Parents and teachers meet later this week to discuss the progress of our school districts students, a.k.a. their kids.

Face-to-face talks help educators and parents coordinate their efforts to raise another generation of skilled and committed citizens.

This year, in addition to talk about course work and home study habits, however, teachers and parents have another topic to tackle: maximizing our education dollars.

No one was pleased to see Baker School District 5J trim its teaching ranks.

But fewer teachers doesnt automatically equate to a lower quality education especially when parents get involved.

That involvement can take many forms.

At bare minimum, parents must attend parent-teacher conferences.

For the sake of your own child, it is important to know his or her teacher on sight, by name and as both an educator and a person.

These conferences are an opportunity for parents of successful students to chart even better achievement for their kids, and for parents of students who are lagging behind to strategize with teachers on how home and classroom life can combine for better results.

And parents who work part-time or not at all may be available to help their childs class or school as a volunteer during the week.

But we would like to suggest teachers and parents take a moment during each conference to think untraditionally and maybe dream some crazy dreams.

Each and every class in the district likely has a student with a parent with a job or hobby that would translate well into a special unit or even a field trip.

Teachers are hard-pressed just to keep on top of their classroom curriculum. But if parents were willing to coordinate a visit or develop an educational program for the class, we doubt their offer of help would fall on deaf ears.

Bankers and stockbrokers could work a class through a unit on the workings and uncertainty of the stock market.

Construction and factory workers wouldnt need much more than a big truck or a loud machine to capture the imaginations of most elementary students.

And police and firefighters could just show up in uniform and seem like superheroes to most students.

Bring the community into the classroom, and take the class out into the community. Build bridges not only between the adults charged with our childrens upbringing, but between those children and their community.

Education shouldnt stop at the school door.