Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor to President Bush and former Provost at Stanford University, spoke to the general session of the National School Boards Association annual meeting today. Her 30 minutes at the podium were punctuated by frequent and annoying protests by several in the gathering, but she persevered the shouts and delivered some sound educational advice and recommendations to the thousand or so in attendance (including, hopefully, our 6 local Lee County officials). Dr. Rice also participated in some post-speech questions and answers that should prove helpful to everyone who watched.
Among her many points was a call to rely less on government for answers to educational problems. She urged teachers and administrators not to feel entitled; but rather to extend the school day, challenge kids more, raise expectations, expose children more to the arts, and encourage kids to try hard tasks, expanding their educational reach outside their comfort zone.
Dr. Rice mused about her lifelong love for the arts and music, lamenting her pre-college realization that she might not be a professional musician. Instead she focused on government, then later international studies as her vocation for lifelong pursuit. She moved the audience with her remarks about growing up in the Deep South, being encouraged to work twice as hard so she could one day be President of the United States if she wanted to. (She got a rousing applause when she added that becoming Secretary of State of this great country wasn’t bad for a little girl from Mobile, AL).
Dr. Rice remarked that students in foreign countries have an advantage over us in that they go to school longer each day and they don’t take three months off in the summer. She observed that we have advantages in the USA by allowing more creativity and innovation. She highlighted the importance of Boys & Girls Clubs in extending the school day with remarkable educational results.
Dr. Rice believes we still are failing to get female students more engaged in the math, science, and technology disciplines. She called for expanded outreach to ex-military officials and successful business people to get them engaged in “mid-career” teaching. She recommended that educational institutions need to do more leadership skills development for administrators. She remarked, “Show me a good school, and I’ll show you a good principal.”
She closed by calling attendees and internet viewers to make educational excellence a national movement. All-in-all Dr Rice delivered an excellent address. I sure hope our “San Francisco Six” took time to watch and take notes. You can be sure some of us Lee County taxpayers were watching and paying attention! We will be here tomorrow and Monday as well.