A new grassroots organization of parents, educators, religious leaders and business executives is gearing up to hold a series of public meetings in early 2015 in order to engage the community in a dialog on public education in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The organization, Beyond Bricks, describes itself as a “public forum to receive the voice of the community” on educational goals and expectations of the public school system. To that end, the group in January and February will facilitate 13 “listening events,” at which participants will be encouraged in a roundtable format to share their ideas on what’s wrong with the public school system and how to fix it.
“We’re trying to get people to examine their relationship with public school and engage with public schools,” says Anna Fogle, a public school parent and the founder of Beyond Bricks. “The goal is to get people to engage. We want to hear. We want to listen.”
Beyond engagement, the organization hopes to assimilate the information that comes out of the listening events and, from there, determine what can and should be done within EBR schools.
“Many things could happen,” Fogle says. “But we don’t want to foist an agenda onto the process. We want this to be completely organic.”
Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, who is working closely with Beyond Bricks, envisions the listening events as community gatherings similar to those conducted in the mid 2000s by BREC when it was formulating its Imagine Your Parks strategic plan.
“That proved to be extraordinarily successful,” she says.
“We need to do that with our EBR schools,” she notes, “so we can give these kids the gift of an education.” —Stephanie Riegel