The Star, October 23, 2013
AUBURN — Learning Link DeKalb County hosted an open community meeting Oct. 14 at First United Methodist Church in Auburn.
Approximately 60 people heard the most recent accomplishments of Learning Link’s five action teams. During the discussion, team members turned the tables and posed their most pressing questions to audience members, looking for input on meeting their team goals.
In progress reports, parenting education reporter Melissa Eshbach announced that Indiana News Center will run the team’s parenting videos as public service announcements, perhaps as early as this month. Eshbach also stated that major revisions have been made to the parent resources brochure and website, DeKalbLearningLink.org, making the site more user-friendly to people seeking parenting programs. Revised brochures are being distributed and are also available from the website.
Jerry Yoder, reporting for the adult education and training team, shared Feb. 27 as the date of a 2014 Career Development Expo being planned by the DeKalb Chamber Partnership, WorkOne Northeast, the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership and Learning Link adult education and training team. Their objective is to attract high school juniors and seniors, the under-employed and the unemployed. At the expo, students and adults can learn about present and future job openings in the area, along with corresponding education and skill requirements.
Yoder asked audience members how to increase the number of high school students who attend the expo. DeKalb High School Principal Kyle Kirby responded, “We have to show students the relevance and be specific about how students will benefit.”
The director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership, Ken McCrory, asked the team to use the opportunity to educate students about career opportunities in manufacturing. “Kids are missing this at all levels of their education,” McCrory said.
The progress of the School-Business Partnerships team was reported by Chris Straw and Becky Pfeffer. Straw noted “a significant increase in the number of students countywide with experiential learning opportunities; the number rose from 779 in 2011, to 1,031 in 2013. We’re seeing significant progress being made with businesses wanting to partner with schools.”
Julia Tipton and Megan Curtis, in their report for the Third-grade Literacy team, said they were “very happy with the increase in I-READ 3 scores,” though they cautioned that I-READ 3 provides only one piece of data. Countywide, 94 percent of third-grade students passed I-READ 3 in 2013.
In later discussion of testing in schools, a parent in the audience said her children in fifth and sixth grades were becoming “test-weary.” Tipton, principal at McKenney-Harrison Elementary School in Auburn, said, “Different tests measure different things to give us a complete picture. In between that testing is really good instruction.”
The Early Childhood team’s progress was reported by Deb Argast, who shared that the number of children entering kindergarten prepared for school success, based on the team’s readiness screening, had “plateaued” around 54 percent with no significant change from 2012 to 2013.
Another question that drew discussion was: “What are the barriers to families accessing quality child care and education for their children?” Audience members cited a lack of awareness of the importance of early childhood education, lack of awareness of the options available for child care and education for young children, differing values, and stressed family budgets.
At the meeting’s close, Judy Sorg, Learning Link director, announced that United Way is receiving resources that will enable them to provide leadership for coordinating efforts for DeKalb County children, ages birth to 3, in a way that supports the Early Childhood team’s goals.
“We’re thrilled about the new collaboration and its possibilities,” Sorg said.