Patriot‐News, The (Harrisburg, PA)
January 5, 2001
Author: Fred Clark
We would like to invite all of you to join us in improving the quality of education for our children in the City of Harrisburg. This challenge to save our children will require all of us to believe, work, have faith and to understand that by working together we can make a difference.
Our children need us to give it our best effort. The road before us may be uncharted, but by taking each step, one at a time we will see the light at the end of the road. Providing the best educational opportunities for our children in need must be the focus of our attention in order for the region, the city, and for us to ever be truly complete.
Despite the great odds of changing the course of our urban school system, we must have the courage to move forward. There will be those who will have doubt and those who may give up. We encourage all of you to keep in mind, nothing ever worth changing comes easy, and most of the time it comes with great sacrifice.
The vision Mayor Stephen R. Reed has for improving the quality of education for our children has to become our vision. We must share in this vision of what can be our best hope for our children’s future. This vision is something that is not unique to anyone, but it is something we must all work towards, together in this common goal, this common purpose, which is to turn our city schools into the best they can be.
What we are about to do together for our children can never be taken away from us. What a great opportunity. This is our chance, our time to get it right. We are in this struggle together. No one’s struggle is greater or worse that any one else’s. If we fail, we fail together; if succeed, we succeed together. Is this really the best we can do today for our children? Is this the best we can offer our children? We do not for think so. We believe we can do better than what we have done in the past, and now is the time to do so.
It is not good enough to say that you support the children in this effort. We need you to commit your time, energy and resources in making it work. There have been those who have been rejected and neglected in their attempt to help in the past; we ask that they try again, because the children are worth it.
All things are to be examined and brought into question, but now is the time to act in order to move our Harrisburg City Schools forward. There is one thing we believe that unites all of us in this great challenge to save our schools, and that is the love and concern for our children. There must be a better way for our children. The way to provide today is to work with us and support us in our mission and purpose.
Our children deserve better, and for those who wish for the status quo not to change and defend the status quo, and allow our children to fail, and expect our children to fail, and learn in conditions that areunacceptable to anyone’s standards, are not giving our children a fighting chance. We must give this mayor and our children a chance, a fighting chance. We are willing to take this chance for the best opportunity to turn our city schools around. For the greatest risk is for us to do nothing. We really have no choice in committing ourselves to saving our city schools. We either become the catalyst for change for our city and our region or we will fail miserably. We should act now, not because we are privileged, nor because it makes economic sense, nor because we go to church on Sunday and are reminded of it on Monday, but for the simple fact it is the right thing to do.
The question was asked at a meeting I attended about who is going to make these changes, and who is going to be responsible, and who is going to be held accountable for these changes. The answer to the question was quite simple: I am, you are and we all are, including those who do not read this. We are all going to be held accountable and responsible directly and indirectly if we do not act for greater good.
George Bernard Shaw was quoted often as saying, “Some people see things and say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?'” We can do this Harrisburg. So when you ask yourself “why not,” think, can we really afford not to? This opportunity has come. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” We can no longer be spectators waiting and watching what happens next, like some soap opera.
We cannot any longer keep ignoring what is happening in our city schools as if it is not our problem, as if it will magically go away or as if it does not affect us. I know this may surprise you, but if we all care enough to make a difference, we can turn it around. We have an obligation to those who need our help, whatever their situation, race, class, or nationality might be. The Harrisburg city schools need your help, this challenge is not mine or any one person’s, but it is all of ours.
Fred Clark is a member of the mayor’s board of control, which has assumed authority over the operation of city schools.
Copyright 2001, 2005 The Patriot‐News Co. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Record Number: 2048030