March 28, 2013

Whitfield cuts Schlechty ties

New Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath has already made one decision that should please many county residents. Gilreath announced Wednesday that the school system will end an eight-year partnership with the Schlechty Center.

Based in Kentucky, Schlechty has provided state-mandated required professional development for teachers, administrators and other employees. School officials have long defended the partnership with Schlechty, saying it showed educators how to implement better teaching and learning methods.

Nothing in Gilreath’s announcement indicated any regrets about that partnership. In fact, she said the reason the school system is ending the partnership is that the system now has people trained in Schlechty’s methods who can train other teachers in house.

But Schlechty’s help came with a hefty price tag. The school system has spent well over $1 million on Schlechty training, and many community members and some school board members over the years have questioned that expense, the effectiveness of the Schlechty training and the need to remove teachers from the classroom to be trained.

Perhaps this decision will spur Dalton Public Schools, which has also had a long and expensive relationship with Schlechty, to see if it might be better served by other alternatives.

But before critics of the Schlechty Center celebrate, they should remember that local school systems are mandated to provide professional training, so Whitfield County Schools will continue to spend some money on those efforts. Gilreath and Board of Education members need to be able to tell parents and taxpayers the services they are buying are the best value they can get for the money being spent.

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