We are committed to two things:
Creating independent schools that help their local communities flourish.
Creating the conditions in communities that help independent schools flourish.
Here’s why: higher education is broken.
Many colleges and universities are too large to create authentic relationships with their students. The value of higher education is under attack because of its cost (too expensive), its culture (too given over to the freedom of faculty and students to do what they wish), and its results (too few graduates, too little learning, too little good for the public). Many colleges and universities, though they provide some local community service, have their eyes set on bigger things--global impact, national prominence, size and power.
Many communities are broken as well. While some places flourish, others struggle for lack of jobs, for a decline in public life, for discord and division between those who flourish and those who don’t.
Of course things have always been this way. But there are both challenges and opportunities right now that make this the time to more closely link independent schools and the communities that surround them.
First, the challenges.
The higher education media tends to focus on large public schools and prestigious private ones. This means that the vast majority of schools--small in enrollment and local in impact--get overlooked. As a result, the public rarely hears about the wonderful things that take place in small colleges across the country. Nor does the public have the opportunity to scrutinize those same small schools--to ask if the programs, majors, and activities they claim as distinctive are, in fact, anything special.
Similarly, small communities and neighborhoods in large cities are overlooked. Brooklyn, and Raleigh, and San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, and Seattle and Washington DC drive the culture and set the expectations for what communities and colleges should be like. But there are millions of people who don’t live there, and whose lives and communities are overlooked when it comes to resources, attention, and public policy.
Second, the opportunities.
This is the moment for small and local things. Craft beer is better than Budweiser, artisan bread than Wonder, local food is tastier than mass-produced food, local relationships are more meaningful than distant ones.
Small, independent colleges are better than big ones. Students learn more, they have more meaningful experiences, they create more meaningful relationships.
And with the fracturing of national life, the opportunities to improve the lives of people are much more powerful in local communities, through local efforts, and via local schools than they are through national legislation and nation-wide programs.
This is why we are committed to creating small schools that serve communities, and the conditions in communities that lead to the flourishing of small schools. Because together small schools and local communities can flourish. And without each other, small schools will shrink further from influence and local communities from power.
CraftEducation, then, is our effort to take advantage of the local moment to create a better future--one where change is linked to place, where students make communities better, and where learning flourishes in the local and particular.