Reporting on a Harford Education Leadership Conference held in April, the co-host Harford Business Roundtable for Education begins a summary of work group feedback by outlining common themes:
This is the third in a series of reports on the education conference published in The Dagger.
After the presentation by our local educational and political leadership as well as [President of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools] Dr. Cram, the community stakeholders were divided into groups to discuss their respective views on the challenges Harford County’s education system is confronted with as well as possible solutions to those challenges.
Below is a consolidated summary of the workgroup feedback. We have attempted to make sure that the essence of each view expressed is included in this summary. Some recommendations and views were combined, paraphrased or restated. We do however believe this is an accurate reflection of the views of the participants.
Common Themes: There were some issues/recommendations that were expressed in every work group and therefore these represent the most common themes.
– While many agreed that communication has improved, there must be an even closer working relationships between and among schools, government agencies and the broader community to ensure that there is a common strategic direction. While it is the primary responsibility of HCPS, all of our leadership must be focused on student achievement.
– There must be a greater alignment of school system, government and community resources. With a reasonable effort resources can be shared and efficiencies realized. This will promote not only economic benefits, it will by necessity cause the various agencies to work more closely together. While examples of existing cooperation can be identified, this needs to be expanded and there needs to be more follow through on agreements to cooperate.
– HCPS should tap into or develop additional innovative and sustainable partnerships that have defined outcomes.
– Although the school system is moving in this direction, there must be even greater consistency in the availability of educational programs to students throughout HCPS. While ideally each school would offer comparable programs on site, where that is not practical HCPS should explore ways to address logistical obstacles, possibly through technological solutions.
– There needs to be better communication, awareness and interaction between the various stakeholders groups. While it is important that leadership is communicating more effectively, there need to be ongoing forums (such as this Conference) that include all stakeholders and that all are part of the decision making/priority setting process.
– It is important that schools retain the human element in education. Meaningful relationships between students, teachers and parents are more important than technological solutions. Systems such as “Edline” have been exceptionally beneficial and HCPS should ensure even great compliance in its use by ALL teachers AND schools. However, this cannot replace the importance of pursuing the admittedly ellusive goal of frequent parent- teacher interaction. Moreover, research shows that students who have at least one strong relationship with a teacher or administrator to do better in school and HCPS needs to find ways to improve this process.
– Improve the use or technology for both educational and operational purposes and ensure equal access across the HCPS system.