Ryan Harter for School Board, Matoaca District, Chesterfield County.
The biggest issues facing my district are: overcrowding, transportation, and allocation of resources. Our communities are growing fast and it is a challenge to accommodate the growing number of students without building new schools or redistricting students. This also effects transportation and as our economy is doing well there are jobs more enticing than driving a school bus. We need to ensure that we compensate our personnel adequately so that we can retain them and ensure we are equally.
Todays students have access to a multitude of information. It is important that we continue helping students understand and how to navigate this environment. Students receive lessons and guidance on how to research but, this needs to be something we recap every year. Technology has advanced education and has given students access to information instantly. We need to make sure they understand how to research verifiable information responsibly.
Our county has multiple services that give extra support to students at risk of failing. Our students are diverse and come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Some students do not have the same foundation or support at home as other students do. Many community organizations have partnered to provide additional support programs for at risk students and I have seen them work first hand. The Chesterfield Education Foundation does excellent work through Communities' in Schools Program.
As a civics and economics teacher, I always stressed the importance of civic engagement. As students progress through high school they find themselves having more responsibilities and pressures placed on them. It is important to remind them of the new roles they play in society and they understand how to make informed rational decisions.
Student success is every teachers goal. We sometimes lose sight of what we consider success. Students all learn differently and at different times. Teachers pour their heart into their students everyday. Standardized testing does not truly evaluate a student or teachers success. Teachers should be given the autonomy to measure student growth and success in different ways besides standardized tests directed from the State.
Transportation issues, insufficient budget accountability & oversight, inadequate management of building infrastructure, and lack of diversity/equity. I plan to address each of these areas by making data driven decisions, policy development, and resource allocation so that that our students may achieve optimal academic success. As I've said many times before, I am the kind of person that doesn't mind working hard, asking questions, and getting to the bottom of things.
Utilizing computer technologies will enhance student learning and achievement. The new technologies provide opportunities that would help students and teachers develop the competencies needed for the 21st century. Bringing exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom, building local and global communities that include teachers, administrators, students, parents, and Practitioners, and expanding opportunities for teacher learning.
I would bring support staff into the classroom as opposed to taking children out of class when their behavior may have gotten out of control. Connecting families to schools & school activities. Maximizing use of community resources to include colleges, faith-based organizations, & volunteer groups. Improving links to mental health & behavioral services when internal resources aren't enough. Lastly, reorganizing crisis assistance & prevention that respond quickly and effective during any crisis.
Yes, I would support a high school civics curriculum. I never understood why it was ever removed. Civics education teaches young people about the very basics of how their government works. Students learn that voting is an important duty of every citizen. They learn that it is the voice of citizens, not politicians that ultimately matters when it comes to shaping the government. The people have the power to vote politicians in and out of office if the changes they want do not come to fruition.
Student/parent feedback, self-evaluations, and observations are the best methods of evaluating teachers. Salary increases is one of the many ways to support our teachers. In addition, teachers should be given time to work together in a collaborative effort. This collaboration will strengthen relationships among faculty, provide new or struggling teachers with an outlet to gain valuable insight & advice. Having their back, being consistent, & conducting meaningful evaluations goes a long way too.