Tough Cookies

Lucy FriedmanI’ve been strolling down memory lane ever since I attended the launch event for Tough Cookies, the new book about the 100-year history of the Girl Scouts by my friend and Scouts’ CEO Kathy Cloninger. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my weekly Scout meetings, my first lesson in the power of expanding learning time outside of the traditional school day.

What strikes me most about the Girl Scouts’ history is how long they have been successful in doing something that we in the education field currently are struggling with ourselves: establishing a system for recognizing skills and talents that go beyond academics. As a young girl, I had the opportunity to earn Art Appreciation and Dancer badges as a Brownie and a Girl Scout. If I were a Scout today, this blog entry could be one way for me to prove my knowledge of Netiquette.

In my travels to schools in New York City and elsewhere, I’m surprised by how few have taken advantage of this resource—both the enthusiastic and committed volunteer base of troop leaders, usually parents, and the rich curriculum that builds leadership skills in girls and young women—by incorporating the Girl Scouts into their weekly schedules. Given these challenging fiscal times and the decline in the number of women holding elected office in the U.S., we sure could use a few more tough cookies in our schools.

My scouting days