In these frenetic times, five years can seem to flash past, piling sixty months onto our lives while we are looking the other way. Yet five years can encompass mind-boggling change. Five years ago, the United States had a budget surplus projected to be trillions of dollars, the Twin Towers still rose high over Manhattan, the nation was at peace, the onslaught of No Child Left Behind testing was still a gleam in some policy wonk's eye.
But five years is also the time span needed to ramp up the kind of fundamental changes and policy initiatives that will shape public education well into the future. Five years to guide eighth graders through the maze of high school, giving them a firm footing for college or the working world. Five years to defend true science against the onslaught of "faith-based" school boards and overzealous politicians. Five years to start what can be the most adventurous, exciting, and rewarding periods in public education since Horace Mann told a graduating class at Antioch College, "Be ashamed to die before you have won some battle for humanity."