Columbia Vision Commission seeks to improve education

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Vision Commission met for a public forum Tuesday at Columbia City Hall to discuss the future of education for the city. 

The Columbia Vision Commission seeks to improve 13 different categories within the city, one of which is education. Its job is to track the progress made in each of those categories and report to the city council on how well its goals are being met.

Eric Hucker, the group's commissioner, spearheaded the meeting that focused on three key topics.

"The three main goals we deal with are having proper facilities, proper resource allocation and meeting the needs of the community," Hucker said. 

The group has identified areas for improvement within each of these three focal points.

The commission said Tuesday it wants to remove all portables from Columbia Public Schools. While the basic concerns associated with trailers are logistical, like getting resources to the trailer and the real estate available to build onto a campus, Hucker said one of the most important issues is the degree of separation between the trailer and the rest of the school.

"There is a feeling of disconnection with the trailers. The students that are in the trailers are somehow disconnected from the classroom environment," Hucker said.

Hucker also discussed minority education in Columbia Public Schools. He said it is important to give all students an equal playing field to achieve success. 

"We want to see how well we are serving traditionally underserved and marginalized groups in the public school system."

Hucker also said the commission is evaluating past standardized test scores from Columbia Public Schools. He said the commission is looking at whether students are improving, and trying to identify other areas in which students can improve. 

"We looked at how well students did on English scores with increased resource allocation for training of education... and we do see increases in the scores over the past three to five years," Hucker said. 

Adult education is a relatively new concept for the commission. The commission has been partnering with the Columbia Area Career Center and its Adult Education Center, which provides basic skills training to help adults reenter the workforce.

The Columbia Vision Commission meets every forth Monday of the month and encourages the public to attend.