Demographics reflected in Community Conversations
The Community Conversations: Changing Education was a forum that covered many aspects of education. Attendees spoke to concerns about many education-related topics, from the lack of early learning centers in the area, to the need to repurpose school spaces; from the lack of physical movement and outdoor time for students to community involvement and internships.
I came away from the forum feeling good about some of the progress the ConVal School District is trying to make, but also feeling that education on the whole needs restructuring. A balance needs to be found between the learning and access of technology, and the basic need of discovery in the out-of-doors. There should be a focus on autonomy for teachers, which allows them the opportunity to share their professional expertise, without strict constraints from the district. Our students should be allowed, and taught, how to problem-solve and delve deeply into a subject, rather than have to skim the surface to pass a test.
One of the most striking aspects about the forum was the minimal turnout by parents and community members under the age of 40. The demographic of the room mirrored that of the area, and the trend in New Hampshire. I know several younger parents weren’t able to attend due to childcare issues, and busy schedules. These parents are an integral part of the community, and the conversation about education, because they are raising future leaders of the world. It takes the whole community of citizens, parents, teachers, students, business owners, social services, colleges and local schools to make positive and effective changes in the education of our children. We need to restructure, reinvest and renew education to meet the challenge of the future. One of many challenges of the future: It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a vibrant and ambitious community to show up and make a difference in his education.
The forum was a good conversation shared between community members ready to see change and to begin making a difference.
Victoria Burnham lives in Bennington.