Though theories about challenges facing the American education system and their potential solutions differ drastically among political, business, and education leaders, all those invested in reform agree that the situation calls for serious thought and decisive improvements.
Facilitating that dialogue, APU’s School of Education invited the California State Board of Education president, Michael Kirst, Ph.D., to lead the conversation with more than 60 educational professionals, including 15 local and regional superintendents, as well as school board members, K–12 administrators, and faculty, staff, students, and administrators. Held September 26, 2013, in partnership with the Azusa Unified School District, the lecture and subsequent discussion provided an overview of the educational reforms under way in elementary public education, focusing on topics such as implementation of the Curriculum Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Assessment system, the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), State Board of Education issues, and facility needs.
A professor emeritus of education and business administration at Stanford University, and two-time president of the California State Board of Education, Kirst stands uniquely qualified to identify both the challenges and opportunities regarding local and state educational issues. “Dr. Kirst possesses a strong working knowledge of instruction and curriculum matters and has proven extremely influential in education policy issues,” said Kent Bechler, Ph.D., associate dean for external partnerships. “I respect his openness to hearing reports from the field and considering the thoughts and ideas of superintendents as he participates in discussions at the state level. These collaborative conversations promote critical insight into public education in this country through the lenses of those closest to issues that impact it. By providing a platform and gathering key professionals, APU helps amplify the voices of those positioned to effect change in California schools.”
Azusa Pacific education graduates comprise a significant percentage of those voices. “Our ranking as seventh in the state, based on the number of credentials offered by schools of education, gives context to APU’s influence in educator preparation,” said Anita Henck, Ph.D., School of Education dean and professor. “APU graduates carry both the privilege and responsibility of leading the way to a more effective education system. We aim to expand APU’s goal of developing difference makers in public education. Opening the dialogue with key personnel, education students and faculty, and local educators represents an important step toward that goal.”
By facilitating these important discussions, Azusa Pacific serves as a hub for the dissemination of critical information and a center for leaders in the field to work together toward effective education reform. Such events deepen relationships between APU and its K–12 partners, strengthen the university’s impact on and involvement in public education, and heighten APU’s influence and relevance in efforts toward reform. APU plans to continue this momentum by hosting and sponsoring partnership activities throughout the year, discussing creative solutions, offering professional development opportunities, and working collaboratively to significantly impact children and their education in a positive and lasting way.