lots of people from Portland and a very cool person from Mexico, Sam Sims.

We had a wonderful graphic recorder for the event and I have posted links to his recordings of each of the five days at the camp.  His name is Bryan Coffman. First time I have experienced his work and it is wonderful.

Monday Graphic Recording

Tuesday Graphic Recording

Wednesday Graphic Recording

Thursday Graphic Recording

Friday Graphic Recording

If you ever doubted the power of conversation, read…

Three Cups of Tea. What a life changing book. Not only is this book about a powerful strategy for healing the world, it is about what we should be doing, being in conversation with others in the world so that we can build bridges and schools rather that attack and demonize those who like us are simply trying to take care of their friends and families the best way they know how. What is absolutely clear to me is that the only way to understand others, to build relationships, is through conversation. As Margaret Wheatley says, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.”

This is indeed the essence of leadership. Simple honest human conversation. When was the last time that you had a simple honest human conversation with your team members, your family, your friends, or those you simply do not understand? This is a question that we must all ask ourselves. Only through conversations will we ever connect and help others grow, learn, understand, and thrive as humans. This is our opportunity as humans. As I read Three Cups of Tea I was struck with not only Greg’s passion and abilities, but his willingness to open his heart and simply be in conversation with others. Because he was able to listen and learn, his heart and the hearts of those he hoped to help were opened to possibilities. He saw possibilities and greatness in the people of Northern Pakistan. What if we all saw possibilities in those from other cultures, faiths, and traditions? Then simply engaged with them in conversation. We too could change the world.

It has been a while since I felt like something was so important that I needed to write about it. So in this post I suggest a call to action. Not simply an intellectual exercise, but a commitment to contribute our knowledge, our time, our heart, and our dollars to support the efforts of the Central Asia Institute and its mission to build schools to educate girls in this part of the world. We can change the world, one child at a time, one school at a time.

Engage in conversations around questions that matter. And then act to help change the world.

Your friend in conversation,