On January 20, 2017 I was fortunate to be in the Washington DC area for the inauguration of Donald Trump. I was unable to attend the inauguration ceremony during the day, but I was fortunate to be invited to one of the 45 Inaugural Balls that took place on Friday night. NASSP was one of the many educational organizations that sponsored the Celebrating Education in the Digital Age Inaugural Ball. This was the only Inaugural Ball for those passionate about education. I thought I would share a few takeaways from this quick trip to D.C.
Somber Times - The mood in Washington was somber and at times sad. I watched portions of the last two inaugurations on television. They seemed to have more of a celebratory tone to them. The 2017 inauguration did not. The President's speech was dark. It did not leave a positive feeling in my gut. At the Ball, the somber mood continued. I commented a few times that people attending seemed sad. Granted, there was a heavy democratic slant in the room and the recent confirmation hearing of Betsy Devos cast an ominous look at the future of education. Even some of the Republicans in the room shared their doubts and concerns about the future of public education. The party went on, people had a great time, but you could sense worry about what the next four years might look like for education.
Protesting the President - On the morning of the inauguration, we watched local news channels report on peaceful and violent protests. 100 protesters engaged with police and military personnel around 13th and K street. Tear gas, flash bangs, riot gear and smoke bombs were used. Protesters threw rocks and bricks. Trash cans were lit on fire. A limousine was destroyed and lit on fire. It was surreal to watch. When we left for the ball, we drove within a block or two of this protest. Needless to say, I was a little concerned as we were driving by this event in our own limousine. At each block, there were armored vehicles and military personnel. The additional security added to the strange and somber mood of the day.
Emergency Personnel - It was amazing to see the amount of police and military personnel utilized to keep everyone safe. I am grateful to all of them for their service.
The Inaugural Ball - I had a great time with my wife, Michelle. She loved getting all dressed up for a date night like no other. We met a lot of great people involved in technology education. Discovery Education, Apple, Learning First Alliance, and iCivics offered great insights into their products and vision. Michelle and I were disappointed that Sandra Day O’Connor was too ill to attend the ceremony.
Rhode Island Connection - It was great to see Rhode Island’s Chief Innovation Officer Richard Culatta at the Ball.
NASSP - I enjoyed spending time with the advocacy staff from NASSP. Amanda, David, and Zach pour their heart and soul into their work. I appreciate all they do for principals across the country.
We headed back to Rhode Island on Saturday as thousands of women descended upon Washington for the Women’s March. As I reflected on the plane, I couldn’t help but think that now, more than ever, principals around the country need to advocate for our profession.