About 100 people turned out Thursday to talk about the future of education, what schools, students and teachers will be like in the future, and how technology will play into it in the first of at least six meetings of the new CISD bond committee.
This isn’t the first facilities study committee, of course, but it is a new attempt to bridge the gap between what the district officials say is needed and what the community says they need. The district does have issues with infrastructure, including an overuse of portable buildings, but last year’s attempt to push through a $54 million bond package that included everything on the wish list was soundly rejected by voters.
This is an attempt to see what the priorities are. The group that gathered was about one-third current CISD employees or former employees and the rest were people from throughout the community, including clergy, elected officials, business people, bureaucrats, and high school students.
Superintendent Diane Frost spoke briefly, pointing out that the district wants voters to have confidence in the district, and that they want to measure the district not just by test scores, but by the success of the students at every level.
Leading the committee are Jody McSpadden, who has children in the district; Bryson Morrison, whose wife and sisters teach in the district; and Leland Cook, a senior in high school.
The large group was broken up into about 12 tables of eight or so people each and asked to envision what schools would look like in 2024. What would be needed, would students or teachers be different, then they were asked to write their answers on large easeled pads.
Among their observations:
• Technology would become more pervasive.
• Schools would teach students how to find and verify information, rather than having them memorize facts.
• Schools would be where students would apply their knowledge, but they would learn the theory in homework, the so-called “flipped classroom.”
• Teachers would do more facilitating, less lecturing.
• Textbooks will likely disappear, as e-books become easier to update and cheaper.
• School years and school days will likely become more flexible, possibly longer.
• And skills and training for non-college-geared students, will still be crucial.
• Schools must engage students, either by making learning fun or making it relevant to their self-interests.
However, as Sharon Green McDonald pointed out, “You can’t take the human factor out of learning.” Students will still need support from the schools as families continue to fracture.
A consultant to the school district, Scott Milder of Cambridge Strategic Services, congratulated the district’s administrators for the new facilities study committee. Some districts for which they’ve worked simply wait six months after a failed bond package and then take the same thing or a tweaked version back to voters again.
“They’re starting from scratch here,” he said.
Future committee meetings, which are all open to the public, will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. March 27, April 3, April 10, April 17, April 24 and possibly the first two Thursdays in May. A proposal will be submitted to the school board in June.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: email@example.com