On Thursday, Nov. 29, seven members of the Mancos School Board and administration, packed up in the school's Suburban and headed out to Colorado Springs to attend the Colorado Association of School Board's 72nd annual convention. This year's convention theme was "Rise to the Challenge". The "Challenge" was the changing landscape of public education, and in particular the changes in State mandated education standards, staff evaluations, testing, and school finance.
Over the course of the convention, we attended three general sessions with presentations from several keynote speakers. Professor Pedro Noguera of New York University spoke of his experience as an urban sociologist focusing on how schools are influenced by social and economic conditions - a very interesting and inspiring presentation. The second speaker, Governor Hickenlooper, was disappointing. He had the opportunity to address over a thousand school board members and administrators, and instead of speaking about education in Colorado, took most of his time to promote natural gas vehicles. The third general session speaker, Frederick Hess, is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a prolific writer on education policy issues. Hess spoke on "cage busting" leadership by school boards and superintendents and followed up his presentation by leading a panel discussion with students from around the state.
Between general sessions, we attended a variety of hour and a half breakout sessions. We split up and sat in on sessions such as "Leading the Board: Legal & Protocol Guidance for Board Officers", "Managing change around SB 191 Implementation", "Colorado's Proposed High School Graduation Guidelines", "Board Leadership with the New Standards", "Principles and Practices of Great Governing", "Communicating about Education Reform to Parents and Communities", and several other topical sessions.
Attending this conference was good for our board members and staff. We came back tired from the drive but invigorated and recharged, ready to work though the current difficulties of new standards, new evaluation requirements and the always imposing school finance issues. We are committed to keeping our focus on students and providing them with an education that will give them the tools, knowledge and inspiration they'll need to succeed here in the 21st Century.