If you have not met Dr. S. Dallas Dance, the new Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, you are in for a treat when you do. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Dance deliver the keynote address last week at the 11th Annual Baltimore County Youth Symposium.
Dr. Dance is articulate, passionate and a visionary. He very eloquently made his case as to why educators, parents and elected officials in Baltimore County need to re-examine the way they approach public education. Instead of celebrating the fact that Baltimore County boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the country, Dr. Dance highlighted that fact that over 34% of his students do not graduate at all. The rate for African American males and females is substantially higher. He made the case that it will take new and innovative approaches to transform the way we prioritize our goals for educating the leaders of tomorrow.
As the head of the 26th largest public school system in the country with 107,033 students, Dr. Dance spoke of individual schools being a “community”. He pointed out that each school has its own unique needs and challenges, and that is exactly the approach he intends to take. He shared with the audience his Blueprint 2.0, which is a five year strategic plan focused on improving academics, safety, communications and organizational effectiveness.
As Dr. Dance approaches his first anniversary on the job (he started in July 2012), he seems intent on challenging the status quo. This is exactly what we need in a visionary educator. As a 31 year old African American educator, Dr. Dance reminds me of a young Freeman Hrabowski, the dynamic President of UMBC, who has gained national acclaim for his own visionary leadership in education.
The entire Baltimore region needs to work in partnership with Dr. Dance to help him transform Baltimore County Public Schools into a system of excellence. We wish him much success on his journey and look forward to working with him.
Jonathan Oleisky is President of Kalix Communications