a note to city planners

Dear City Planners:

I am a strong advocate of pencil integration.  I have been on a crusade to provide new learning tools for all of my students and to liberate them from slate-based learning.  However, the real barrier goes beyond simply a lack of access to pencils.  The real issue is a lack of access to learning.
  • If you want students to understand art and the deeper implications of the humanities, why is there only one public art museum in our city?  And why is the museum so far from schools?
  • If you want students to participate in civic activities and become better citizens, why is nearly every public civic institution so far away from our school?  
  • If you want students to access knowledge instantaneously, why is it that you don't provide public access to telegraphs?
  • If you want students to be literate, why is it that the public library is miles away from our school? Why not build a bridge between the two institutions instead?
  • If you want to build a public school, where education is truly an extension of the public, why are you selling so much of it to corporations?  Why are you seeking corporate rather than public input?  And more importantly, why are you building walls that prevent the students from interacting with the public?
See, more than pencils or photographs or phonographs or telegraphs, the greatest innovation that could happen in my school would be to make it public again.  I visited the one-room school house where I grew up and it was located next to other public institutions: the library, the city council, the post office.  While few would point to the town as being truly innovative, I was struck by the lack of barriers for students who sought access to public institutions. I know it isn't a high-tech, trendy, 20th Century idea, but I assure you that in this Era of Industry, it is truly innovative.


Tom Johnson

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