Education conversation begins by sharing ideas for the future

COLUMBIA CITY — Dr. David Dresslar, Executive Director for the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, addressed a wide group of interested Whitley County residents Nov. 9, about the status of American education and how to get from where we’ve been in the last century to where the world is going in this century. This second installment of the conversation covers the breakout session where citizens reacted to and discussed Dresslar’s presentation of, as one attendee put it, “demoralizing” statistics regarding education.Attendees broke out into 14 groups of 6-8 people to answer these questions: • If money were no object, what kind of education system would you want in Whitley County?• What are some realistic, immediate education goals for the community? • How can you play a role?Answers included the following and were echoed several times from group to group:• Begin a countywide approach to education;• Engage industry and business to teach for relevance (one of the new 3 R’s);• Establish learning communities within middle and high school;• Use technology like cell phones in school;• Use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube• Address homeschooling — involve homeschoolers, make schools more attractive;• Allow more creativity from teachers;• Teach students to think on a higher level;• Use school facilities all year round;• Start foreign language education at the elementary level;• Put computers in every student’s hands from pre-k through 12;• Consider creative scheduling such as multiple shifts for school and online classes;• Change standardized testing;• Create different kinds of assessments;• Create the best environment for each student;• Abolish grade levels;• Make connections—with parents, students, businesses, local leaders, teachers, and so on.Do these ideas spark any for you? Additional comments from attendees, included noting they each saw the same faces at any event where education and progress were discussed. This conversation needs new faces, others’ ideas, and critics. Attendees want others involved—not necessarily to agree with everything that is said, but to join the conversation. Add their ideas. Act to change the statistics, the graphs, the lists, and the future of Whitley County’s children.At the end of the evening, Dresslar said he found the response to his rather bleak presentation to be “unprecedented.” He encouraged Whitley County to take advantage of the ideas and enthusiasm generated from this first community conversation. The conversation has begun. Where will you take it? Watching for future events and activities to further develop ideas, establish relationships and make connections to move Whitley County forward into the 21st century.Note: Dr. Dresslar’s entire presentation will soon be available on the Whitley Forward website a