In the wake of a failed education reform bill and substantial public dissent in early 2019, the West Virginia Department of Education sought CBI’s support to meaningfully engage a broad range of citizens’ voices as the state considers how best to improve its public education system. CBI Associate Managing Director and Senior Mediator Stacie Smith helped design and facilitate eight widely attended education forums across the state (approximately 1,600 attendees total), at which citizens could openly share their perspectives on a set of key issues in small group discussions.

View the interview with State Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine on the importance of and valuable input received at the education forums, including how these constructive dialogues benefitted in part from the public forum design, an innovation from the typical open mic, public-hearing format.

A report consolidating input from the forums and widely distributed surveys was presented to the governor and legislators to help inform an upcoming special session of the West Virginia legislature. (View the report here.)