Track My Steps (Wake County): Education Inequality Forum

From the news-observer again:

http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/public-forum-tonight-on-education-inequality-in-eastern-wake-county-schools

Track My Steps is hosting a public forum tonight on the state of education in Eastern Wake County.

Forum organizers say there is a “crisis in public education in eastern Wake County and that they want to “break the silence on education inequality.” The forum will focus on the challenges faced by Eastern Wake students and parents in the areas of early education, student discipline, student/parent rights and resources, course selection/availability and student achievement.

“Eastern Wake residents are calling for education reform in their part of Wake County to create a better Wake County,” according to the press release. “Participants will introduce a plan of action to change the perception of education in Eastern Wake.”

When I read the Track My Steps information, it reminded me a lot of what we are trying to do. I am following up with them to learn more. I also very much wonder about the details of the reform – they seem to have some important folks on board.

Plan for Houlihans tomorrow

I am thinking that tomorrow (Wednesday, May 9th) at Houlihans, the main purpose will be to drive around and deliver flyers for the next Community Forum on Education. I have contacted a few churches already, but only one has gotten back to me with a green light to post a flyer on a bulletin board. I have also contacted quite a few individuals and asked them to help me reach their own circles of influence.

 

So my plan of attack for tomorrow is to meet up at 11:30, wait until 11:40 and then take off; either deliver flyers or talk to group representatives.

 

If you want to join us, please let me know so I can print out flyers for you. Or if you just want to hang with us, that is cool also. πŸ™‚

Tonight's Open Forum

For our debut Open Forum, we had two Board Members (one for each hour :)) 4 parents and 2 media folks. And a whole heck of a lot of discussion. I cannot possibly do justice to all that we covered, especially since I am tired. But I am going to convey the notes I took. In addition, I am hoping Meg Dickinson will write up an article, and we have a video (not sure about the quality). I am also hoping that those who were there (looking at you, readers!!) will fill in the blanks and continue this conversation.

[in no particular order at all]

Climate

  • Achievement expectations are low
  • Behavior expectations are low
  • Does not support a lot of learning
  • Teachers should dig into the backgrounds of their students
  • Don’t compare students to each other
  • Turn org chart upside down
  • It is time to truly focus on kids, not adults (and not merely give lip service)
  • More diversity
  • High Mobility correlates to low Performance; schools of choice correlates with high mobility at some schools

Transportation

Reminder: Open Forum tonight, 7-9pm, Champaign Library Room 222

Just a last minute reminder, come out of if you want to join us for an open forum on Education (both Champaign and Urbana are welcome). We will be setting up in room 222 of the Champaign Public Library. I believe the room is reserved for “Education Reform Forum”. It is going to be interactive and maybe even fun! πŸ™‚

NG article about Tuesday's Open Forum

Meg Dickinson has published a great article about our forum on Tuesday:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-04-16/champaign-schools-forum-planned.html

 

Also, I have been busy making personal invitations to folks – the irony is if everyone that I have invited actually arrives, we will not have enough room. πŸ™‚ But I think that is a good think. Keep inviting folks. We can always adapt if we have too many people. And I can guarantee there will be some measure of fun. πŸ™‚

 

I am stoked!

Filling in details for the April 17th Open Forum

At our Houlihans meeting this afternoon, we covered a lot of ground. Much of it was discussing ideas for the April 17th Open Forum, although we did briefly talk about a certain candidate forum as well.

While I cannot say we have finalized anything, our Houlihans session was really good at uncovering some very nice ideas. For instance, next week we are planning on having “wondercards” (as Chuck calls them) at the open discussion on Tuesday; if you wonder about something, have an idea, a question or a comment, fill out a card. Our intention is to have a display board or three that we can group the cards on and at the end of the evening have a full board that we take pictures of and post online. These will be our proof that many people had a hand in developing ideas – far be it from us to be the sole voice. The whole point of these forums is to open up communication channels. We are also talking about using a 12-minute Ken Robinson video as a way to break the ice and jumpstart conversations.

An overall list of goals we think we want to address would be:

  • Communications: The current system of communication has a couple holes. We don’t necessarily have all the answers, but the major reason we are having these forums in the first place is to kick the tires, uncork our brains and see what happens.
  • Teacher/staff isolation: After talking with some teachers, we learned that some teachers would appreciate a little more support, and a little more connection with other teachers, not to mention with Administration and community members.
  • Student Climate: This one we intend to address bullying and lack of respect; not merely from students to teachers, but also the other way as well.

Again, this is just a working prototype, something to Read the rest of this entry »

Plan for Houlihans today

Again, anyone is welcome to drop by and join us in conversation about Unit 4.

 

If nobody shows up, I would like to turn this into a time to plan for the future of Unit 4. I want to nail down three things we can be working on (I think we have two; communication/trust/bridge building with the community, and lack of safe environment/support for teachers and school level staff that leads to isolation). I want to work on action steps and not just talk. πŸ™‚

 

Last week we talked about holding open forums. We picked two dates, one in April and one in May. As you know, we moved the April date to April 17th; Chuck has grabbed a room at the library and we have started to advertise it. We tentatively planned May 14th for the next meeting, but if Tuesday works out better we might switch it. We want to see how this first one goes and learn from it.

 

We also talked about meeting families at the Dodds Soccer Complex; an opportunity to invite a diverse array of parents to open meetings. And maybe even hold impromptu meetings. When talking with Brian Minsker yesterday, I learned that Barkstall used to (still does?) hold quick micro-meetings around already in-place events (school show, rally, sports, etc) to conduct PTA business. I thought that was an awesome idea.

 

Lastly, we discussed the idea of doing a Ken Robinson video at the open meeting just as a way to instigate conversation. Still thinking about that. One of my action items was to review the video; I think it raises a lot of great questions and it engages critical thinking, which is so necessary, I just don’t know how to weave it into our current context without coming from left field. My other action item was to talk to Chris Span about cross-pollinating with the Rose & Taylor forums. I have contacted him, and he mentioned something about including me in the next meeting. Nothing else, yet.