Op-Ed: Vision 2020 Looks to the Future

I was a teen at Walt Whitman High School in the 1980s.  We watched movies like “War Games” where far-fetched sci-fi A.I. devices disguised as blinking-cursor computer games threatened to launch global thermonuclear war.  Families were starting to own home computers and universities were recognizing the need to bring “computer science” programs to their campuses.

When students attended the University of Albany in the ’80s, the college had just begun to invite them to receive a B.S. in Computer Science.  Today, Albany’s computer-savvy students can choose from degree programs ranging from Cyber Security to Electrical and Computer Engineering to Informatics to Bio-Instrumentation with minors in areas like Geographic Information Studies and Neuroscience. 

And this is just one area in which my perception of the college experience is vastly different from that of my children. 

Another is the complex and competitive nature of gaining admission to college.  Another is the exorbitant cost.  Another is the lack of fluidity to change majors in many colleges.  My husband was a history major turned guidance counselor major turned computer science major, and all he had to do to make those changes was file some paperwork.  20-something years later, when my son sought to transfer from the Binghamton University School of Arts and Sciences to the Binghamton University School of Management, he was told by the admissions office that he would need to take 12 pre-requisite credits in courses like calculus and statistics, and that they highly recommended he strive for a 4.0 if he wanted to be accepted into the other school. 

Reflecting on my high school and college years is fun and nostalgic.  However, assuming that the education I received then would adequately prepare me for the careers our young generation face now is naïve. 

First of all, students exiting high school need a much more specific understanding of what they want to study.  College major-hopping is not the simple process it once was.  Military pathways are far more specific and skill-focused.

Second, today’s high school students need a much deeper understanding of the world – one that progresses way beyond isolated core subject learning – because the job market they will enter offers careers with names like “Telepresence Designer,” “Penetration and Vulnerability Officer” and “Holography and Optics Technician.”

Therefore, students need to see biology combine with coding; they need to learn video and media application in research and writing.  And, yes, we still need to make sure they can find the volume of a cylinder and use a semi-colon appropriately. 

High school education is changing.  And, necessarily, high school learning environments and programs must also change.  This is why I find the South Huntington School District’s Vision 2020 capital improvements bond so exciting. 

A YES vote supports the expansion of incredible programs and the reshaping of learning spaces that will help our students be ready to make clear, smart post-high school choices.  A YES vote acknowledges that we cannot educate today’s children the same way and with the same coursework that of a 30- or 40-year old world.  A YES vote moves South Huntington students toward a very different future, with a far greater level of preparedness and vision.

Kimberly Eagen Latko is a South Huntington resident, parent of 3 Walt Whitman alumni and an English teacher at Walt Whitman.


4 Replies to “Op-Ed: Vision 2020 Looks to the Future”

  1. Very good meeting last night, I am glad to see people opposing it. Why doesn’t the school district pay off the existing bond first ? This is a sneaky way of a vote. The president of the school board how does listen to his presentations but when we want to speak over a limited time we were denied. Nothing but a bully. Please vote no October 7. Feel free to contact me at this email.

  2. We voted the school board members in to be financially responsible for our tax dollars. We still owe on a previous bond. No where was anything mentioned about education matters only building stadiums and fancy school rooms and air conditioning. Some of these projects can be done on an individual basis. Every building needs roof and mason work. How does this all happen ? Poor management and maintenance . And we are trusting this Board with our millions and millions of dollars? The architect H2M is known for their no so good reputation. They are famous for cost overruns which will cost US more. VOTE NO and save your money. Why are so many people moving off Long Island? Property taxes and housing costs. Apparently the president of the Board doesn’t see this in his VISION, get out and see the real world . VOTE NO October 7! Sneaky Board remember we voted them in and we can vote them out!

  3. And by the way nice letter Kimberly. Too bad the Board only contacted their selective people to come out for this Bond issue. Your interest is your job working for the District. Why don’t you and the staff at SH school district take either a pay cut or no pay raise next year to help set back on taxes? I myself had to accept a no raise one year to keep my taxpayers funded job . Big business employees sometimes have to make that choice also. The only reason why people like you vote yes is because of your interest of a job. Wake up and realize what is happening to your tax bill! VOTE NO.

  4. The District has a poverty level of 50% meaning that amount of students are eligible for free lunches. I want to know the qualifications for free lunches how is it determined? Is it just a simple form with no investigation? It is our money being spent. Once again the president of the Board of Ed keeps on comparing our District to Cold Spring Harbor and Jericho School Districts. I can guarantee that these two districts do not have that percentage of free lunches if any at all. If they keep on raising our taxes for unnecessary bonds that poverty level is going to increase. vote No

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