White House advisor shares education success stories

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Fresno Pacific University hosts White House senior advisor

FPU news story

When Ken Bedell travels the country, he finds good news about education.

Bedell, is senior advisor to the White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Education. He spoke Feb. 18 to about 50 area educational, church and non-profit leaders at a luncheon sponsored by the Fresno Pacific University (FPU) Center for Community Transformation and School of Education. Other speakers included Randy White, executive director of CCT, and Gary Gramenz, dean of the FPU School of Education.

Too often education discussions are about data rather than children and young people, said Bedell. Success stories happen when education is placed in human terms. “Relationships are really what make a difference,” he said. “Where it’s really working is in the lives of real people.”

What’s working?

  • A school district where teachers go to homes and meet children and their parents before each new school year.
  • Another district hires mothers of children in low-performing schools to work with other parents on behavioral problems and other issues.
  • Schools and other groups that combine forces to apply for grants they would normally compete for find more success in collaboration than competition.
  • The burger chain owner who offers up to $22,000 in college scholarships and pays above minimum wage to qualified employees.

Not every big idea requires a big budget, said Bedell. In one community, the churches all ring their bells at 6:00 a.m. the day SAT tests are given. “It says, ‘We want students to notice we notice it’s a big day,’” Bedell said.

Bedell has a wide background in education and the church. Ordained in the United Methodist Church, he led congregations for 16 years in New York, Maryland and Ohio and has taught in junior high, high school, college and theological schools. He taught in Swaziland with Mennonite Central Committee, an inter-Mennonite relief organization, and visited schools in Africa, South America and Asia as executive secretary of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities. He is the author of five books and numerous articles and scholarly papers.

Wherever Bedell has been, he has seen that the bottom line in education is not just a grade or a job. “It’s about our shared humanity,” he said.

 

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