“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

— Charles Dickens,
“A Tale of Two Cities”

Oh,
What Times
We Live In
By Stuart Udell
Oh,
What Times
We Live In
By Stuart Udell
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

— Charles Dickens,
“A Tale of Two Cities”

I

cannot remember a more exciting time to be in education. I make this statement in the shadow of the pandemic and during a time of some well-publicized challenges in our nation’s equity. So, why do I say this now?

Call it the possibilities.
I have been working in and around education for nearly my entire professional career. For those of you keeping score, that is almost 30 years (I started when I was eight). And in all those 30 years, we have never had so many possibilities for our learners. Perhaps it took a deadly pandemic to blur the lines and bring our aim back into sharp focus. Perhaps it is simply a confluence of technology and space and time. Perhaps it is divine intervention. But whatever the case, it definitely poised education to change for the better.

For so many years, education seemed to be a self-serving institution, as if the learner were only a small part, and subservient to the institution itself. What seemed to matter most was the education system. Now, we seem to question everything. And all questions now lead to one place — the learner.

I was a young child in the 60s. For most of you, the decade of the 1960s is simply a part of history. Maybe your parents remember it. Maybe your grandparents do. But much like this decade, the 1960s was a decade of immense change. In some ways, the decade was a powder keg. Things needed to get done, and they did. In the 1960s, we saw the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Clean Air Act, the creation of the Peace Corps, Medicare, Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Transportation Safety Board, just to name a few.

In the 1960s, we were at a crossroads. And with great foresight and wisdom, we acted to make our nation a more just and equitable place. Few of you are old enough to remember how things were then. To be sure, we had our work cut out for us. But the important thing is, we saw what needed to be done, and we did it.

Illustration
We are at a similar crossroads now. And real, equitable access to education may be within our reach. If so, it could be the most important accomplishment of our century.

As part of that push to establish equitable access to education, we created the C.A.R.E. Committee at Achieve3000. C.A.R.E. is an acronym for Community Action for Respect & Equity and is designed to increase awareness of social and cultural issues and to change behaviors.

Led by Monique Hamilton, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Dana Davis, executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the C.A.R.E. Committee began as an internal initiative, whose preliminary goal was to generate productive thinking and conversations within the organization. It all started with a conversation, and the results are becoming tangible. You can read more about it in an article in this issue, The C.A.R.E. Committee: How Achieve3000 is Turning a Renewed Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into a Roadmap for Change.

Jumping
Also, in this issue of Achieve Magazine is A Conversation with Dr. Walt Griffin. Dr. Griffin is a rarity in the world of superintendents, having spent his entire career with a single school district. For over 37 years, Dr. Walt Griffin has dedicated his professional life to Seminole County Public Schools in Florida. From math teacher to superintendent, Dr. Griffin climbed the rungs of success at SCPS, always giving and always making a difference. It is a portrait of a life well-lived, and I think you will enjoy reading about his life and contributions to education.
In the 1960s, we saw the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Clean Air Act, the creation of the Peace Corps, Medicare, Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Transportation Safety Board, just to name a few.
We started Achieve Magazine “waaay” back in October of this past year, to be a place for ideas. We talk about what is working. We talk about the joy of learning, and we meet interesting people along the way. And remember — Achieve Magazine is your magazine. It belongs to you, the reader. Are you enjoying what you read? Let us know. Is there someone you would like us to feature? Drop us a line. We would like to keep the fresh ideas flowing, and your feedback is unbelievably valuable to us. In fact, if you have an idea, please email me personally at stuart.udell@achieve3000.com.
About the author
Stuart Udell currently serves as CEO of Achieve3000, a comprehensive suite of digital solutions that significantly accelerates literacy growth and deepens learning across the content areas. Prior, he served in CEO roles at K12, Catapult Learning, and Penn Foster, as well as president roles at Renaissance Learning, Kaplan, and the Princeton Review. Stuart currently serves on the boards of directors of Bill Daggett’s Successful Practices Network, the Learning 2025 National Commission, School of the Future, USA Test Prep, and Ventris Learning. He received the Education Warrior Award from the I Have a Dream Foundation and is a member of his High School Hall of Fame. Stuart holds a master’s from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Bucknell University.