I sometimes get so caught up in my online life, with its multi-national connections and innovative slant, that I tend to overlook what's happening in my own community.
New York State school districts vary widely in demographics, resources, guiding philosophies. While I worked as a K-12 teacher/librarian in a small, rural, public school (graduating classes averaging about 39), my own children attended classes in a larger, suburban district (graduating classes near 200).
Today, my eye was caught by this item in the "Boos and Bravos" section of the daily newspaper:
"Bravos to the Queensbury Board of Education for coming up with an innovative way to solicit public input and include taxpayers in upcoming budget decisions. In February and March, the board will host three community forums in the elementary cafeteria in which citizens themselves will 'constructively and collaboratively' address issues relating to the budget, employee benefits and the educational direction of the district. Citizens will be divided into groups and asked to come up with solutions to several problems on their own. Board members will not participate in the discussions, but instead will observe and learn. This is a new approach that will get the public more involved in the decision-making. The board deserves credit for its openness and creativity." -The Post-Star
I like the participatory nature of this BOE-sponsored workshop, and the fact that citizens are being acknowledged as both stake-holders and partners in setting education policy. In fact, it mirrors what many of us would like to see happening in the classroom: constructive, collaborative, creative problem-solving.
Bravo, indeed, Queensbury Union Free School District. I'll be there.
"Too many decisions about changes are made by people untouched by the change process." -Peter Block
"A shared vision is not an idea...it is rather, a force in people's hearts...at its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question 'What do we want to create?'" -Peter Senge
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead
Image from Queensbury High School Alumni webpage