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OELMA meeting with Dr. Stan Heffner

On Friday, March 3rd, I attend the SSCO meeting with Stan Heffner, State Superintendent. This group of the SSCO meets monthly, BUT does not involve the same people every time, depending on the topic. It’s designed around school superintendents so one meeting they might do a book review; the next time they might cover a current newsworthy topic. The presenter at the March meeting will be Karen Hildebrand, (Chair of the IRA Notable Books for a Global Society Award committee, Board Member of the CLRS, and Board Member of ALAN) speaking on multicultural books. Dr. Heffner feels that the overall educational system is at least 20 years outdated, but finances do not allow a complete overhaul. He is not interested in supporting educators who want to continue as they have done in the past because it’s easiest way to work. He is continuously looking to the future and to how we can do things more efficiently for the betterment of the students. The first 30 minutes was spent on the Chardon situation. He spent the previous Tuesday in Chardon, returned there Wednesday night, and stressed that EVERY school district needs to practice a full security check at least annually. With the number of staff turnovers in recent years, he stressed that this is of grave importance and commended Chardon for running a full security check just last year, which saved more lives. He said that, “They (Chardon officials) could not stop what was going on in the mind of that one student, but they could prevent further deaths with a well-run plan, which they did.” He stressed that this type of individual has had a “complete detachment from conscience.” He answered my questions about teacher librarians and about the role librarians will play in the assessment piece in several parts. He greeted me with, “I’m glad to see that there is at least one librarian left in the state after all of the latest budget cuts.” (There was a lot of squirming in the room at that comment!) He understood that there was no easy fix and that he would be interested in working with librarians in curriculum matters, but could not work with a particular group in regards to advocacy for the need of a certain certified position over any others. He strongly feels that librarians need to get out of the reading to children model and promote the inquiry-based model. He advocated that higher ed. needs to be involved and needs to learn about the common core standards. The worst thing we (the educational system) have done is not correctly training building PRINCIPALS to set the correct climate in the building. District officials are sending mixed signals on what is important in the buildings and have focused too much on how we look on grade card reports versus on inquiry-based learning. In regards to the new statewide assessment (PARCC = for more information, check out the website ), only teachers who deal with a student 50% or more of the student’s school day would be under the assessment guidelines. (That would eliminate librarians and guidance counselors, for example, being held accountable through the value added improvement piece). OELMA has chosen to be proactive on a future assessment by forming a committee to work on this. Respectfully submitted,Krista Taracuk