May 04, 2004
It was standing room only at Stratton Elementary School last night as educators, activists, parents, and community members discussed the achievement gap in our schools, where it comes from, how to deal with it. WILL's David Inge moderated this town hall-style meeting, broadcast live on WILL-AM 580, and videotaped for broadcast on WILL-TV this Friday, May 7th at 9 pm Central. We have it archived in RealAudio and MP3 on the WILL site. Streaming video will follow, soon as I can get it done. What's hopeful about this event is that so many dedicated, articulate, and dare I say brilliant people from all walks of life cared enough to come out on a Tuesday night to engage in community dialogue about it. It's also pretty great that WILL and the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette produced this event as partners, trying to address one of this community's most difficult and important challenges. The News-Gazette deserves a lot of credit for the effort they put into not only this event, but their week-long series of features...and lots of superb reporting on education over the years. I took about 200 shots with the modest little WILLblog newscam, while N-G photographers plied their craft with real cameras. Photo Editor Darrel Hoemann promised to send me a disc containing all their shots, and we'll share them with you here and elsewhere on our site. When a town's major newspaper and public Radio/TV station get together to cover major issues, great things can happen. But...you knew there had to be a but, right? Our friend Tracy Parsons, head of the Champaign County Urban League, points out this is not a show, and the dialogue can't end with a 90-minute broadcast. All we did was get something started, and we ended the meeting too soon. This flurry of activity must be sustained until the problem is solved, i.e. until every child finds success in their community schools. 50 years after the Brown v. Board decision, we still have a long way to go.