My civic activism on behalf of public education reflects the convergence of perspectives from my experiences as an educator, a parent, and a member of several civic organizations. As an educator of young adults (medical and graduate students) I had come to the conclusion that even students who had done well in our primary and secondary education systems had not been well-served and arrived at the doorstep of medical/graduate schools with large gaps in skills and attitudes essential for making a smooth transition to self-directed learning. [I discuss these in a book chapter #22. Adelman, 2008.] My experience as a parent was that my child was NOT well-served, even by a public school system that is highly-ranked - and this perception is shared by a wide variety of parents in our county. And as a citizen engaged in civic activities I have come to realize that many citizens do not really understand how vital public education is to the functioning of a democratic society. Indeed, many citizens do not seem to fully understand what it means to be well-educated, nor do they know how to use what they have learned to maximum value for themselves and our society.

These perspectives developed over a number of years. As I approached formal retirement, I found myself devoting more of my academic efforts to teaching (vs. research) and more of my teaching time in an effort to help students understand how better to use what they had learned before coming to medical/graduate school. But it became clearer to me (and discussions with colleagues trying to address the same issues strengthened my conclusions on these points), that the 'problems' I was attempting to address derive from many issues - both educational and societal - that are outside the 'control' of the medical education system (not to mention the individual medical educator!). So I became involved in civic activism...

In the mid-1990s I worked on the re-invigoration of our neighborhood citizens association, the Kensington Heights Citizens Association (KHCA). After serving two terms as its president, I chaired the Education Committee for several more years, working to understand the public schools that serve the children of our neighborhood, and to help our members evaluate those schools and convey any concerns about them to the school system and the Board of Education. I served as a KHCA delegate to the Montgomery County Civic Federation (MCCF). While serving as Chair of the MCCF Education Committee, I testified several times before the Board of Education and the County Council on issues related to the Montgomery County Public School system. Because neither KHCA nor MCCF have, as their primary focus, public education, I have become increasingly active in the Montgomery County Education Forum (MCEF), an organization that advocates vigorously on behalf of equity and excellence in our public school system.

My membership in these organizations has lead to my service on a number of citizens advisory boards that provide input to county government and/or our school system. Most recently (2005 to the present) I have been an MCEF representative on the school system's Accelerated and Enriched Instruction Advisory Committee. And I have had the opportunity to testify and/or write newspaper columns on behalf of one or more of these civic organizations; for some examples click here. I have also functioned as an individual volunteer in a reading enrichment program, sponsored by the school system, for second grade students. And, as an individual I have campaigned for selected candidates for the Board of Education and have advocated for more citizen involvement in the election of members of the Board, as well as providing advice to Board members on issues of community concern. This has involved such activities as offering Public Comment at Board meetings, evaluating - and commenting on - proposed revisions of Board Policy documents, and speaking with interested members of the local press about public education issues. For a bit more on this, click here.

Most recently (since October 2012), I have been involved in the Stop Costco Gas Coalition, serving as the webmaster. As our website (click here) indicates, we are a civic activist group fighting the incursion of a mega gas station into our neighborhood. We are also working to educate the community, as well as local and state officials, about the dangers of such large gas facilities. In a very real sense, my activities with the Coalition reflect my view that even adults need, at times, to be educated (i.e. better informed).

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Last modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013