Locals help ‘reimagine’ education at forum

FFA students Sebastian Garcia, Tyson Miller, and Gaby Santa Cruz discuss ideas, along with advisor Nita Bozarth. With them were FFA members Eric Santa Cruz, Tiffany Berquist and Dominique Silva.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
FFA students Sebastian Garcia, Tyson Miller, and Gaby Santa Cruz discuss ideas, along with advisor Nita Bozarth. With them were FFA members Eric Santa Cruz, Tiffany Berquist and Dominique Silva.



“Cradle to career” education and social support, starting at childbirth.

“A measurably positive school culture.”

“Focus on critical thinking skills instead of facts and data.”

These were some of the ideas expressed at a “Reimagine Education” forum on May 26 at Best Western Plus Hood River Inn, attended by 47 people from Hood River and Wasco counties.

Participants brainstormed at tables after a welcome by Superintendent Dan Goldman, Hood River County School District, and an overview by Salam Noor, Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Education. The forum included students, parents, teachers and administrators, and other community members. District board members Chrissy Reitz and Mark Johnson attended.

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SALAM NOOR listens to a small group session.

“This is about reimaging what we are doing and how we can improve it,” said Noor, who is convening a series of forums around the state, aimed at creating an “Oregon State Plan” for schools under the new Every Student Succeeds Act from 2015, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act. Under ESSA, the state “is afforded the opportunity to rethink and reimagine education in the state,” Noor said.

The questions in front of the forum participants were: What school characteristics are most important? How should we measure school success? How do we ensure all students are successful?

A group of Hood River Valley High School FFA students formed one table, with their advisor Nita Bozarth. The students emphasized the need for schools to encourage and support school clubs and programs such as FFA that give students practical, interactive learning, and critical thinking and group development opportunities.

Student recognition and “giving students a voice” are important, said FFA’s Gaby Santa Cruz.

Tyson Miller of FFA said he was glad to see adults taking the time to hear their ideas.

“It’s really nice that they understand how we feel and how they have our best interests in mind,” he said.

Last week’s session was one of number of forums held around the state involving stakeholders, with the goal of a final state plan, pending federal approval, in fall 2016.

“It is a very aggressive timeline,” Noor said, noting that the work of the Hood River forum and others will be compiled and posted at www.ode.state.or.us/go/ESSA.



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