I woke up early this morning to go join my husband at a republican rally for the local county elections. I decided to join him because even though I can't vote in that particular county, it is the same county as my school and I wanted to meet the school board candidates. I figured that it was kind of like voting- if I didn't get up early this morning to take advantage of this opportunity I lose my chance to complain about our school board members.
There was a moment there in my warm bed when I thought not complaining would be ok but I know myself too well so I dragged myself out of bed.
Meeting school board candidates proved to be interesting. After a conversation with one woman currently on the school board I wanted to hug her. She's done a lot for the community my school is in and seems to truly care about the community and schools. She seemed in-touch, realistic, and willing to be a part of the community, not someone lording over us from on-high.
Another candidate I met was also currently serving on our school board. I hope he doesn't continue to serve after Tuesday. After learning I was a teacher at a school with a community computer lab he dove into lecturing me on why we don't need to teach key-boarding to our children, we need to teach handwriting and cursive. Then as I tried to push my appreciation for year-round schooling on him (shamelessly self-advocating, but hey, that's why I got out of bed) he launched into how he didn't' want to take summer vacation away from kids, but was starting to come around to the idea. He wandered off on the subject of childhood obesity and strayed from the topic of our current schools to his own passion for reading. He had no interest in talking with me about our schools. He had no interest in getting my opinion, as a teacher, about what works and what doesn't. He, as a school board member, was clearly my boss and I had to listen to his handwriting rant. His literature brags about the phonics program he hopes to bring to our schools. I wasn't able to get a word in, but if I had, I wanted to ask him about this program, what he knew about it, why it worked, what research was behind it, etc. And more importantly, had he been in our schools to observe the reading curriculum? Does he know how we teach reading? Why does he think that doesn't work? It is researched based. Why does he disagree with it's writers, Fontas and Pannil? Does he have a good reason to believe it doesn't work?
The next candidate I met is not currently serving. He won me over when he explained that he was amazed how the current school board does not actively seek teacher's opinions when implementing new programs. He said he wants to let us do what we do best without throwing programs at us that may or may not work. Sure he has to say that on the campaign trail, but it is better to ask me about the programs than lecture me on them.
Someone listening nearby started to ask my opinion as a 'Republican Teacher'. I had to explain that when it comes to school board I am not interested in party lines. What I want is a school board member who listens to the teachers and the community. I want someone who knows what is going on in the schools and is going to keep their ear to the ground on what works and what doesn't. I don't want a politician telling me how to teach in my classroom. I want someone who has knowledge and background in education to make our policies. More importantly, I want someone who respects teachers. Telling me that I'm not doing enough to teach handwriting when you barely know me shows me that you do not really think any teacher is a qualified professional. Asking my opinion and listening, even if you don't take my ideas, does.
You are a good citizen to get out there and work to make an informed decision (Ok...even if you can't vote in our county) about our School Board, which sounds like something one of the candidates is NOT ready to do. Glad the early morning was worth it. Those great candidates and incumbents who are listeners need our support as they work for kids and families and need to know what they can do to help us. We are the front lines for that information!
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