FAIRFIELD — It will cost $10,200 for six teachers from Armijo High School to travel and stay in Las Vegas for a three-day Leadership Now conference at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Assistant Principal John Lammon will also attend the April 1-3 event that will cost approximately $1,700 per participant, according to the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
The event’s benefits include “collaborative learning through shared leadership” and “techniques for consensus building, strategic planning and vision development,” Sheila McCabe, director of secondary education for the Fairfield-Suisun School District, stated in her report to school district trustees.
Leadership Now is not offered in California, McCabe said.
Costs include registration, airfare, hotel, ground transportation and meals.
Trustees take up the Las Vegas event, as well as a separate Common Core standards conference scheduled April 29 to May 1 in Glendale, Ariz. at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, when they meet Thursday.
Four teachers from Armijo High and Assistant Principal Sheila Smith plan to attend the Arizona conference that costs about $1,650 per participant.
Benefits of the Arizona conference include how to make homework matter and new ways of grading that reflect student learning, McCabe said in a report to the school board. The conference is not offered in California, she said.
Anthony Nanfito, who teaches geometry and algebra at Armijo, said instructors were emailed about the conference and that he was among teachers who volunteered to attend the event in Arizona.
“This is unique in that the organization has specific strategies,” he said of the conference.
Ed Ackerman, president of Indiana-based Solution Tree, which puts on both the Arizona and Nevada events, said the Las Vegas site “. . . may not be an intuitive location for an educational conference.”
“It’s not lost on us that people have other ideas about it,” he said of Las Vegas.
The city was selected because of low-price airfare to Las Vegas and the city’s abundance of lodging and conference sites, including Planet Hollywood, that Ackerman said “allows a great venue at a great value.”
Vacaville resident Colleen Britton, who taught school for 25 years and is a critic of Common Core, said she is not familiar with the Arizona or Nevada events but that conferences at vacation sites have a long history in education – particularly for school administrators.
“They treat themselves very well,” Britton said of school officials.
Some conferences are valuable, she said, but many represent old fads in education that are repackaged and aggressively marketed.
“They use the same buzzwords and hype everything,” Britton said.
Ackerman countered that assessment.
“It’s not my been my experience that people take old content and repackage it,” he said. He agreed that the quality of conferences varies – and added of the Solution Tree events: “We all strive to be part of the ones that are better than others.”
Solution Tree is the largest K-12 professional development company for education in North America, he said, and about 32,000 people a year attend its events. Solution Tree events include a June 2-4 institute in Las Vegas that’s dubbed Professional Learning Communities at Work.
Robert Marzano, described by the Fairfield-Suisun district as “one of the nation’s top educational researchers,” is a keynote speaker at the Arizona event and his organization Marzano Research Laboratory is facilitating the conference. Marzano is also a keynote speaker in Las Vegas.
Marzano Research and the Solution Tree are business partners, Ackerman said.
Fairfield-Suisun trustees meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in Board Room No. 108 in the school district offices at 2490 Hilborn Road in Fairfield.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]