Friday, September 20, 2013

Choice Symposium

Choice in education is the best choice possible, speakers said during a one-day symposium held recently at the University of Texas in Arlington. The gathering was held Sept. 12 and sponsored by Grand Prairie ISD, a 27,000-student public school district.

The UT-Arlington event, titled “Choice: It's Role in Public Education Today,” attracted state leaders, school superintendents, principals and national experts in education reform. Speakers at the symposium included SBISD SKY Partnership’s MandelĂ© Davis and KIPP Houston Public Schools founder Mike Feinberg, Ed.D..

Grand Prairie ISD Superintendent Susan Hull, Ed.D., spoke passionately and with eloquence on the importance of family choice. “Folks want to make choices, they want to be responsible for their student’s education.

Meeting the needs of our parents is what we have to do,” Dr. Hull said. In other compelling speeches, speakers noted that we are no longer living in the days of yesteryear, but we must live in the now and hardwire our students to be successful in whatever career path they choose. In addition to Dr. Hull’s keynote talk, the SKY Partnership team presented insights and a first-hand look into the benefits for a public school district in partnering with charter organizations. Simply put, adding charters increases choice.

Charter schools alone are not the answer, but a great opportunity, Dr. Feinberg said. SBISD through its SKY Partnership now offers middle school charter programs at two campuses. KIPP Courage College Prep is housed at Landrum Middle School; YES Prep at Northbrook is based at Northbrook Middle School.

Over time, these programs will offer a high school charter program at Northbrook High School. Other symposium presenters included Texas State Senators Royce West of Dallas and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills; J. Puckett, senior partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group; Todd Williams, executive director of Commit!, a Dallas-based, nonprofit educational group; and David Anthony, CEO of the Austin-based nonprofit, Raise Your Hand Texas.

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