A Board of Education effort to get more parents’ feedback, plus Superintendent Peter C. Blake noting legislative challenges that can hinder the basics of students’ learning, were part of the Rome school district’s opening messages to launch the 2019-20 year.
A new survey of parents’ thoughts and concerns was announced by board President Stephen P. Hampe in a “welcome back” video message with Blake this week on the district web site.
Meanwhile, Blake’s online blog Monday addressed the need to maintain a focus on students and their growth amid ongoing legislative issues relating to the “business” of education.
For the topics:
• The new survey asks parents to identify three things each about their child’s school that pleases them, concerns them, and that they would wish for, Hampe said Wednesday. An additional space is provided for open comments, and respondents have the option to leave contact information.
But Hampe, who had mentioned in the video that the board would be conducting the survey during school open houses that began this week, said Wednesday there “wasn’t much response” at the first five open houses. He pointed out, though, that board members being present may have discouraged some people from returning a completed survey there. Also, families may not have wanted to stop to fill out a survey while gathering informational materials from various other community organizations that were represented, he added.
For remaining open houses, Hampe said “we will bring hard copies” and will “probably try to fashion an anonymous drop box for people to leave completed surveys in;” he described it as a “simple paper and pencil survey.” He added “there also will likely be an online version that is launched after the final open house,” but he wants to first confer with the entire board.
Hampe, who became board president at the start of July, said the board has discussed “being more visible and transparent,” including a greater presence at open houses. He said in the video that the board welcomes peoples’ comments and concerns, and is “open to hearing what you have to say.”
• Blake’s blog said that while the 2019-20 year is again filled with the annual optimism for children’s growth, “we also enter this school year with more uncertainty than we ever have from the legislative level.”
The state Education Department has several senior leadership vacancies including for commissioner, Blake observed. Also, “we face the full implementation of ESSA (federal Every Student Succeeds Act requirements), and we begin the year with new federal financial reporting requirements that could require schools to involuntarily shift resources from one school to another if the government does not deem there to be equity.”
“More than ever, the ‘business’ of education is taking the focus off of children and the responsibility that our staff has to helping kids grow,” Blake remarked. “As we enter the new year, it is imperative that we maintain our focus on students and their growth toward becoming productive members of our society.”
Blake added “the worst part of education is that the main consumer has little influence on their industry and most often is not aware of the forces that are exuded on our system from governmental agencies.” While education in the past may have had elements that do not meet today’s standards, he said, “the one thing that they had correct was that teachers had the freedom to be the educational artists that they are trained to be.”
Teachers and parents each day “work magic with children in teaching them not from a script, but from the heart and mind,” Blake commented. “Thinking like a child, remembering what is to be a child, and working to relate to our children is the magic that create learning. During this year, while there are so many forces attempting to deter the mission, I hope that you and your students can retain the focus of learning and being a child throughout the year....”