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The Future Of Learning: Parents And Students Don't Agree On Everything


Credit PCSD

The Future of Education open house attracted a room-full of parents, teachers and students. It was conducted by the Consulting Team of GSBS and was the first of several public input sessions hosted by the Park City School Board and Administration. Carolyn Murray attended the meeting and has this report:

The conference room at the Sheldon Richins Building was at capacity. The Park City School Board, the Superintendent and the Master Planning Steering Committee members were in the audience. Also attending were parents, students and teachers. School Board President, Andrew Caplan told the audience they don’t want to make the same mistakes made in 2015 when the school bond was voted down. He said the Master Planning process will continue until spring of 2019 when final recommendations will be made to the Board of Education.

“We know what our values are. We know that the community values local schools. We know the community values small class sizes. We know the community values a very wide plethora of community programming. But, what specifically do we want it to look like and when we get all that input, those decisions and that input is going to help define what our facilities look like. Not the other way around.”

The education planning expert with GSBS, Victoria Bergsagel, said the Future of Education Summit with teachers and the Steering Committee on Tuesday will begin to identify the needs of students and teachers in the 21st century.

“Probably at this point in time, now more than ever, the world is changing. So, how will that reflect upon our kids and providing them with a great future? So, we’re going to begin to explore some of that research together. We’re going to listen to student voice. We’re going to do this community summit. I believe in real principle driven design. So, I believe the community needs to rise-up. What will be some of our guiding principles for design? What’s going to be really important to us?  Because, later down the line, when we get to the point of making any kind of decision or recommendation to the School Board, we’re going to want to have based those decisions on what we believe about students and how they best learn and what is best for our community educationally.”

The audience was asked to provide some rapid-fire commentary on what they want to see for the future of education. That session lasted about 10 minutes and issues like later start times, academic success and greater overall student engagement were listed.  (The full list is posted below.)  

There were several students who asked that the teachers get support and training in how to deal equitably and compassionately with all students.  Annie Sheinberg and Liv Potter are both seniors who attended Monday’s meeting and gave input publicly and then provided comments for this report. They found some of the parent comments to be misguided and in their words, surprising.

Potter said she doesn’t agree with many of the comments made by the parents in the audience. She said early on, kids love school, they’re engaged and active in their learning. She said by the time she got to high school, she no longer loved going to school. She said sitting in rows of desks in brick-walled classrooms all day long and navigating all the different teacher relationships with some who like her and others who don’t, is not inspiring and doesn’t engage students. She said kids are exhausted from school starting so early and sitting inside a classroom for the entire day, is unbearable. She wants all teachers to learn how to relate to students equitably and said it would foster more learning and satisfaction for everyone.

"I think it was super interesting and a little bit shocking to hear everyone’s opinion. Because you have parents on one side that are kind of like, more college stuff and more rigorous academia, more technology and then there’s us who are like Whoa, whoa whoa…and then it was Dr. Gildea who asked us at the very end if we thought that all of our teachers cared. If they cared and if they wanted to have relationships with us. And, then she said, I’m sorry if we have to focus on our content.”

Both Potter and Sheinberg don’t beleive academic content is more important than the relationship and respect between teachers and students.

“You’re the superintendent and you think that content and student teacher relationships are different things. Because I believe they are the same.  I think if you are a teacher and you are teaching kids, the way you teach is the same thing as the content you are teaching because those things intertwine and overlap, and they should not be different because you should have them both at the same level of respect.”

They both said there are inherent biases that are brought in to relationships in the classroom. Potter said the lack of racial diversity within the faculty adds another complicated condition that affects kids who are not white.

"Here in Utah, when it comes to race, when it comes to the one kid in the class who is quiet, when it comes to gender, when it comes to sexuality. There’s a lot of complicated social biases going on here in Utah, especially with park City being a culture that is quite different from the rest of Utah. And having teachers come from allover the state and all over the country and it creates a whirlwind of teachers and experiences. And a lot of times, kids can’t even handle all of the teachers treating them completely different all the time.”

Potter and Sheinberg conducted a survey of their peers and the results of that survey will be posted with this story on KPCW.org.

Below is the list of community issues brought up during public comment at the Future of Education Public Meeting on October 29th:

Academic program relevant to their future

Concurrent enrollment….graduating with associates degree

Support the whole child,  social and emotional well-being

Community buy in

Learning center success…use that to engage outside of the box… installing best practices

Partner with other organizations and not expect the school to be all things to students

Creative learning environment

Schools as center of community

Technical training..such as EMT training

Consistency within the schools across the schools

Student voice should be part of it

Life skills like how to learn debate and influence people-Diet, nutrition finance-Critical life skills

Increase in college readiness…most kids stay in state and when they go out of state, most return because they weren’t able to make it work

Variety of classes that incorporate current events…political issues, talking about things of cultural and

Social relevance…part of college readiness

Programs encourage the love for learning and not only taking tests

Accommodate different learning styles

More engagement across all socio-economic groups…all students needs be met

Alignment with priorities identified like transportation, social equity, look at goals with city and county priorities. Integrate and educate young people with all the things being done in the community

Teacher incentives and get rid of bad apples

Cutting edge technology---medicine, business, it’s not just STEM that uses technology

Learning how to use the technology…Technology is not reading a book on your laptop

Teacher student relationships…took a survey out to the whole school…..biases, teacher relationships

If students don’t like the class… they don’t do well. We don’t talk about this issue….

Teachers can handle only so much..they have too much to do already, don’t add more programs to create healthy happy teachers and students…

Not heard one word about a new building….maybe it’s not the problem…

More mastery and less volume….e-learning…takes students deeper.

Programs to integrate students into the business world…like PC CAPS

Not every student is college bound so what about trade school in the school district?


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