Improving education focus in governors watch party

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 Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Watch Party attendees Homer Beard, Paul Yarger, Linda Winters and Mary Lou Harris all take the time to fill out their suggestions for public education reformation after viewing Governor Strickland’s "Conversations on Education" forum. The Watch Party took place at Reynoldsburg High School on Aug. 7.

When Governor Ted Strickland gave his State of the State address early this year, he announced he would host 12 "Conversations on Education" throughout every region of Ohio.

In the "Conversations," he would discuss his six principles of education reform and ask the audiences at the forums for their own input on how to better the public education system in Ohio.

For those who could not attend these forums, which began on July 22,  Strickland encouraged local organizations to host "Watch Parties" where they could view a rebroadcast of one of his forums and give suggestions based upon that.

"This is a real chance to send comments to the governor on your ideas on how to reform public education in the state," said Stephen Dackin, Reynoldsburg City Schools superintendent, at a Aug. 7 Watch Party held at Reynoldsburg High School.

Dackin also wished for the audience to give him their suggestions on ways to improve schools in the district.

Forum Watch Party

At the "Conversations on Education" forum in Cleveland, the governor unveiled his six basic principles on education reform. They are:

• strengthen the commitment to public education;

• create world class schools that produce a talented work force;

• build on the strength of the current education system, but be sure not to lose that strength when reforming and implementing changes;

• recruit and retain skilled teachers;

• develop a personalized education for each student; and

• use testing and assessment to help guide individualized education and understand the student’s abilities.

Strickland also proposed elongating the school year, possibly to year-round schooling, and lengthening the school days.

Reynoldsburg resident and former teacher Mary Lou Harris disagreed with that idea.

"I think the school day should be reversed," she said. "The younger children should go to school earlier or else they’ll probably just be sitting in front of the television until it is time to go. And with the high schoolers, most of them are battling to stay awake and alert during the first two classes."

She added she is not a proponent to adding time to the elementary school day.

The governor proposed compensating teachers based on their classroom performance, but Linda Winters told the Watch Party she has her reservations on that idea.

"I don’t think a teacher’s salary being tied to a child’s performance is fair for any teacher."

Dackin said the governor’s idea would likely be value added salary, meaning they would get a raise based upon taking a group of kids and moving them forward one year’s growth.

The use of technology was addressed by the governor who said technology would provide "fundamental access to transforming education in Ohio as a whole."

Winters both agreed and disagreed with that sentiment.

"Kids are very savvy with the digital information and communication these days," she said. "They work much differently than those of us in the workplace now.

"I think they’re going to come in, take over and we’re not going to know what hit us."

However, Winters added even thought she believes technology will pave the way for future learning, she thinks there needs to be more emphasis placed on teaching real life skills.

Reynoldsburg focus

After the rebroadcast, Dackin invited the community members to give their own assessment on what would be improved with the Reynoldsburg City School District.

They came up with four key points they feel the district needs to focus on.

• Making education a family affair and getting the community more involved;

• Giving assessments for performance based personalization;

• Setting a path or sharing a passion for life-long learning; and

• Having strong guidance for the students.

The Reynoldsburg residents in attendance said they think more emphasis should go toward the students who do not believe they will attend college after graduating high school.

One resident suggested the district work to push those students toward the vocational or technical schools that the district offers.

"I think we should set up kinds of training centers with companies like AEP (American Electric Power) for students who are good with wires and wiring," Linda Barry said. "In the old days, we had secretarial courses, but I don’t think those are available anymore."

Dackin said all responses would be given to the governor, and the district will keep all of the ideas given in mind as well.

"Everyone had given us great feedback and I’m excited about the opportunity to incorporate them as we move forward to the future."

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