Public is welcome as California Watch forums look at education issues

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comNovember 6, 2012 

— California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is launching a series of forums -- including in Merced this week -- to engage the public on critical issues.

Called Future State, the events will explore issues such as public education and health care, said Kristin Crawford, director of events for California Watch.

The first set is scheduled for Thursday in Merced. It will focus on higher education in the San Joaquin Valley and the implications it has for the rest of the state. Events will take place at the University of California at Merced and Merced College. Topics will include lifelong learning and professional development, the state of K-12 education and the future of higher education.

Events after lunch will be open to the public.

One session will take place at the Merced College Business Resource Center and will focus on K-12 education, Crawford said. A second panel discussion, titled "Developing Pathways to Sustainable Futures," will look at the role education plays in future economic growth in the valley.

Other panel discussions set to take place at UC Merced in the evening also will be open to the community. They will include "The Higher Education Reward," "The Return on Investment for Education in California" and "Big Bets: Colleges and the Future State."

Representatives from California Watch, The Campaign for College Opportunity, UC Merced and other nearby institutions will be present during the panel discussions. The Sun-Star is one of the co-hosts.

The public will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions, Crawford said.

"Ultimately, it is a way to get the conversation going across different communities," she said. "We really want to create a partnership between us and different campuses, and it's really to create a change."

Here's a partial list of some of the events scheduled for Thursday in Merced:

2-4:30 p.m.: "The Current State of K-12," panels at Merced College Business Resource Center, 630 W. 19th St.

Panel 1 -- "The State of K-12 in the San Joaquin Valley"

Panel 2 -- "Developing Pathways to Sustainable Futures"

6-7:30 p.m.: "The Higher Education Reward," panels in UC Merced's California Room, 5200 Lake Road

Panel 1 -- "The Return on Investment for Education in California"

Panel 2 -- "Big Bets: Colleges and the Future State"

To read more about the project and see Thursday's full agenda and other upcoming events, visit http://californiawatch.org/futurestate.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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