ConnectEd to Future Ready Leads to College, Career and Citizenship Readiness!

By Darryl Adams (@DrAdamsCVUSD), superintendent, Coachella Valley Unified School District, Calif.

Our President gets it! In fact, our President, Barack Obama is the first American President to write a line of code. To many of us in education, our President, Barack Obama is the true education president!  

In my almost 30 years as a educator, administrator and servant leader, there has been no better example of a national leader who has helped to guide the future of our system of education as our President. I was one of the lucky and honored Top 100 Innovative Superintendents in America invited to the White House in November, 2014 to sign the Future Ready Pledge! I was even more honored when the President gave my district a “shout out” recognizing our resolve to ensure that all students were connected and Future Ready! That was a momentous day because all 100 superintendents digitally signed off on a commitment to move our school districts forward. We are all committed to make our school districts Future Ready institutions dedicated to prepare our students for college, careers and citizenship in a competitive 21st century. Now more than 3,000 superintendents have signed the Future Ready Pledge and more will do so in the coming months! 

Not long after that meeting at the White House, the President met with and got some of the most forward thinking companies in America to commit resources to help school districts become future ready. Companies like Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and many others committed more than one billion dollars in free resources and support to help tens of thousands of students have a different experience in their schools. I am honored to write and share some of the many achievements that my district has accomplished -- all aligned to the President's vision of Future Ready Schools, Next Generation High Schools, Computer Sciences for All and overall College, Career and Citizenship Readiness for All. 

I am honored to serve the wonderful people of the Coachella Valley Unified School District in California. As their servant leader, I am humbled by their trust, love and collaboration. We have accomplished much together in the last five years and it all began during the 2011-12 school year when we became Future Ready even before Future Ready began. Even though we have been characterized as one of the poorest school districts in America, we are one of the richest in hope, determination, innovation and collaboration! Our district was the first in the nation to provide a mobile device, an iPad, to every student from preschool through high school, all financed by the people of our school district. I believe it speaks volumes that a community such as ours would be willing to tax themselves so that our students could be competitive. The $42 million raised from the general obligation bond that was passed in 2012 will ensure that Coachella Valley Unified School District students will have state-of-the-art technology and connectivity through the Year 2022. By then, we hope our federal and state governments are ensuring that No Child is Left Offline by eliminating the Digital Divide and providing funds so that every student will have a device and the connectivity that goes with it. 

Our district has always been in alignment with the President’s education initiatives, especially the Next Generation High School Initiative. CVUSD began to transform our high schools in 2012, as we wanted to include career academies and pathways in computer sciences, environmental sciences, construction trades and technology. Our new aviation academy, which is another first, just accepted the donation of a flight-worthy, and still functioning, $20 million dollar Gulf Stream ll jet! Our Future Ready curriculum now includes college prep curricula for every student as a graduation requirement. This is an initiative that is rarely implemented in schools, therefore disenfranchising students all over our country. The question is not whether students want to go to college, the fact is they should be prepared to go and have the option to go. All students in CVUSD will not only be college and career ready, but they will also be citizenship ready. 

I have stated in a recent post that "An Emphasis on College and Career Readiness with No Emphasis on Citizenship Readiness is No Readiness at All." As we experience one of the most contentious presidential elections since the 1960s, the importance of citizenship awareness, participation and education is as important as ever. Simple things like fact checking and researching a candidate’s position would do many of our citizens well in today's rapid sound bites and social media twitterverses. Our students are watching us and it is incumbent on us all to prepare them all for citizenship in a free and open democracy. While one can argue that people are entitled to their positions, we owe it to our students to help them understand their obligations to be positive and productive citizens, as well as to understand the importance of history and civic responsibilities. The Coachella Valley Unified School District community is Future Ready because we are people ready and collaboration ready! The question communities all over America must ask is “Are we future ready?” If the answer is yes, then job well done, if the answer is no, then time to get to work!