Last night I was at a dinner honoring Don Katchur, who has been the executive director for the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) for 28 years. The room was full of individuals with whom he had worked over the years. The organization of curriculum and supervision was first started in Illinois in 1917 and then became affiliated with ASCD in 1943.

I thought about all the individuals throughout time who have helped to make the educational profession what it is today. What Don Katchur provided for 28 years was an unseen infrastructure of human linkages of knowledge, skills, and social bridging capital. And together they worked to make schooling better for children and for school improvement.

I am sure that when the founders first started that organization in 1917, they had no idea that it would still be going in 2008—91 years later. One person started it and others joined in. In those 91 years, women got the right to vote, we got affirmative action, special education students could be educated, and children were granted some protection against abuse.

The task—making a difference  under-resourced and poor children—is no less daunting today. It is my hope that in the next 91 years we will make significant progress again. It will take all of us working together.

By Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.