Superintendent Dr Ember Conley May Be the Exact Right Person to Address our Schools’ Upcoming Challenges
On Tuesday, the Park City School Board discussed class sizes of Park City Schools. Before this discussion, Superintendent Conley spoke about a vision for where the schools were going and how that impacts class size. We found the honesty, focus, insight, and willingness to address hard topics refreshing. Not everyone will like what she has to say, but the path our school system is on is unsustainable. The status quo is not an option.
Here are Dr Conley’s comments:
“I think we are taking the focus away from what we need to be focused on which is what careers and college expectations do we need to prepare our students for. Take class sizes out of it. We are looking at our specific courses. Just because we’ve always done it, doesn’t mean we are going to continue doing it the same way next year. I’m just going to throwing [an example] out. Just because we’ve offered weight training, 3 sections, does not mean we are going to continue that. We also have a growing demand for computer science, programming, coding. So, I think rather than getting hyper focused on class sizes. We have the information. It goes to what is the absolute requirement that we have to have our students be prepared for and have the opportunity to learn in our schools.”
A school board member then says that the items they hear about all the time from citizens and teachers is about class size. He says “so we’ve got a little bit of a disconnect.” Dr. Conley responds:
“See, I think they are completely connected. As we go through this refinement, this is going to be a difficult time and I’m preparing you because there is going to be some disappointment and there is going to be some shifts in what we’ve always done to be able to prepare for the future. And so there is going to be shifts in staffing. There’s going to be shifts in what we’ve always offered. And those are going to be some very hard conversations because it does affect staffing. This is where you have to say, If I free up staffing in this area that really is very fluffy or not needed to prepare our students for that data we just saw, we have more staffing to be able to put in to class sizes that are high … and that is the whole conversation [we’ve been having].”
It’s really hard to argue with what Dr Conley said above. The overall goal of school is to prepare students for the future and the more focused everyone stays on that issue, the better the outcomes for our students. It would be a nice luxury if our students could spend all day in Plato’s Academy, discussing topics like what is good and shadows on the wall, but that’s not tomorrow’s world. Tomorrow’s world poses a myriad of challenges and we owe it to our students to prepare them as best we can. We give them the most opportunity by offering those courses that prepare them the best, even if that does upset parents, teachers, and students at times.
We wish Dr Conley and her administrators luck. We’re sure it’s not going to be easy, but we think you may be on the right path.