Sunday, November 21, 2010

2nd Social Mixer - Education

Good evening neighbors. Today was the second installment of the HCCA social mixer series. Once again the topic was education and once again I was the host. It was originally scheduled to take place at Kimmy's home (thanks Kimmy) but unfortunately she came down with a cold (get well soon). In order to keep the momentum going, I decided to relocate the event to my home since no one else volunteered.

Today's discussion was a very interesting discussion. All the participants are in the education field except me. Dr. Koura Gibson is a high school teacher at Ballou public high school. Derek Andrews is a counsellor at Maya Angelo public charter school. Sean Compagnucci is a manager with DCPS special education department (or something like that).

The first hour of the discussion revolved around getting to know Koura and Koura getting to know us. I was fascinated with that fact that Koura knows five languages and has lived in at least five different countries and four different continents. She also has an African Art Gallery, so I can't wait for her to host the next social mixer.

After introductions we randomly chose topics to discuss before we moved on to education. The first point of discussion was Michelle Rhee. As always there was a mixed bag of disapproval and approval of the actions Michelle Rhee took as the Chancellor of the DC schools. Most people agreed that something drastic had to happen in order to turn around schools. But within the same breath, the same people (including myself) stated that some of her drastic measures were the wrong measures to take. Never the less, everyone agrees that something had to be done.

Enough about Rhee, she's the past now, let's move on to the future....

After touching on Rhee, the discussion moved to special education. Sean works in special education, so he was our SME (subject matter expert). I've heard about DC's special education system before, but I wasn't aware of the details. I won't mention the details discussed since I'm finishing this blog a few weeks later and I can't remember the details.

Shortly after the special education discussion, the conversation turned towards describing the social ills of society that are partly responsible for some of our education problems. The usual afflictions were mentioned; drugs, broken families, violence, etc. As usual, I asked my usual question, "So what can we do about it?" Koura, quickly answered with confidence, "We need to reach out to the parents." I quickly shot back at her, "Do you mean like Morgan Freeman on Lean on Me?" Koura sharply responsed, "Exactly!" Koura mentioned creating education programs for the parents. She mentioned that we (the entire community) need to start knocking on doors and helping parents become better parents. We all agreed that this is one method to solve this multi-headed education problem, but a very difficult one to implement.

Shortly after the parents resolution conversation, the wine started to put me to sleep. I think a few people noticed and the party started to wrap up.

Once again, another great conversation about education and an opportunity to get to know my neighbors.Until the next social, have a good night.