Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
18 years experience in education K-12 regular classrooms, remedial & special ed; paraprofessional, substitute teacher & instructional program evaluator.
14 years managing volunteer services & loaned medical equipment program.
Extensive volunteer environmental education work.
Keeping schools relevant to the changing world outranks funding, discipline, and other issues. Keeping pace with information technology isn’t enough. It is not enough to be just another (and not the most glamorous) source of information. In a time when we are inundated with information our schools need to teach students, at every level, how to evaluate information critically.
Secondary level students become disenchanted with a system that doesn’t relate to “the real world”. We need to replace costly and quickly outmoded vocational programs with career oriented options such as apprenticeship partnerships to train for new jobs as they develop.
Children are by nature flexible and adaptable. Education should not stifle these traits, but develop them to prepare for life-long learning.
Charter Schools can be a good way to provide more educational options. However, if they are funded at the statewide per pupil rate they must be required to enroll a proportional number of special needs students to equalize costs, as well as maintain diversity. And of course, they must provide the basic curriculum deemed necessary by the founders of public education to ensure the informed electorate that makes our democracy work.
I believe most of the controversy over testing is caused by misunderstanding the purpose of different types of tests and what the scores mean. Curriculum based tests are essential for teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching and their individual students’ needs for additional help or enrichment. End of course test are needed to determine if students have mastered the content adequately to earn credit. Standardized tests to rank-order schools used to allocate funds to the neediest may be an incentive to work harder for excellence, but are problematic for assessing performance of individual schools or students.
My opinion is that older students generally have more after school activities and duties, and tend to say up late, but still need more sleep than adults, so they would benefit from later start times. It would be more appropriate for younger children with earlier bed times to start earlier. Of course, it is the opinions of the students’ families that should be considered in making any schedule changes.
Students will stay in school if they feel that it is relevant to them; part of their “real world”. We need more effort to reach disengaged students and keep them connected to the school community. Integrating curriculum across subject areas could help students explore connections between fields and allow them to approach subjects from their individual strong points. We need to encourage participation in Washington’s “Promise Scholarship” and “College Bound Scholarship” programs with on-going support for all eligible students from 7th grade through graduation so that they will see a real possibility of a tangible payoff for the work they invest in getting to graduation.
First there must be instruction in appropriate behavior; a clear message that it is unacceptable to make oneself feel strong or superior by preying on another’s weakness, difference, or perceived deficiency. There must be immediate intervention to stop incidents of bullying. Then aggressors need coaching in positive ways to build their self-images. And the objects of bullying need to be taught not to be “victims”; to know their own worth and strength and not accept a low opinion from others. Otherwise, victims often grow into bullies, finding others weaker than themselves to perpetuate the cycle.
Step one is for me to become thoroughly familiar with the civics curriculum currently in place. Many students are eligible to vote before they leave school, so I want to insure that they are prepared to make sound decisions. They need a detailed picture of how our representative democracy is structured, not just a simplistic overview of the “one man, one vote” ideal. Emphasis on state and local government hierarchy and functions is needed. I’d like to encourage our community’s officials to visit and explain their job responsibilities and help students understand how they can be involved in the political process. Taking the naturalization exam required for new citizens would be a good exercise.
Suspension should be a last resort. Students are disruptive when they’re disengaged from classroom activity. Factors outside school: family crisis, illness, or unstable living situation can cause distraction or absence resulting in missed instruction. When students don’t understand a lesson and are afraid of looking stupid by asking a question, or see the subject as irrelevant to them they may feel alienated. So they opt to be recognized and participate in the group by acting out. Removing them from class increases alienation, creating a vicious circle of absence, disengagement, acting out, suspension, truancy and finally dropping out. Solutions must focus on drawing them into the classroom community. If removal from the classroom is necessary to continue instruction or for safety it should be for the shortest period possible. Support to keep up with lessons during suspension and appropriate referrals for non-academic issues that interfere with learning should be provided.
Town where you live
Port Ludlow, WA
Experience (300 characters max)
Retired university professor (full and emeritus) of school law, leadership, and research design. Former school superintendent, high school principal, history teacher and coach.
1. Myths and mis-information about the quality of education being offered students.
The Chimacum Schools, like most rural school districts in our state and nation, are faced with the challenges of limited resources, a relatively high percentage of unemployment and poverty, and access to academic course and social services typically available in the more affluent suburban school district. Even with these challenges, the Chimacum schools offer a strong curriculum, a number of alternative paths to graduation, a well trained and experienced faculty and administration, along with a high percentage of graduates who go on to by outstanding citizens with successful careers.
2. Limited and restricted state and federal funds to be able to offer students a “First Class” learning opportunity.
3. The challenge of finding highly qualified teachers and administrators, since there is a continuing shortage of people willing to enter teacher preparation programs as a career choice.
The public schools are the cornerstone of the community. Providing another alternative schooling option, like charters, only creates a dual system of schooling. Charters are a deceptive effort to segregate children based on race, income level, promotes a false sense of entitlement, and has not proven to offer many of the benefits that already have been successfully implemented in the public schools - welcoming all students, a broad curriculum, arts, music, and drama programs, programs for special needs students, and after school clubs extra-curricular programs provided by well trained adults. The real, researched based, creative and innovative instructional practices are already in the Chimacum schools. Most school districts already offer options to the traditional middle and high school programs. Some districts offer magnet schools that meet individual needs. Charters are a prime example of unintended consequences - exclusive, unaccountable, inexperience and unprepared teachers.
Testing is fine, but it can be a waste of time and resources, particularly in the elementary grades - the teachers know their students and who needs extra help. if the resources are available to remediate the weaknesses determine by the results, then it can be useful data. But, during the past 20 years, standardized testing has not shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes. Even with teaching to the test, narrowing the curriculum by eliminating physical education and the arts, there is little evidence that testing makes a difference. However, the testing companies have made millions. More testing evades the real issue – family poverty, unemployment, drugs, and chronic student absenteeism.
The recent data on achievement has shown that starting secondary schools later in the morning have been very effective in improving student performance. Yes, I think it a positive move. But, like the year-round school idea, there are implications like scheduling extra-curricular activities, afterschool work by students, childcare arrangements, and bussing. Some school districts, this year, are reversing the start times by having elementary children start school before secondary students. It is something to consider.
The most effective efforts to improve graduation rates have been (a) early (elementary) identification of at risk students, (b) parental engagement and concern for their child’s education (c) available resources to provide immediate intervention by trained adults who can connect with the student and the parent(s), (d) mentors (both parents and other students) to connect with students in need, and (e) a continuous and sustained effort to have a welcoming, safe, nurturing school experience.
However, there is a direct link between early grade absenteeism and later graduation rates. The child’s needs to be in school EVERY DAY if real progress is going to achieved on test scores and graduation rates.
Bullying usually is an act of aggression that is first learned outside of school. Usually, this behavior shows up at school. It is part of a culture that believes that someone has to be “better than someone else.” While it may start in the out-of-school environment, school personnel must immediately address the behavior by having a designed instructional program that starts in the early grades. Such a K-6 program would include what causes the bullying behavior, alternatives on how to deal with the tendency to bully others, and appropriate counseling that involves the child and the parent(s). It is already an integral part of the curriculum for all elementary students.
Currently, civics are part of US History and Washington State History courses. We all have a responsibility to understand what it means to be a responsible citizen. Civics implies a citizen’s responsibility should be to support for the future generation (schools), security (police) and other civic responsibilities (hospitals, social services, public roads and transportation). For an appreciation of these public services, all students should be required to become involved in some form of civic activity, ranging from volunteer hours to research projects to help their community be a better place to live. This is already happening in the Chimacum Schools.
No student should be allowed to disrupt the learning of others. There are consequences for inappropriate behavior, but suspension from class or school should be the last step. Suspension are immediate, but usually the least effective means of dealing with the behavior problems. There are usually warning signs of the mis-behavior. If the inappropriate behavior, though minor, is directly dealt with early, possibly, the causes can be determined and addressed. Teachers, counselors, and administrators are well trained in identifying the behavior and can deal with the causes. If the causes are known and dealt with, then the likelihood of suspension will be few, if any.