Does public education matter to the software community?

November 27, 2007

Does public education matter to the software community?

I know that you expected me to write something fun and exciting about some new fangled service oriented architecture platform. I have a surprise — let’s call it a Thanksgiving surprise. I want to share a story with you. A few years ago I met an amazing woman, Wendy Puriefoy.

She is not a part of the high tech community. We met because we are both alumni of Boston University and were at an awards event together. We shared our stories about what we had accomplished in our careers and I was intrigued when she told me about her work to help transform public education in the United States. It made me realize that while the world of software is indeed important, it pales when compared to the responsibility we all have to transform public education.

Wendy is the executive director of The Public Education Network. They have a simple plan — to improve our public schools so that the children in the United States will be prepared to compete in an increasingly competitive world. Here is a description right from their website :

Public Education Network (PEN) is a national association of local education funds (LEFs) and individuals working to advance public school reform in low-income communities across our country. PEN believes an active, vocal constituency is the key to ensuring that every child, in every community, benefits from a quality public education.

I really like the way the organization’s leadership defines its guiding principles:

• Public education is fundamental to a democratic, civil, prosperous society.

• Public schools are critical institutions for breaking the cycle of poverty and redressing social inequities.

• Education reform must be systemic to be effective.

• Public engagement, community support, and adequate resources are essential to the success of public education.

I have had the privilege of spend time with Wendy and see the passion that she puts into this very complicated mission. The organization works at the community level making a difference.

So, my challenge to our software community is this. Perhaps we can take a few minutes out of the fun and games of building and competing in the market and give something to the future of education. I think it matters.

About Judith Hurwitz

Judith Hurwitz is an author, speaker and business technology consultant with decades of experience.

One Comment
  1. Quality education for every student must be recognized as a vital mission by all sectors of American society. This country desperately needs more people and communities, whose business may not be intrinsically tied to education, to take the time to comment and focus on this all important and universal issue. I want to thank my former classmate Judith Hurwitz for using her space to discuss several key messages concerning this country’s education system.

    My organization, Public Education Network, believes that every child in America has the right to a quality public education. We also believe that public education is the cornerstone of a good democracy. Our mission is to strengthen public education and support the policies and practices that encourage high achievement for all children. To us, public engagement, community support and adequate public resources are essential to the success of our country. It makes our work infinitely easier knowing that we are able to reach important members of American society, like those in the Internet technology field.

    To learn more about PEN, please visit, and to learn more about our Give Kids Good Schools initiative, go to:

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