Town where you live
I believe aging and overcrowded elementary schools will be a significant issue. With the rapidly expanding military population, and the civilians working to support NAS Whidbey, there continues to be a large burden on classroom space. Portable classrooms will only manage the problem for the short term, and a longer term solution such as construction of a new school will be an issue needing to be addressed.
I would prefer to see charter schools become privately funded instead of drawing resources from an already challenged public school system. Even though they may receive fewer dollars per student on average, there is additional infrastructure and capital expenses to operate. I would favor redirecting that money into existing school districts and implementing additional opportunities for career and technical education, advanced placement offerings, and other non-traditional opportunities, allowing students a more diverse path to graduation.
Standardized testing is a great benchmark, but does not tell the entire story. Some students have test anxiety, may be having a bad day, have stress from outside of the classroom, etc. that will reflect poorly upon them with one standard test. All students do not need to be measured by the same set of criteria, as they are not all moving in the same direction. I am much more concerned about the progress a student is making, the effort being put in, and working towards maximizing every student's potential every day. We should place more emphasis on having quality hands on, interdisciplinary, applied learning that engages and interests students, pushing them to pursue new topics, rather than preparing for standardized tests.
I do believe that intermediate and secondary start times are early for many students, but understand this is a difficult item to change. Very few teenagers are happy in the morning and require additional sleep. This is a difficult topic that has to balance sports and extracurricular activities, family work schedules and school day schedules. There are also transportation issues to deal with when revising start/end times. For now, I am content with current schedules, but am open to researching the possibilities and effects on students and the district of offering a later start.
I feel our district has already made amazing gains in on time graduation, but there is still more work to be done. The inclusion of exciting, hands on applied learning that engages and interests students will help. Staff who take the initiative to be engaged in a students success, and keep an open line of communication between students and parents are helping also. So much of the issue seems to lie with the home environment, and helping parents to be involved and supportive of their child's education, to ensure they succeed.
Bullying is a topic that has been around for ever. The struggle now is managing a new era of bullying as it pertains to technology. This is extremely difficult to deal with in a school setting, as students have the power to connect with large masses of students instantly using text, images, video and social media, with far more damaging results than what was experienced just a decade or two ago. I do not have enough information to form an educated opinion on how to tackle this problem with any real results. There have been many attempts at educating students to the potential outcomes and consequences, but the problem persists.
I will work towards civic involvement at several levels. I believe students should see their local government in action, and meet their elected representatives. I also believe in the power of community service and the difference it can make in the lives of those serving, and those being served. I look toward strengthening the community partnerships with service clubs and organizations to get more students involved in community service. Connecting the classroom curriculum to involvement and first hand experience is key.
I do not believe that suspending a student for disruption achieves the intended result. Classroom disruption is probably an indicator of another problem. I would be in favor of removing the student from the classroom and trying to get to the root of the issue through counseling, parent interaction, modified learning plans, or even independent learning. I don't feel that suspending the student solves the problem that caused the disruption in the first place, and will only lead to the student being farther behind, struggling, and causing future disruptions.