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Officials want input on public education

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Education leaders are soliciting input from citizens on issues pertaining to the future of public education in Georgia.

"The joint Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) are working together to create a new vision for public education in the state of Georgia," said Henry County Schools Superintendent Michael Surma.

The two associations began their initiative last July, according to GSBA Communications Director Laura Reilly.

Reilly said the initiative, known as "A Vision for Public Education in Georgia," is being introduced statewide to communities at meetings designed to provide residents an opportunity to voice their thoughts and ideas about education and the future of public education.

The organizations plan to hold eight "community conversations" through May 10, at schools and education centers around the state. The next such meeting is set to be held Thursday, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at Henry County High School in McDonough.

The purpose of the meetings is to "let people know about the vision project itself, and to give them a chance to talk in small groups and give their thoughts about education," Reilly explained. "The discussions will center around what people see for public education in the future."

Reilly said residents have discussed, in previous meetings, the use of technology and how it will impact schools and teachers in the future. Other topics of discussion have been distance learning, school curriculum, and education funding.

"We've discussed what's good in education that we need to preserve," she said. "And on the other side of that is what needs to be changed."

Reilly said seven main topic areas will be evaluated by the GSBA/GSSA initiative planning team, which is made up of superintendents and school board members. The topic areas include: teaching, learning, and assessment; culture, climate, and organizational efficacy; project timeline; supports for early learning and student success; financial resources; human and organizational capital; and physical resources.

"With all the things happening legislatively in Georgia and around the country in education, this initiative is truly a way of looking at starting a clean slate -- not one little piece at a time, but with a holistic approach," Reilly continued.

Reilly said input from the upcoming meeting, from educators, parents and students alike, will go into a report of new and updated strategies schools may use locally to improve public education.

"The success of this initiative requires the active participation of as many citizens as possible," Reilly said. "These community conversations are their first opportunity to be engaged in this process."

Thursday's meeting will be held in the commons area of Henry County High School, located at 401 East Tomlinson Street in McDonough.

"We fully intend to take and use the feedback we get as we continue on our path to develop a vision for the future of public education in our state," said GSSA Executive Director Herbert Garrett. "Those who attend will certainly get a clearer picture of our project, our reason for taking it on, and what progress has been made up to this point."

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On the net:

A Vision for Public Education in Georgia: www.visionforpubliced.org