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Experts discuss education in Auburn

Public schools in peril, local parent says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Local residents will have a chance to talk education at an upcoming Auburn forum. The Auburn Branch of the American Association of University Women and the Placer County League of Women Voters are sponsoring a free Community Forum on Education from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 12 at the State Theater in Auburn. “I guess it started with the movie ‘Waiting for Superman’ and how that impacted a few of us who went to see it,” said Pam Robie Hart, organizing chairwoman for the event and Placer County Board of Education trustee. “Some of the members said, ‘I didn’t understand about charter schools before and that they are really public schools’ and some things like that. We had already been throwing around the idea of an education forum and thought that could be one of the topics, definitely.” “Waiting for Superman” follows several children through the traditional public school system and analyzes the problems and impacts it has on its students. Robie Hart said the option of charter school education is scheduled to be a main topic at the forum as part of the concept of parent/student school choice. Other topics include educational technology, pay for performance and the goal of having students graduate from high school ready for college or a career. Pay for performance is the idea that if a teacher goes above and beyond in his or her classroom, he or she should receive additional pay, Robie Hart said. “Right now teachers have tenure, so they are pretty much guaranteed their jobs after their tenure,” she said. “Pay for performance would be one to say, ‘You know what? You are doing a darn good job and we want to recognize that. Suzie may not be doing as good a job as you are, so she can still get her base pay and you can mentor her.” Robie Hart said although these topics could get the ball rolling with the forum, she wants community members to mostly lead the discussion. “I don’t want to make it go a certain direction,” she said. “I would rather it flow to what the community is most interested in. But I wanted to give the speakers some parameters on what they could prepare for.” Auburn resident Rob Haswell, who has a second- and fifth-grader in Auburn Union School District, said he thinks the forum should focus on one basic topic. “I think that the funding crisis that faces this state and public education is the only thing that is of issue at this point,” Haswell said. “I think that public school is on the precipice of annihilation, which will mean the end of the American dream as we know it. To me public education has always been the cornerstone. That is in peril and that is my feeling, so any conversation about anything else … that’s looking for pebbles in corners when we have a giant boulder sitting in the middle of the room.” Michele Schuetz, superintendent of the Auburn Union, plans to speak at the event, and says she hopes to highlight how important technology is in schools. “The focus for us is technology as we move forward,” Schuetz said. “E.V. Cain is now a 21st Century S.T.E.M. Charter (school). What we want to do is have a way to instruct students in the modality they learn in. We really feel our job is to prepare kids for high school and beyond. We are preparing students for careers that haven’t been invented yet, so we really need to stress the 21st century skills.” Kathleen Daugherty, superintendent of Newcastle Elementary School District, is also planning to speak at the forum. “(I’m planning to discuss) some of the differences between charter and non-charter schools, classroom-based charter schools, non-classroom based charter schools and hybrid programs,” Daugherty said. “(I hope parents take away from this forum) the knowledge that Placer County has an amazing number of fabulous public programs, both charter and non-charter, and parents are lucky to have so many choices for their children.” Also scheduled to speak are David Patterson, superintendent of Rocklin Academy, and Michelle Huntoon, of School Services of California. Auburn resident Olivia Marriott has two children at Rock Creek Elementary School. Marriott said she hopes to attend the forum. “I want to know exactly where the education system is going in Placer County,” Marriott said “Rather than sitting and complaining about what the schools aren’t doing, attending a meeting like this … we can at least give our input there.” E.V. Cain parent Glen Ikeda said he thinks the concept of enrichment programs like sports, music and art should be discussed because they are second to academics and sometimes help keep children motivated in school. Ikeda said he hopes parents will leave the forum inspired to become more involved with the schools. “The biggest problem we have in education today is our funding is getting cut,” Ikeda said. “There is no money for education. So, what has to happen is the parent has to become much more involved in either helping support the funding, or they have to volunteer support time.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Auburn Community Forum on Education What: A free community forum to discuss topics in education. No registration necessary. When: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. March 12 Where: State Theater, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn Information: Call Pam Robie Hart at (530) 823-6799