|All of our initiatives include important opportunities for educators; academics; business and civic leaders; and policy makers to collaborate on important challenges and opportunities. In 2016, the Wisconsin Education Business Roundtable (WEBR) will launch an ambitious initiative - WEBR CONNECT! - dedicated to informing and strengthening local educator and employer efforts to support and improve education and workforce infrastructures in Wisconsin.
The initiative is prompted by three statewide surveys of Wisconsin teachers and facilitated regional discussions between teachers and business leaders in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Appleton, Madison and Waukesha over the past three years. The major needs identified by, and the conclusions drawn from, the research make clear that what would be most beneficial to existing local and regional efforts at this particular juncture is support that will allow them to enhance their operational reach and capacity and help local and regional entities without such programs initiate efforts in their areas. WEBR believes, therefore, that there is a need to develop a support capacity focused on four action priorities, including:
- Further quantitative and qualitative research into relevant educator and business leader opinions and attitudes providing periodic research insights into: a) educator and business leader opinions on the work being done to enhance interaction between schools and business; b) other school audiences’ (e.g., parents, students, administrators, elected officials) opinions on the challenges and opportunities they see in their schools; c) general public opinion on these issues.
- The establishment of a WEBR CONNECT! informational outreach platform consisting initially of a series of quarterly regional and multi-regional meetings/conferences and the development of an interactive internet presence for sharing information, ideas and experiences. These mechanisms will support the collection, management and dissemination of information that would enhance educator, business, policy maker and civic community understanding of relevant activities, best practices, new research, changes in technology, and other matters of applicable interest.
- The development of a statewide inventory of existing local initiatives focused on enhancing the interface between/amongst local businesses, teachers, students, parents and schools. The research will focus on identifying: a) organizational and systemic components and activities that enhance relationships; b) best practices, initiatives and technology applications that support positive changes in behavior and outcomes; and c) the transferability of the preceding.
- Skill and relationship enhancement sessions dedicated to: a) working with educators and business leaders to expand, enhance and/or develop opportunities for each group to gain a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the challenges and opportunities with which each respective group is grappling; and b) enhancing local and regional logistical and management skills related to school and business interaction, including creation of resource inventories, support services for collaborative efforts, and technological support for local information management initiatives.