NANCI SWENSON: Education forum provided a good start to conversation


The 75 or so people who attended the Public Education: We Will Raise It Up forum at the MAPS auditorium last week expressed a definite interest and sense of urgency about what’s happening in Michigan — especially local — school districts. About half of those raised questions that the panel and moderator (Dr. Sheila Alles from the Michigan Department of Education) could not answer in the two hour forum.
While Dr. Alles spoke on Michigan’s plan to be in the “Top 10 in 10 (years)”, a small panel of educators and business people from three counties responded with what is already happening according to the plan and what they would like to see happen in the future.

The forum was held to educate the public; it was not a place where all questions could be answered. It will take bringing schools, staff, parents, students, the public and businesses together in each district to work on creating the opportunities, skill and tools that students need in today’s economy — in other words, to answer those questions. But, it was a place to start.

Questions from the audience included: integrating support for students (and their families) throughout the community, strategies to improve and increase literacy and numeracy at preschool ages, funding the Top 10 in 10, attracting and maintaining quality teachers, exposing students to more vocational trades, and counselor to student ratios.

So what is next? The sponsoring group “We The People – Northwestern MI” and partners would like to “continue the conversation with the public” about these issues. In the meantime, look up the plan at , attend board of education meetings, contact your school principal or superintendent, and watch for future events from We the People.

Nanci Swenson



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