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A bold vision for education

Who holds the key to our kids’ future? (Trick question — we all do)

June 19, 2011

Education was the centerpiece of the annual meeting of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce this week.

As one of the highlights of the chamber's strategic goals, the board sought to establish and enhance partnerships in the education system.

Its ongoing efforts are worthwhile, tackling an issue that can no longer be ignored: The poor image of Marshalltown's school district is beginning to impact potential employees as they look for places for their children to go to school.

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After identifying a cross-section of members, the chamber has formed the Business-Education Alliance, a group of both education and business leaders, which will hold its first meeting this week.

While it's premature to gauge the value of the alliance, its mission is one that should be supported: This group wants to be part of the solution.

Whether identifying the needed skill sets our students will require in the local business environment, or addressing community concerns, this is a positive beginning.

The chamber's keynote speaker, Jason Glass, state director of the Iowa Department of Education focused on improvement of the State of Iowa's own suffering image.

Once a national leader in education, Iowa has fallen to the middle of the pack. Glass says areas of focus should include high expectations and fair measures, improving educator effectiveness (dismissing the 1 or 2 percent of failing teachers who undermine the credibility of the whole profession) and innovation.

Next month's Iowa Education Summit will serve as a melting pot of ideas of how to transform Iowa back to a quality education state - a leader in the nation.

But if Glass is to meet Gov. Branstad's challenge of making Iowa's schools the best in the country, the summit will be followed by action on this summit's best ideas.

Meanwhile, there is action we can take in our community. We surely don't expect incoming principal at Marshalltown High School, Aiddy Phomvisay, to rest on his laurels.

His vision is to make MHS "the school of choice" - a school the students and community take pride in.

Marshalltown needs this bold vision for the future of education.

High expectations are a key component in both Glass' and Phomvisay's itinerary. This is welcome news. We don't think failure should be an option. What if our schools were a place where students must succeed? What if our community was one which demanded it?

There are many pieces to this solution. Having support from organizations like our chamber of commerce is just one element. Getting the wide-spectrum of Marshalltown employers to help us fight for quality education will aide us. Reform efforts underway at MHS will help with key problem areas. Your participation in saving our schools will be vital.

One local leader said it best - Marshalltown is the kind of community that will take a good idea, find support for it and bring it to fruition. Our next good idea should be supporting the reform and transformation of the Marshalltown school system.



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