In the turmoil and chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been easy for districts aggressively pursuing school reform to put aside those initiatives and focus exclusively on the current crisis. In most of the communities where we’re working, that has not happened. Perhaps because the pandemic has exposed more starkly than ever the inequities that pervade our schools, our partners in such places as Madison, WI, Rockford, IL, and Portland, OR have stayed the course, moving forward with implementing district-wide systems of college and career pathways. To some extent, continuing to pursue change in these communities had the benefit of at least a year or more of prior planning and implementation.

But our newest partner, North Kansas City Public Schools (NKC) did not. Forced to work completely remotely with no prior experience with ConnectED, NKC doubled down on their commitment to build a district-wide system of “wall-to-wall” Linked Learning pathways in each of its four high schools. After six months of very hard work, the district has undertaken an intensive readiness assessment, worked with site leadership and teachers at all four high schools to identify pathway themes and develop programs of study, engage more than 280 employers in beginning to partner around work-based learning, and begun creating the communications tools to communicate to parents and students the exciting opportunities awaiting students in fall 2021 when implementation begins.

It is a tribute to the leadership in all of these communities that this important work has continued, when COVID-19 could so easily have paralyzed it. Thank you for inspiring us and your colleagues.