Public forum is part of school reform

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 24, 2006

To the Editor:

Politicians have crisscrossed the United States for decades to hold public town hall meetings and to seek citizens’ input and opinions on important issues/concerns.

Now, school boards nationwide have begun to schedule public forums to solicit parent and community input on educational issues.

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Parent/community involvement is critical to the future survival of public education in America.

Today’s parents are looking beyond the surface of a school district.

They do not take things at face value.

Many want to be well informed of the school district’s infrastructure.

More importantly, they have come to realize that school policy makers and educators’ credibility is tantamount to accountability.

Openness is a wise policy and practice for public school boards.

A member of the public has a right to free speech in an open forum.

However, intelligent individuals do not use this as an opportunity to create controversy, make personal attacks, or to invoke criticism.

One top priority of a public forum is for education leaders to communicate to the citizenry a school district’s goals and activities for an academic year.

The session also allows for problem solving discussions.

The public forum is a school board’s “open house” to the broader community.

It is a form of community dialogue.

Engaging the public is now a form of school reform. Public dialogue can generate positive action-oriented results.

It is more than just talking or offering lip service.

The forum gets communities mobilized to support quality public education.

School boards should schedule at least two public forums per school year.

Gerald Shirley


School of Discovery

Selma, Ala.