Gwinnett schools part of national effort to transform public education

Gwinnett will be part of a network of 121 school districts

Gwinnett County Public Schools is participating in a three-year initiative aimed at improving the nation’s education system.

The initiative — “Learning 2025: Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education” — operates under the School Superintendents Association. It provides a network for 121 select school districts from across the country to collaborate and develop ideas for improving the education system.

Superintendent Calvin Watts spoke about the program during a recent school board meeting after several speakers criticized Gwinnett’s participation. They questioned its necessity and demanded more information.

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“This was paid for and put into place, and we parents don’t know anything about it,” Amy Cook said.

The district is paying $14,000 to participate.

Watts said change is long overdue.

“I challenge anyone in this room to name an industry that is operating the same way it was 387 years ago,” Watts said, arguing that the basic model of public education established by the Boston Latin School in the 17th century is still in place.

The reason? “Because it’s been good enough for some,” Watts said. “It’s been good enough for many, to be quite frank, but not good enough for each and every.”

He said that participating in Learning 2025 would result in a gradual redesign of Gwinnett’s curriculum and practices rather than throwing out everything the district has in place.

Watts listed several initiatives he hoped to address through the process, including expanding early learning opportunities, preparing students for jobs of the future and improving the pipeline to hire more diverse educators.

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In a video posted in January, Watts announced the district’s participation in Learning 2025. He pledged that his staff would still work with teachers, students, families and other community members on ideas to improve the district. He also acknowledged the work would go on beyond 2025.

Learning 2025′s Vision

- Create an inclusive, future-focused culture

- Personalize social, emotional, cognitive and academic learning

- Find ways to provide all resources to meet needs of students