Groups seek new vision for schools (N&R)

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More on Sunday’s town hall meeting at Gillespie Park, courtesy of today’s N&R:

Guilford County occasionally gets the chance with a turnover in leadership to craft a vision for the education of its youngest residents.

Teachers, school board members, parents and business leaders have been buzzing with ideas behind the scenes since Terry Grier, former Guilford County Schools superintendent, announced in January his plans to take a job overseeing public schools in San Diego.

Now, two groups are inviting the various stakeholders to contemplate the district’s future.

The Community Dialogue on Education and the Guilford County Council of PTAs will hold a town meeting at Gillespie Park Elementary School on Sunday.

The idea for the meeting was sparked by the search for Grier’s replacement, said organizer Ed Whitfield. Grier ended his eight-year tenure with Guilford County on March 14 and began with the San Diego Unified School District on Monday.

The meeting is “an extension of the concern we’ve had all along that there needs to be more community discussion about what the community wants in education,” Whitfield said.

The groups will hold a panel discussion with participants breaking out to brainstorm answers to the following questions: What kind of education are students getting now? What do residents want? And, what must change to accomplish that?

Organizers also plan to steer the conversation around educating students for democracy, employment, community and meaningful life.

The groups will then report to the Guilford County Board of Education, Whitfield said.

Members of the Community Dialogue on Education are particularly concerned about the district’s emphasis on standardized testing. They acknowledge that frustration among educators and parents over the federal No Child Left Behind law may need to lead to talk over whether Guilford County Schools should sacrifice federal funding to get around the law’s standardized testing requirements.

For example, legislators in Virginia approved a bill this month that would allow the State Board of Education to decide whether the state should pull out of the federal school accountability system that is up for reauthorization this year.

“If we were going to give up federal money the community would need to step up and support (the schools) financially,” said Charlotte LeHecka, an education consultant who is a member of the grass-roots advocacy group.

Organizers hope the town meeting draws enough participation and ideas to influence the superintendent selection.

The board also plans to seek input on desired qualities in a new leader, holding five meetings in the coming weeks.

What: Town meeting to start formulating a vision for public education in Guilford County

When: 3-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gillespie Park Elementary, 1900 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Greensboro

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E.C. )

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One Response

  1. I’ve been saying for several months that GCS should refuse federal money, and everyone revolts from that suggestion and says it is not possible. Jeff Belton said that he could not imagine this district functioning without federal money. I do disagree, though, with their suggestion that “the community would need to step-up and support the schools financially”. We are already doing that. Just eliminate federal money and eliminate all of the unnecessary reporting, people, and programs that go with it, and you do not need mo money.

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