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Coastal Voices: Monday event crucial for kids

It appears as though our weather is finally shifting into spring, and oh how I welcome this change.

Change may be afoot elsewhere as well. Our educators and some parents have been busy exploring new and exciting ways in which to teach our children. They have researched and visited other schools and those involved have come back invigorated and ready to make some changes to our educational model.  This may excite some of you, while others may have concerns about any changes affecting the education of their children.

One thing in this world is certain, change is constant. We do not live in a static environment and our educational system is no different. 

But who am I to comment?   I’m not in administration, I’m not a teacher and my child isn’t even in the system yet. As I’ve mentioned before, I work for a local company which employs those who leave the school. I have a child that will someday attend school and I have been involved with the Chamber of Commerce over the years.

As a director there, I have watched how our educational system impacts our local businesses.  I’m not willing to stand on the sidelines to see what happens as we begin a critical look at our current teaching system.

Sitting on the sidelines and firing off opinions is easy. Sitting face-to-face in a meeting and discussing these important issues is where things happen.  If you couple this with a perspective of being proactive, rather than reactive, then you’ll begin to understand my point of view a little more clearly.

During these challenging economic times, many organizations are forced to re-evaluate how they do business and how they can reduce their costs or, hopefully, increase their revenue. The “new normal” as some call it, will be around for a while and our educational community must respond.

The success of our school system impacts the rest of the community — and our community’s economic well-being — through stronger employees in all types of organizations. The part I want everyone to understand is that the successful design of any school system change is truly dependent upon interaction with parents and the business community.  If this interaction does not happen, school administrators and teachers have to assume to understand the issues.

 I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone to assume they understand my concerns without the opportunity to explain the details from our perspective. I’m sure they’d get some things right, but the details usually provide additional insight in constructing good decision-making for future programs. I want to provide some of those details.

 The interaction with businesses helps to guide which programs to expand or to be eliminated. Auto Shop is a good example. If we don’t have a need for mechanics, then don’t expend the funds for this program. If there is demand for this (jobs), we need to continue the program.  If folks at the schools don’t know about the demand, they may not know which way to go.

A healthy business environment creates a more sustainable community. Our businesses need quality employees in order to be successful. The success of our businesses builds capacity in various ways, which goes to our community.

This capacity comes in the form of taxes, donations to charities, non-profits, sports and sporting events, to name just a few.  It also adds capacity in the form of happier and healthier people.  Because of its depth and length, our current economic cycle clouds this perspective right now, so please don’t confuse my point. 

As a parent, I want my child to be successful, no matter what he decides to do for a living. I’m interested in working with the school system in order to accomplish this goal. His success depends on the strength of our educational system and a structured environment at home.  We have to work together in order for him to be more successful. That’s why I look at this as a team effort. If we all do our part, we all win. 

On Monday, April 11, at 9:30 a.m. at the Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center, our Chamber of Commerce is putting on its Economic Summit. This year’s focus will be the economics of education.

I would like to encourage parents and businessmen and women to participate in a very important discussion on exploring ways to educate the workforce of tomorrow.

There are no guarantees on the outcome from this discussion; this is dependent upon who shows up. Change or no change, there are pros and cons in either direction.

Space is limited so call the Chamber to register, 464-3174.  It is important to be involved because you’ll likely be impacted either way.

Jay Freeman is vice president and chief financial officer for Hambro Forest Products Inc.

 

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