New Writer Plugs into Richland 2

During the past few years of regularly attending Richland 2 School Board meetings, I noticed two trends that compelled me this past election to seek a seat on the Board. First, very few community members attend meetings. It takes a couple months of attending the meetings and a bit of time researching the agenda to effectively follow the information. This precludes parents from dropping by a meeting on an off-chance they have free time from child rearing activities. Secondly, very little discussion occurs during the public session and even less history or research is presented to the public.

Using new-found time with my youngest leaving for college, I began researching the trends of project-based learning, industrial arts programs and technology use in educational settings, to name a few. I made appointments with District employees to understand our goals, called school superintendents around the county for their perspective, picked the brain of USC researchers and just as importantly, gathered groups of parents for after-work discussions.

It seemed to me that information about the educational opportunities of Richland 2 were not readily assessable to parents. The community is asked to partnership in ways that are wider and deeper than ever before. But the Board and District Executive Office are frequently unable to get answers quickly to the public.

My unsuccessful run for School Board in Richland 2 was a disappointing loss this past November, but it did not dilute my resolve for the community of R2SD to have ready access to information about our education issues. It is reasonable to expect community partnerships and parent participation to have the “authentic experience” the District says it wants for each and every participant. So the purpose of this regular column is to report on our local educational issues, provide interesting research and fodder for you the reader.

Besides regularly reporting on Richland 2 School Board meetings, there are several topics on my radar that I will be discussing from time to time:

• What are project-based learning programs? Are they effective? How do they differ from more ‘traditional’ teaching methods?

• What are the changing demographics in Richland 2 that are frequently cited by the District? How are they specifically being addressed and change measured? How are other districts handling similar concerns?

• What are the roles of guidance counselors and social workers? How are they different?

• How does the new Student Activity Center impact the offerings at our current high schools?

• How much of a worry is our three-year downward trend in state ranking? Or SAT scores? How does the fifth wealthiest school district in the state have poor or failing individual schools?

As the months go by, please contact me with your questions and suggestions at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you and sharing commentary and reporting on a regular basis.

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