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


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


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


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.