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February 28, 2002
Section: Local News

State school chief invites parents to talk
Repository education writer

CANTON � Parents and residents are invited to discuss their concerns about education when State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman holds a �community conversation� here on April 11.
Among the topics on the agenda are academic standards, assessments, school accountability, teacher quality and literacy.

�Part of the (aim) is to say ... �What does the community think that the district or schools ought to be doing?� � said Patti Grey, communications director for the Ohio Department of Education.

Educators and community leaders hope the public forum will lead to more involvement in the schools.

�Parental involvement in a child�s education is a key to student success,� said Canton School Superintendent Dianne Talarico.

But even broader participation � by businesses, churches, social services agencies and other community residents � is needed, say representatives of the Stark Education Partnership and the Community Education Committee, a broad-based community and corporate group that hopes to raise student achievement.

The partnership and the committee are working with Canton schools to offer Zelman�s forum, to be held at 6 p.m. at McKinley High School.

�You can only go so far as a school district� in raising achievement, said Adrienne O�Neill, president of the Stark Education Partnership. �You need to engage the community.�

The Community Education Committee, established in 2000 to help boost academic achievement by minority students, has since broadened its focus, said co-chairman W.J. �Tim� Timken Jr.

�We started to realize it�s about ... raising the performance level of all children,� said Timken.

�Everybody should be able to achieve,� agreed co-chairman Debbi Embry, president of the Canton Urban League. �It�s just putting that expectation out there.�

Embry expects some 500 residents to attend.

Zelman, who has held more than two dozen similar sessions across the state over the past three years, will first address residents, who then will break into small groups to discuss the issues.

Groups will later summarize those discussions for everyone attending, said Grey.

Information gathered from this year�s series of forums eventually will be compiled into a report that Zelman will forward to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, the Legislature and the state Board of Education.

�We hope it also brings up some possible solutions that the community can take a look at,� said Grey.

State officials also hope communities will schedule more forums, possibly annually.

�We hope these conversations will continue,� said Grey.

You can reach Repository education writer Susan R. Schell at (330) 580-8339 or e-mail:

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