s vibrancy and the educational level of their work force.  Any way I look at this correlation, I always come away with the same conclusion: economic prosperity will ebb and flow with our schools ability or inability to turn out students that are prepared for life, college and that have a grasp of the importance of having a good character.  So if this is the case and if our community is not a thriving center of opportunities, lets focus on the outcome that our schools are producing!

Here is how I see it:

1. The community needs to set the parameters for what is expected from the schools and what the result will be when our children start and finish school. In other words, as our children start school they should already be on a track to college and when they finish high school they should be college or community college ready!

2. The focus above everything has to be "the kids".   It's not about brick and mortar, teacher’s tenure, teacher's unions, superintendents and their administrations.  No, its about “The Kids”.

3.  Every parent should have the expectation that their child will have the very best teachers possible. We should demand teachers  that will make a difference in a child's life and every parent needs to understand that they also  have a responsibility.  Parents can not just send the kids to school and expect that the school will produce educated model citizens ready for life and college. No, this has to be a collaborative effort and the parents play a pivotal role in  this.  Without the parents involvement this will not succeed.

4. School board members should be expected to understand that their job is one of extreme importance.  To be elected to the school board should require a proficiency of understanding the vastness and complexity of running a school and should also require the ability to read and understand a budget. Every board member needs to understand the connection between the setting of good strong policies and the end result of producing kids that are college ready. This will ensure a future society that is not only successful but also contributes back to society. Every elected Board member should be focused on "kids first" and there are no sacred cows, its only about the Kids.  Every decision the board makes needs to be vetted with "how will this benefit the kids".  For too long,  societies solution to the educational problem  has been simply  throw  money it and our  continuing dismal results shows this model does not work. We continue to lag behind many other countries educationally. 

5. An ongoing effort should be initiated to educate parents as to the difference they can make by being an involved parent in their child's school life.  Part of this education should be the recognition that "parents are a child's first and most important teacher. " It's reported in many quarters that the best investment a community can make in education is in early education. We should be focusing on this fact.  We can all  play a positive role in the intervention of educating parents.  Something as simple as reading to their children at an early age and doing it daily can  be  transformational  in a child’s life.  I don’t believe that there is a parent out there  regardless of their  social economic or education level,  that doesn't want their child to do better than they have done.

6.  Good teachers should be compensated with  higher salaries.   Let's pay  good teachers a higher salary.  Instead of always seeking bond issues for brick and mortar, let's make raising good teachers salary a priority. Lets also make sure that every child has access to the best tools that are out there, all this before brick and mortar.

7.  Educating kids should be a competitive exercise.  If you  can't produce the results that a parent expects then parents should have the right to choose an alternative school. Simply give parents a choice-this will improve education.

8. I know that if we don’t correct the current school outcomes, that this community, this region and country face a bleak future. In my mind the solution is not in Austin or in Washington, its right here at the local level.  The day the community decides that the responsibility rests in its hands is the day that the power to make dramatic changes shifts from the politicians to the true stakeholders, the parents and the business community.