Welcome to 2020! I hope your holidays were filled with joy and happiness and the new year is off to a great start. This time of year is always an opportunity to look ahead, set new goals, and plan for the future. We often do this in the context of what is happening in the here and now, focusing on events, conversations, and trends that are part of our own immediate surroundings. Unfortunately, we sometimes neglect to look at the bigger world around us.
A common perception is that we are living in a time filled with unprecedented social and cultural change. That perception is not unfounded with many tragic events filling the news, the growing awareness and rightful acceptance of a variety of different lifestyles and ethnic diversity, and technology changes that have transformed how we receive information and communicate with others. But are we really living in a time that is unique?
A hundred years ago people were also preparing for the start of the ‘20’s, the 1920’s. The decade saw two amendments added to the United States Constitution. Both had a huge impact on the country as one gave women the right to vote and the other started the era of prohibition.
In September of 1920 a cart containing a massive explosive device was detonated on Wall Street. Hundreds were injured and 38 were killed in the attack that was allegedly carried out by anarchists. At the time, it was thought to be the worst act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil.
In 1921 a national quota system was established by Congress called the Emergency Quota Act. The act was meant to curb the number of legal (yes legal) immigrants coming into the country.
On the media front, the first commercially-licensed radio station broadcasted live results of the 1920 presidential election. By 1923 more than 600,000 radios and over 700 commercial radio stations were bringing the latest news, information, and entertainment to Americans across the country. The decade also saw the start of talking motion pictures and the first experiments with a device known as television. The start of mass communication had begun!
The decade also experienced a booming economy that ended with the historic market crash in 1929, the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by Charles Lindbergh, and a sitting U.S. president dying in office from a heart attack.
One hundred years ago the events of the day created a mood and tone in the country and influenced the decisions and actions of those living during that time. We, too, are subject to and influenced by cultural and societal events taking place in our era. It is important to keep in mind that we must learn from our history to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and yet take full advantage of the accomplishments that are now part of our foundation.
I’m excited for the year ahead and approaching the journey with a refreshed and refocused perspective. Through whatever chaos and turmoil, trend or breakthrough that is taking place in our world, we must continue to commit ourselves to carrying on our vision to always put Students First and Inspire, Educate, and Celebrate.
Have a safe and successful 2020!
Glenn Maleyko, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Dearborn Public Schools