LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Florida Gulf Coast University civics engagement class, in cooperation with The News-Press, invites area residents to join a discussion of the future of public education with Southwest Florida’s top K-12 education leaders, from 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13.

The national conversation recently has focused on whether to extend the school year, eliminate or curb student testing, fire ineffective teachers, and reform the present system, which critics have decried as broken. Panelists will discuss the myths and realities of the present system, talk about future challenges and opportunities, and address your questions and comments.

The panelists are:

Interim Lee County schools Superintendent Larry Tihen

Collier County schools Superintendent Dennis Thompson

Charlotte County Assistant Superintendent Doug Whittaker, who will assume that county’s top post next year

Alliance of Educational Leaders Executive Director Pat Riley Teachers Association of Lee County Executive Director Donna Mutzenard

The event is free and open to the public, and it will be held at Florida Gulf Coast University’s student union ballroom, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S., Fort Myers, FL 33965.