Biola hosts symposium on education [Updated]

Glen Thomas, former California Secretary of Education, joined Biola faculty and local educators to provide a symposium on the state of education, Thursday, April 7.



Ruth Perez, Glen Thomas, and Joe Gillentine were part of a panel discussing education on Thursday, April 7, 2011. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

A number of educators, students, and members of the public gathered Thursday, April 7, in Mayers Auditorium for Biola University’s School of Education symposium on “The State of Education.”

Glen Thomas, former California Secretary of Education and Biola alumnus, opened this event by updating the audience on the condition of the education system in the state.

“It’s important that [teachers] know what to teach and how to teach, and that they also understand their faith and how to integrate that faith,” Thomas said. “We’re in a society right now that doesn’t really value the moral compass that we need to have.”

Panel discussion follows keynote speech

Following his address was a panel discussion which included moderator, Al Mijares and panelists Ruth Perez and Joe Gillentine.

Mijares is the western region vice president of College Board, Perez is the superintendent of the Norwalk-La Mirada School District and Gillentine is the superintendent of the East Whittier City School District.

Junior Caitlin Brown, an elementary education major, said her teachers had been raving about this event. Brown was excited to hear that Thomas is a Christian.

“It’s a great opportunity and experience to see how being a Christian and an educator fit together and how you can use your faith to teach, but in the public school system,” Brown said.

Thomas says state of education is improving

Thomas noted the challenges that face the state of California in regards to education. He said the level of education in California is actually increasing, contrary to popular belief. However, he said there is still room for improvement.

“I sort of think that politics have ruined the [education] system, in the public schools anyway,” education major sophomore Matthew Lew said. “A lot of the new teachers get jaded and I feel like it’s hard to stay in the system for a really long time. That’s just the impression I’ve gotten so far.”

The fiscal crisis of education

Thomas commented on the affect the state of education has on teachers. One of the challenges the state faces, he said, is fiscal. Thomas mentioned the massive amount of pink slips that were sent out recently. This shouldn’t discourage future educators, though. Thomas said that there will soon be a demand for teachers. The educators from the baby boomer generation will need to retire eventually and once they do there will be an increased amount of jobs available.

Thomas also emphasized the importance of teachers and how they should be honored. He emphasized how hard they work. They need to be supported, he said. It is necessary to have good teachers and supportive families when it comes to the value of a good education.

Staying informed difficult but important

The media likes to attack the education system, Thomas said. There is so much to the state of education that many people and the press don’t key into. It’s not just a matter of laziness. There are other aspects that are in play when it comes to this matter.

The Symposium ended with an audience question and answer session with the panel. Dennis Eastman, director of Teacher Education at Biola University, led the question and answer segment of the event. Members of the audience were given an index card upon entering the event on which they could write down any questions they might have. Some questions were directed to individual members of the panel while others were directed to all of them as a whole.

Attendees of this event also had the opportunity to support a local school library by donating books to Biola’s School of Education book drive. The table that was located outside of Mayers Auditorium was run by Vanessa Ramirez, a seventh grader at Canyon Hills Junior High in Chino Hills, who is in her sixth year of Girl Scouts.

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